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Pet Memorial Sunday Ceremony and Speaking, “A Day For Remembering”

Pet Memorial Sunday 2017
Pet Memorial Sunday 2017

I am a speaker at this annual event, and Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation is one of my customers. This is the official press release for this event.


Even the Tiniest of Pets are Remembered at Pet Memorial Sunday Ceremony

“What is the smallest pet you’ve cremated?” is a question Deb Chebatoris, owner of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation, is often asked when talking with families about arrangements for their pet’s cremation. Until recently, goldfish and sugar gliders were the 1A and 1B of the smallest pets….until Maxwell.

Maxwell was a fire-bellied newt and lived a happy little life with his human, going everywhere with her. Travel was made easy due to his size, for Maxwell was about the size of a quarter. He was bright eyed and inquisitive.

However, after 12  years, he finally succumbed to an illness and his family wanted to have him cremated so they could keep him with them still. The family called and asked if it was possible to cremate a newt. “I could see no reason why he could not be cremated,” Deb said, so he was brought to Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation wrapped in a paper towel and carefully placed in a little box.

“I am always amazed at how perfectly our pets are fashioned and being in this profession, I see that even the very smallest of pets, is perfect.” Deb continued. “To say a family was pleased at the outcome of the cremation always sounds a bit odd, but after you appreciate the detail that it takes to perform a cremation this small, you can see the loving care and concern that is a part of every cremation performed at Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation.”

“Caring for people who love their pets”

“Last year a military couple got the sad news while on deployment that their dog had passed away while being cared for by a family member,” said Deb. The couple searched for a place they felt comfortable to cremate their beloved animal companion. When they returned from their deployments they flew from the east coast to the Midwest where they retrieved their dog, rented a car and drove nine hours to bring their dog’s body to Deb for an attended cremation though they had never been to the Pittsburgh area, and then drove 7 hours to get home. “They chose my service after an exhaustive internet search of pet cremation services from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River,” Deb said.

While this couple had never heard of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation, they chose CCPC because of the level of care they could see was given to both the pets and the people, from accommodating their time schedule with an attended cremation to the beautiful handmade cloth bag and silk rose they were able to take home, a part of every cremation done by Deb at her facility in Bridgeville. Deb’s been providing this compassionate type of service as well as support to her families all over Western Pennsylvania for 12 years, and that’s how she knows the importance of a remembrance ceremony for pets we’ve lost.

Which is one of the reasons Deb hosts a Pet Memorial Sunday ceremony each September.

Pet Memorial Sunday Remembrance Ceremony

Pet Memorial Sunday 2016
Pet Memorial Sunday 2016

The second Sunday of September was set aside as a time to remember our pets by the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories. Deb has hosted a ceremony on Pet Memorial Sunday since 2005 for families who have lost a pet.

“Our society does not normally have a ritual to help families transition through the loss of a pet. This event is an effort to meet that need,” said Deb.

Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation will host its annual Pet Memorial Day remembrance ceremony on Sunday, September 10, 2017 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Melrose Cemetery in Bridgeville. Anyone who is dealing with grief over the loss of a pet is welcome to attend.

As part of the ceremony three speakers discuss our relationships with our pets before and after their death: “Our Last Moments Together”, “Our Grief Response” and “The Joy of Pets: Adopting Again After Loss”.

Families can add their part to the ceremony

Two people hold lit candles as we recite the release for our pets.
Two people hold lit candles as we recite the release for our pets.

Pet owners in attendance are also invited to offer their own “Words of Tribute” which are read by the speakers as part of the ceremony. Participants’ tributes share with all attending what was so very special about their departed pet.

“Keeping a tribute to your pet to only 50 words can be a challenge,” said Deb Chebatoris, owner of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation, “but limiting your remembrance to 50 words helps you to focus on the essential elements that made your pet special.” Deb has tips and examples on her website to help illustrate a meaningful tribute.

“In remembrance of Hobbes, a little black cat who lived life at full speed, loved with his whole heart and had something to say about absolutely everything.  You taught me the importance of not taking things too seriously. I miss you every day.”

“Lacey was a seven pound Maltese ball of fluff (hence her affectionate name ‘Peach’). She had the heart of a lion, the smarts of a sheepdog and the demeanor of a wise old owl. She loved being a part of everything we did and was simply ‘one of the girls’.”

Families are also encouraged to bring a photo or memento of their pet to be displayed during the ceremony.

