I blame Stephen King. Once, there were pet cemeteries throughout the land. People would visit them each weekend to mourn their pets and remember the good times they shared. Then, Stephen King wrote a scary book, and pet cemeteries became haunted places no one wants to visit.
The pet cemeteries still exist, but they are overgrown and hidden as if that would keep us from rising and attacking as dog zombies.
The Chobham Pet Cemetery is in Chobham, Surrey, yet none of the residents knew it exists.
It was found by a man named Frances, who built a home in a newly cleared out area, and, when he walked in the woods behind his house, came to a clearing and stumbled on the cemetery.
There were a half-dozen headstones, in two neat lines, evenly spaced, with the bottom of the monuments covered with twigs, sticks, and leaves. Frances dropped to his knees, cleared the brush, saw, carved into headstones, the names of pets, and the dates they walked on the mortal side.
The cemetery stirred several emotions in those who saw it. The people who had created the memorials loved their dogs and wanted their memories to live through eternity, just as their ancestors had. It was touching to see evidence of their devotion and sad to witness how the site failed to create a permanent memorial, as people, and time, forgot the cemetery.
Francis thought that the first headstone was for Moffat Treasure: A Great Friend until, upon further study, he realized it represented two dogs, one named Great Friend. The two dogs passed on the same day. The simple epitaph was: “They brought me real joy and happiness.”
I sought out Moffat and found him in Happily Ever After. Moffat told me that he stopped a runaway horse with a cart attached on a busy London street in 1930, which would have caused several casualties. The Tailwaggers Club awarded Moffat the Brave Collar award, which he still proudly wears his gold collar. Great Friend also received the reward. They both had TW on their headstones standing for Tailwaggers Club.
` I got to meet Mr. A. Jinks, the dogs’ dad who had erected the headstones, and, while he did not want to discuss the sad day both his pups went to the Bridge, he assured me both his dogs were true heroes and his years with them was the best of his life.
When I flew down to the cemetery, I saw a memorial stone dedicated to the eight Airedales of the pet cemetery’s owners: Peter, Sasha, Rover, Joy, Tony, Jock, Luckie, and Prince. The mom and dad, Millicent May Baxter, and her husband, Colonel R. H. R. Baxter – had their ashes buried at the site. Someone broke their stone but, even on the ground, I could still read it. I found them all at Happily Ever After too. They were very excited the memorials were being cared for again; we would remember their pups.
Joy whispered to me that her dad was enlisted to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers and continued his military career through World War I. He moved from India to England after the war. He became an executive with a car company. Growing up on the subcontinent, he was taught a love of animals that never left him.
Soon after being discovered, a committee was formed to restore the cemetery. Today it is back to its former glory and gets visitors who want to experience a little bit of history and feel the love between the owners and their pets.
So take that, Stephen King.