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

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

She was as much a part of our family as my husband and children. When I was sad or upset, a wet, woolly nose would nudge my hand, then bow its head so I could hug it.

She knew I would be better. How I needed that comfort when she was gone. My sadness was absolute. Yes, she had 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 cried unconsciously as she snuck away — and often in the months that followed.

Friends and family made up for me – they even wrote me letters of condolence – and if they thought I was crazy for being so emotional, well, we Brits have always been stupid 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 trailer

Since the lockdowns, I think people are more forgiving of grief, feelings of any kind.

So when I recently read TV presenter Gail Porter’s sadness at the loss of her beloved cat, I wasn’t surprised by the chorus of sympathy in the comments below.

As she continued to relate how she cremated the cat, my first thought was, ‘Oh, I wonder what she’s going to do with the ashes?’

I have a daily reminder of Scarlett sitting on the mantelpiece in my home office. It is a beautifully decorated cardboard container that contains her ashes.

For almost a year I looked at them every day and wondered what on earth I should do with them.

I couldn’t bury them in our garden because we might not live here forever and I won’t let any stranger dig up Scarlett for a new bed of roses.

Celebrities have shared with them the way their pets live on, including the fact that their ashes have been placed in a glass ball (pictured).

Celebrities have shared with them the way their pets live on, including the fact that their ashes have been placed in a glass ball (pictured).

Reading Gail Porter’s Twitter thread, I felt like I stumbled upon kindred spirits.

Her followers had hundreds of suggestions.

“I had a Pandora [charm bracelet] pearl containing some of my cat’s ashes,” one wrote. “Really helped when I lost him.”

Jennifer Aniston had her German Shepherd’s ashes turned into a diamond necklace. She doesn’t share the details, but Heart In Diamond, a UK-based company that also operates in LA, is priced at £13,500 for a 1-carat white diamond made from pet ashes, setting not included.

Some people have suggested incorporating pet ashes into a glass charm for Pandora charm bracelets

Some people have suggested incorporating pet ashes into 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 trailer.

“I’m a walking shrine to them,” the actress said in an interview last week.

Chef James Martin not only chose a specially decorated treasure chest 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 price, then I can go to sleep. It’s pretty special.”

UK-based author Samantha Jowitt has announced that she will be saving a handful of her cat Scarlett's ashes to mix into the soil under a bonsai tree

UK-based author Samantha Jowitt has announced that she will be saving a handful of her cat Scarlett’s ashes to mix into the soil under a bonsai tree

When I explore the world of Pet Ash art, I am initially blinded by my choice. Then I realize that for most memorabilia I only need a teaspoon of ashes.

When my husband finds me adding up a list that reads: ‘Resin letter ‘S’, keyring, lighted vase, ring and paperweight’, which adds up to nearly £500, he gently takes my hand and stop it.

“Scarlett will be confused if she’s split between so many things,” he says. “Just pick one. Two at most.”

And so I am now awaiting the delivery of a “living urn” – a double-walled flowerpot, the outer part of which I will fill with Scarlett’s ashes, leaving a handful aside to mix into the soil under the bonsai tree planted in which goes main inner section.

Other suggestions include a sealed disk filled with ash to place over the pulse point in your wrist

Other suggestions include a sealed disk filled with ash to place over the pulse point in your wrist

I also sent away a teaspoon of ash to be made into a ring. I secretly did the same for a glass bauble but didn’t tell my husband.

I will wear the ring on the little finger of my right hand while the flower pot will travel with us no matter what house we move to in the future. Every December I will hang her ball of ash on our Christmas tree.

Scarlett’s memory will never die – as 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 beads with ashes plus silver bracelet, etsy.com

Called “Pandora”, although unfortunately not made by the famous jewelry company. I dare you to tell the difference.

CHRISTMAS BALL

£75, asheswithart.co.uk

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

GRAPHITE BRACELET

£19, etsy.com

A sealed disc filled with ash that is placed over the pulse point in your wrist.

RESIN PAW PRINT

£17, etsy.com

Ash mixed with resin, shaped into a paw that fits in your hand.

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