While holding a lit candle, attendees are given a Release Recitation focusing on the transition from being in this life to being a treasured memory.

The dove release

We touch the lead dove just before she is released to fly home.
We touch the lead dove just before she is released to fly home.

One of the most touching parts of the ceremony is the dove release. To symbolize letting go, a single white dove is offered to each person to touch. Each touch is a final goodbye, a transfer of the family member’s grief and a release of the soul of their beloved pet as the dove rises to the sky.

A permanent remembrance

After the ceremony pet owners who wish to participate may submit their pet’s photo and tribute which, along with photos and remarks from that year’s event, are made into a video/slideshow, the “Tribute Scroll”, added to the CCPC website for families who wish to remember the day and share it with family and friends. Tribute Scrolls from 2010 to 2016 can be viewed at

Please RSVP

The gathering will be held under a tent in the cemetery rain or shine. Light refreshments are served afterward as families are invited to share their experiences with each other and speak to the presenters.

For more information, please visit Call Deb to RSVP at 412-220-7800 by Friday, September 8. If you wish to compose a tribute, please send that by Friday, September 8. The Pet Memorial Sunday page on the site includes an e-mail address and fax for Deb as well as instructions for composing and sending your Words of Tribute.

Also, in order to provide a peaceful environment for all, it is not appropriate to bring live pets to this event.

To read about past Pet Memorial Sunday celebrations, visit the CCPC’s blog “Animus” and read “Pet Memorial Sunday 2011”.

. . . . . . .

pet memorial sunday
Me during my presentation.

Loving Again After Loss

I’m always happy to speak on this topic. It’s focused on why we choose to live with animals, especially after a loss. Deb watched me over a period of years lose a number of cats, then gain a number of cats, then lose again, and decided I would probably have something valuable to say about loving and losing and loving again, and I always draw from my own experiences:

In 2011 I spoke about losing all my senior cats in one year, and then losing Lucy, but that she brought me Mimi and her children.

In 2012 I spoke about losing my two oldest kitties, Cookie and Kelly, in one year and though I’d just lost Kelly a month before I knew it had changed my relationship with cats forever.

In 2013 I spoke about taking in Lakota and Emeraude knowing my relationship with them would be brief, and losing Lakota after six weeks but loving him nonetheless ( I didn’t realize I hadn’t shared this here, but had had it published in Pittsburgh PetConnections in September 2013. I will probably share this article again this coming Sunday as its own feature).

In 2014 I mentioned that our relationship with pets is not all about us, but about both of us, we and our pet and what each of us feels and gives and takes to and from each other, and pointing out that fosters, Emeraude, Kennedy and Basil, then named Smokie, had each been abandoned and even grievously injured by humans, and yet let go of that pain and turned around to love and trust another human who was a complete stranger.

In 2015 I spoke about animals being healers, and how they can soothe our grief without us even knowing it

In 2016 I related the stories of people I’ve known and the decisions they made.

I will share my talk from 2015 soon, likely for Pet Memorial Sunday this year while I’m giving my 2017 talk.

Why do we take animals into our lives? 

Because we need them, and also because they need us, and we can’t fear to love for fear of loss.

Perhaps I’ll see you there. If not, my thoughts will be with my own losses, and all those I’ve read about in the past year.

And the photo we used for this year’s invitation is one of mine, The First Daylily, from June this year. Daylily flowers are named such because their flowers last only a day. It’s a metaphor for how short our pets’ lives in comparison to ours. Cherish it while it’s here.

Each Friday I post articles about Health and Safety and Veterinary Medicine as well as press releases about animal events in the Pittsburgh area.
Also read my essays and articles on Pet Loss and other articles on Pet Memorial Sunday.

Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals




Animal Sympathy Cards

I Will Always Walk With You
I Will Always Walk With You

I took this photo one June morning in 2009, less than two weeks before I lost Namir, who along with Cookie spent time out in the yard with me every morning in those years. I remember turning around and seeing these prints on that flagstone as the three of us walked along the path, and hurrying to get the photo before the prints began to dry in the sun. The memory was so strong and I immediately began to form the final title of the image even before I knew what I’d do with it. I remembered it daily, knowing that Namir’s heart couldn’t hold out much longer. It was one of the first designs I visualized when I decided I really would go ahead and design the Animal Sympathy Cards.

 Click here to read more and purchase.


All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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