The sad and unfortunate truth about our pets is that at some stage we have to say goodbye to them. After years, or even months of playing together, keeping each other company, and just experiencing the joy that comes with a pet, losing them can be devastating, and can leave a tremendous loss in a person’s life. Once a pet has died dealing with what comes next can be overwhelming. Some people are unable to face the thought of never seeing their pet again, so facing burying them, or cremation, is out of the question.
Fortunately there are alternative options that will allow you to be able to see your pet, and even gently touch them, this is pet preservation.
What is pet preservation, is a topic, that more and more people are asking as they start to explore different options to traditional burial, and cremation for their pets. However, pet preservation is by no means a main stream option, making it difficult to make an informed decision.
Pet Preservation Explained
Simply put pet preservation is the art of keeping your pet from decomposing so that you can keep their physical body with you.
The most common form of pet preservation is Taxidermy, however, traditional Taxidermy is not the only option, now available.
We have all probably seen in the movies, if not in real life, an animal that has been preserved through Taxidermy. Often hunting lodges will have a mounted deer head, or a full body of some trophy animal, displayed on the wall or in the room.
Museums use Taxidermy to create very life like displays of animals, and to record species.
Traditional taxidermy uses the skin of the animal. The animal is skinned, and the skin preserved, using tanning or chemicals, depending on the animal. The skin is then worked over, or onto a mound, which is made from wood, wire and wool, or a polyutherane frame. Taxidermy is a very intricate art, as the Taxidermist will then work to bring the animal back to a lifelike form. A Taxidermist will normally have knowledge of anatomy, painting, sculpture and tanning.
Traditional taxidermy is not commonly used for pets, the reason for this is covered in the next paragraph.
Traditional Taxidermy and Your Pet
It is common practice for Taxidermists not to do pets. This is due to the fact that you would have had a strong relationship with your pet, so, you would, therefore, know your pets favourite sleeping positions, facial expressions and character incredibly well. The Taxidermist does not have any of the knowledge to work with. This makes it incredibly difficulty to preserve your pet in a
manner that is acceptable to you. There is a really good chance that your pet will not look at all like the character you remembered as the taxidermist has no prior knowledge to draw on. Bringing back the ‘spirit’ of the animal is the really challenging part, so you may end up feeling like you have not actually had your pet returned, but an empty form.
If you do decide to go ahead and have your pet preserved through taxidermy, make sure you look at the Taxidermists samples of work. Most Taxidermists will not do wall mounts of your pet, they normally offer full body mounts.
There is another, newer, method to use taxidermy to preserve your pet and we will look at this in detail in the next paragraph.
New Age Taxidermy – Freeze Dry Your Pet
Taxidermy is very evasive, which can be very upsetting for pet lovers. Freezing drying is a method of preservation which stops living matter in plants and animals from decaying. Freeze-dry chambers lower air pressure to the point that ice turns directly into gas without going through the liquid phase. Through a combination of very low temperature and vacuum application, all moisture is removed, leaving the tissues otherwise unaltered. Simply put this is a non-invasive method, and the insides of your pet remain intact. Once the process has been completed your pet is returned to room temperature, and with care and the correct treatment will remain in this condition.
As freeze drying preserves your pets whole body, as opposed to traditional taxidermy, which uses the skin mounted over a form, your pets unique features are retained when using freeze drying.
How Does The Freeze Dry Process Work?
Handing our pet over to be preserved is much easier if you know what the process involves and are confident your pet will be treated with dignity.
With freeze drying your pet will be prepared and posed, normally supported by a framework that has been custom-made.
This is the position that your pet will be frozen in. This is done by placing your pet into a sealed vacuum chamber at extremely low temperature. The time it takes for the process to work depends on the size of your pet. A small dog or cat can typically take 8 to 12 weeks. If the animal is larger it can take perhaps as much as 4 to 5 months. All animals are unique so the time will vary.
How will your pet look and how long will it last?
You should be asked to send in photos of your pet and have a detailed discussion of how you would like your pet to be posed. You want your pet returned in a pose that looks as natural as possible, and life-like. It is often suggested putting your pet in a lying down or sleeping pose as this is the most natural looking pose without movement.
As your pet is being preserved with as little alteration as possible it should, with the right care, have no further deterioration. You should be able to transport, hold, carry and even gently pet your pet. It will be a lot lighter, as all the body fluids will have been removed.
Is Pet Preservation For You?
Pet preservation is still a subject that can totally divide people. Some find it very comforting to have their pets body at home where they can still touch it and feel like their pet is still with them.
On the opposing side, there are people who find pet preservation weird and creepy,
At the end of the day, it is your choice, you need to decide how you want to deal with your pets body. If you freeze your animal as soon after they have died as you can, by this I mean place them in a sealed bag in the freezer, this will give you some breathing time to consider if Freeze Dried Taxidermy, or traditional taxidermy, is the right option for you.
Please drop me a comment, I would like any feedback on this topic.
“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.”
By John Galsworthy