Transform your dog into a bonsai tree: barking new ways to let your pet live beyond the grave

Scarlett, my 14-year-old majestic standard poodle, had to be put down last year, and every day I miss her.

She was as much a part of our family as my husband and children. If I was sad or upset, a wet, woolly nose would nudge my hand, then she would bend her head to allow me to hug her.

She knew I’d feel better for it. How I needed that comfort when she’d gone. My grievance was absolute. Yes, she’d been frail and stiff and I believed the vet when they said it was time. But I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to her and I wept without self-consciousness as she slipped away — and often in the months after.

Friends and family were forgiving — even writing me letters of condolence — and if they thought I was dippy for being so emotional, well, we Brits have always been daft about our pets.

Dakota Fanning (pictured) skipped the cremation step for her West Highland terrier, Lewellen, and simply had the dog's white fur pressed into a pendant

Dakota Fanning (pictured) skipped the cremation step for her West Highland terrier, Lewellen, and simply had the dog’s white fur pressed into a pendant

Since the lockdowns I think people are more forgiving of grievance, of sentiment of any sort.

Which is why, when I recently read TV presenter Gail Porter’s wail of sorrow about losing her beloved cat, I wasn’t surprised by the chorus of sympathy in the comments below.

When she went on to share how she’d had the puss cremated, my first thought was: ‘Oh, I wonder what she’ll do with the ashes?’

I have a daily reminder of Scarlett sitting on the mantelpiece in my office at home. It’s a prettily decorated cardboard container holding her ashes.

For nearly a year, I looked at them every day and wondered what on earth to do with them.

I couldn’t bury them in our garden because we may not live here for ever and I’m not letting some stranger dig Scarlett over for a new rosebed.

Celebrities have been sharing the ways in which their pets live on with them including having their ashes put into a glass bauble (pictured)

Celebrities have been sharing the ways in which their pets live on with them including having their ashes put into a glass bauble (pictured)

So when I read Gail Porter’s Twitter thread, I felt I had stumbled among kindred souls.

Her followers had hundreds of suggestions.

‘I had a Pandora [charm bracelet] bead made that includes some of my puss’s ashes,’ wrote one. ‘Really helped when I lost him.’

Jennifer Aniston had the ashes of her German Shepherd turned into a diamond necklace. She’s not sharing the details, but Heart In Diamond, a UK-founded company that also operates in LA, tops out at £13,500 for a 1 ct white diamond created from pet ashes, setting not included.

Some people have suggested including pets ashes in a glass charm for Pandora charm bracelets

Some people have suggested including pets ashes in a glass charm for Pandora charm bracelets

Dakota Fanning skipped the cremation step for her West Highland terrier, Lewellen, and simply had the dog’s white fur pressed into a pendant.

‘I’m a walking shrine to her,’ said the actress in an interview last week.

Chef James Martin not only chose a customdecorated treasure box for his dog Fudge’s ashes, but keeps it on his bedside table with one of his many culinary awards.

He says: ‘I have this nightly mantra where I tap the box and touch the award, then I can go to sleep. It’s pretty special.’

UK-based writer Samantha Jowitt has revealed that she will keep a handful of ashes of her cat Scarlett's ashes to mix into the soil underneath a bonsai tree

UK-based writer Samantha Jowitt has revealed that she will keep a handful of ashes of her cat Scarlett’s ashes to mix into the soil underneath a bonsai tree

When I investigate the world of pet ash art, at first I am blinded by choice. Then I realize that, for most of the mementos, I need only a teaspoon of ashes.

It’s when my husband finds me totting up a list that reads, ‘Resin letter ‘S’, keyring, light-up vase, ring and paperweight’, adding up to nearly £500, that he takes me gently by the hand and puts a stop it.

‘Scarlett will be confused if she’s divided up between so many things,’ he says. ‘Just choose one. Two at most.’

And so I am now awaiting delivery of a ‘living urn’ — a double-walled plant pot, the outer section of which I will fill with Scarlett’s ashes, keeping a handful aside to mix into the soil underneath the bonsai tree that goes into the main inner section.

Other suggestions have included a sealed disc filled with ashes to set over the pulse point in your wrist

Other suggestions have included a sealed disc filled with ashes to set over the pulse point in your wrist

I have also sent off a teaspoon of ashes to be made into a ring. Secretly I have done the same for a glass Christmas bauble, but haven’t told my husband.

I will wear the ring on the little finger of my right hand, while the plant pot will travel with us to whichever house we move to in the future. Each December, I will hang her ash bauble on our Christmas tree.

Scarlett’s memory will never die — so long as I can keep the bonsai alive…

Keep the memory alive with…

LIVING URN

£249, plant not included, thelivingurn.co.uk

Keep your pet’s memory alive by mixing their ashes with soil and growing a bonsai tree in this clever pot.

GLASS CHARM

£37.50 for glass bead containing ashes, plus silver bracelet, etsy.com

Called ‘Pandora’, though sadly not made by the famous jewelery company. I defy you to tell the difference.

CHRISTMAS BAUBLE

£75, asheswithart.co.uk

A heart-shaped decoration with engraved name. Comes in 16 colours.

GRAPHITE STRAP

£19, etsy.com

A sealed disc filled with ashes to set over the pulse point in your wrist.

RESIN PAW PRINT

£17, etsy.com

Ashes mixed with resin, molded into a paw to fit in your hand.

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