5 Ways to Remember Your Dog

Enjoying a snooze on the bed…while everyone’s at work!

Even though we all know that our dogs have a short life span and that we will most likely out live them, it doesn’t make it any easier the day that they pass away.  We spent a decade with our dog, Hilo and that didn’t feel like nearly enough time with him. He was a true blessing in our lives. Sadly he passed away after a battle with cancer.

Getting used to life without our best friend has been very difficult. We had so many good times together on dog walks, hikes, yappy hours, road trips and so many other adventures.  To remember all those great times, we wanted to find ways to memorialize some of these adventures so we can always appreciate our time together.  Here are five ways we found to keep Hilo’s spirit alive and well in our lives.

1. Donation

This was an idea we actually got from some friends of ours. After hearing about Hilo’s passing they made a donation in his name to our local dog park. Hilo spent so much time in the dog park, we often went twice a day and he truly loved it there – so we think he would have been onboard with this idea. He had so many friends there from the dogs to the owners – everyone loved Hilo.  Most people didn’t know our names at the dog park, but they knew Hilo’s name – that is for sure.  Hilo could also spot his favorite friends there as well – usually the folks who gave him treats and extra attention. 

With this donation idea in mind, we decided to make a donation to the Animal Welfare League in his honor. We think Hilo would have liked this idea.  When we fostered dogs, Hilo was always a patient and giving soul. His confidence and calm demeanor always helped the new fosters feel a bit more at home and safe during their stay with us.  Hilo sometimes got the short-end of the stick when we had a foster, getting a little bit less attention, but he never complained.  Coming from a rescue background himself somehow I think he understood the plight of these dogs and what they were going through.  He was also just such a patient and tolerant soul – we were very lucky indeed.

2. Painting

Years ago we discovered a local artist that paints animals really well. She has the capability to really capture the expression of an animal. She explains her art as “taking everyday settings or elements and giving them a captivating twist to be visually appealing and emotionally engaging.”

We had discussed getting a painting done of Hilo for a while, but never got around to doing it. After he passed, we felt like this would be a great way to remember our beloved pup. So we reached out to Holly Fries to see if she would be interested in taking on the project.  After a quick email, we were excited to hear that she would take on the project to capture the spirit of our pup on canvas.

After a few conversations, sharing some stories and some of our favorite pictures of Hilo, the project was underway.  Holly shared a quick sketch of what the painting would look like and then she was off to the races.

In a few short weeks, Holly let us know that she had completed the projected. We were very excited to see the painting.  We all met up for the exchange of the painting.  As she unveiled the painting to us – we were so impressed. She had really captured Hilo’s spirit and soul in the painting. Hilo loved the beach and he is painted with his face in the portrait in the foreground and the sunset and sand in the background.  His features are captured in fine detail in the portrait from his engaging eyes to his gray fur under his mouth to even his whiskers. It was truly a moving moment to see our beloved Hilo captured in such a compelling fashion.

We hung up the painting above our bed, so we can see his happy face on a daily basis. It puts a smile are on face and makes the day just a bit better.  This turned out to be such a great idea and we are so happy we worked with Holly to make this happen.  Check out her work here and if you are in the Northern Virginia area you may even spot her at some of the local establishments where she spends time painting.

Beautiful painting of our dog at his favorite place the beach

3. Memory Box

After Hilo’s passing there are many items that remind us of him that have so much special meaning.  After giving some thought to what to do with these items, we came up with the idea of displaying these items in a memory box.  The memory box is essentially a place where we can easily look at all those meaningful items.  It serves as a kind of time capsule which we can always look at to think of our beloved dog.  We wanted to make sure that he would always be in our thoughts as time passes and as life changes and evolves.

The front of the box is made of glass so you can easily view the items inside. We decided to put items like his collar, name tag, one of our favorite photos together with him and his paw and nose print.  When you’ve had a hard day, the memory box is a nice escape to think about all the good times we had with our furry family member.

4. Nose print, paw print and ashes

We were at the animal hospital when we found out that Hilo’s cancer had returned and there were no more medical options to prolong his life. So, we chose to end his suffering by euthanizing him at the animal clinic. It was clear he was not enjoying his time on earth any longer.  It was a profoundly difficult decision and a heart breaking one – to say the least.  

After he passed away, we were given options to handle his after life care. We chose to have him cremated. After a few weeks after his passing we received a nice wooden box with his name on it and his ashes. It is really difficult to understand how our 90 pound dog could be reduced to the contents of a small box.  We decided that we would spread his ashes in some of his favorite local spots – places that he loved to run around in, where he would sniff endlessly and smile for days. Places where he seemed the happiest. It also provides us a place to visit him in spirit now that he is no longer on this earth.

Along with the ashes, we also decided to get prints of his paws and nose.  They are nice reminders of our beloved dog. They give us some feeling for how big his paws were and make you think of his wet nose touching your skin.  All these small reminders help us to keep his loving memory alive.  He was such an important part of our life for so many years, so we want to honor his memory.

Paw prints furever…

5. Video and pictures

Over the years we took numerous pictures and videos to capture our adventures with our pup. From the beach to the forest, family events to a range of road trips – we documented so much of our lives together with pictures and videos.  It provides the most vivid way to remember our companion.  It’s as close to real life as you get, when you’ll never to see your furry friend again. We are so thankful now for all the moments we captured.

With all this footage, we decided to create a compilation video of many of our best adventures. This allows us to view so many of the fun adventures we had in a single video from the fun videos to the best photos.  The video is a true pick-me up when you have a rough day or just want to escape life for a moment and think back to some great times.

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