Thistledown Pet Memorial is unique, and we have been told, is unlike any other pet-related facility located in Canada. We encourage pet owners to read through the pages of our web site to better educate themselves with respect to the factors they should consider prior to and after that dreaded day when their pet passes.
The Genesis of Thistledown:
Many people find the death of a family pet as painful as mourning the loss of a person. This was the situation in 1996 when we, Nancy and Colin Graham, lost our own dog Beau, to bone cancer. Unable to find any pet loss support resources in their area, we decided to create something that would help other pet owners in the same situation. As a result of this adversity, Thistledown was born.
Established in 1998, Thistledown Pet Memorial is located on fifty acres of the Oak Ridges Moraine, just south of the town of Uxbridge. Thistledown was created to help pet owners prepare for and cope with the loss of a pet through illness, accident or euthanasia.
The Objective of Thistledown:
The objective of Thistledown Pet Memorial is to help ensure pet owners and their pets are treated with dignity and respect when that fateful day arrives and the pet passes on.
The Goal of Thistledown:
The primary goal of Thistledown Pet Memorial is to make pet owners aware of the resources available at Thistledown and elsewhere that have been established to help them prepare for and cope with the passing of their pet.
The Genesis of the Name “Thistledown Pet Memorial”
In 1998, when we were searching for a name that we believed would be appropriate for our new and unique business venture, we wanted a name that symbolically described the nature of what we were attempting to accomplish. During our search, we came across a very old and very respectful saying used by many indigenous peoples; “Spirit to the Sky”. Historically, this phrase has been chanted following the passing of someone in their community. Like many in this world, it has always been our belief that when animals pass, their spirits too, rise from their earthly bodies. With this in mind, we searched for something in our visible world that would be symbolic of this passing to the beyond; to a new beginning.
In the language of flowers, the thistle is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth. Although the word “thistle” describes a group of prickly plants that many regard as “weeds”, we found the life cycle of this plant to be very significant. The seed of the thistle is also known as “niger” seed. As the thistle dies, its seeds are carried by the wind on the silky “thistle down” to create a new beginning as a new plant, or to sustain life as food for finches or other small birds. We thought this very symbolic of what we were trying to accomplish with our work; to honour the passing of pets and to help their owners through a very difficult time in their lives. Thus we settled on the name, “Thistledown”, to describe a place which provides honour to deceased pets, and comfort to their grieving owners.
A Brief Overview of Thistledown Resources:
When a pet passes, typical after-care options include cremation or burial. At Thistledown we do not accept any animal remains for burial; we deal strictly with pet cremation. We encourage pet owners to contact us prior to the loss of their pet to help educate themselves regarding:
after-care options available to them at Thistledown Pet Memorial when their pet dies;
some of the advantages and disadvantages of each option;
how they might access these options; and
typical costs associated with the various options.
We have a state-of-the-art on-site pet crematorium at Thistledown and because of our small size we are able to provide the personalized pet cremation service desired by many pet owners. By having an on-site pet crematorium, we are able to meet the specific needs of those pet owners:
who have concerns regarding the handling of theirs pet’s remains;
who have concerns regarding the integrity of their pet’s ashes;
who wish to be personally involved in their pet’s after-care; and
who wish to have their pet’s ashes returned to them as quickly as possible.
At present, we have four indoor niche walls open for the placement of pet cremation urns and an outdoor niche building for additional urn placements. We also have areas for urn burials and scattering gardens for those who desire this option. For those pet owners who have buried a pet in the past and who may be moving, we also offer a pet exhumation/cremation service.
On numerous occasions we have had pet owners referred to us by clinics to assist in arranging for pet cremations. Such referrals generally have occurred in situations where the normal cremation process offered by the clinic, for whatever reason, was not adequate to meet the needs of the client. When we receive such a referral we can pick up the pet’s remains at the clinic, meet the pet owner at his/her residence if the euthanasia has been performed in the pet’s home environment, or have the owner bring their pet’s remains to Thistledown.
For pet owners who require some assistance in coping with the grief associated with their loss, we can offer some telephone support and can direct them to our selection of books and articles written specifically about pet loss. For those pet owners who have exceptional needs in dealing with the loss, we can provide the names of individual grief therapists and support groups who may be able to help them through the grieving process. In short, we are there to hold a hand when needed, are non-judgmental, are sensitive, and are empathetic to the pet owner's needs.
We would like to introduce you to our two “Greeters”, Chuck (left) and Sam (right). Both of our “Greeters” are very experienced at meeting pet owners when they first arrive and in helping them cope with the loss of their pet. We have many dog lovers, cat lovers, bird lovers and pocket pet lovers who have brought their pets to Thistledown tell us that Chuck and Sam helped ease the pain and anxiety they were experiencing from the loss of their own pet.
We hope this introduction to Thistledown will assist pet owners in meeting their needs before and after they suffer the loss of a beloved pet. Thistledown staff will be pleased to answer any questions regarding our services, hours of business, or pet loss in general. Please give us a call, send us an email, or stop by Thistledown for a visit.