Fresh flowers sit next to a small stone in a grassy meadow between Fergus and Guelph, a memorial for one precious family bird.
“Since the bird passed away, the family visits bringing flowers every couple weeks,” said Veronica Negrin from Sunshine Pet Memorial Services and owner of Pinetree Pet Resort on Hwy 6.
“They come here to remember.”
Sunshine Pet Memorial Services offers funeral services to help pet owners grieve the loss of their beloved pet and to celebrate the memories had, along with a pet cemetery where people can visit and reminisce.
“We want this to be a place of closure for people. This is why we decided to offer this service. We often prepare for our own funeral, so our families don’t have to have to deal with the burden. But we don't do that for our pets,” Negrin said.
“I’m not sure if it’s because we don’t think that they will die one day, or maybe it’s because we just don’t want to think about losing them.”
Negrin is a member of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement and holds a bereavement specialist as well as pet celebrant certification.
“The loss of a pet is very painful and how each person copes and manages the final arrangements is different,” she said.
Negrin and her husband Carlos operate Pinetree Pet Resort, just next to the pet cemetery.
Since taking over in 2005, the couple has been actively involved in the lives of many pets and their owners.
A pet owner herself, Negrin said she understands the loss of a beloved pet is a heartbreaking event and believes all pets deserve to be taken care of in a loving and dignified manner, and that includes after death.
“When the time comes, everyone is usually stressed. They often say a quick farewell at the vet before having to put their pet down. They usually only have just a few minutes to say their goodbyes,” Negrin said.
“Pet owners are often faced with the decision of having to put them down. It’s so tough.”
Negrin said interest in pet funeral services has increased in recent years.
“I tell clients that they should plan and be prepared for when the time comes. I really like to let them know that these options are available," Negrin said.
“Putting a pet down is difficult. But we don’t want them to suffer. I’ve been there with my own pets. And it is so hard."
Negrin has had a love for animals her whole life.
“I’ve always loved working with animals. I don’t ever remember not wanting to work with them. It was ever since I very young. I have always had pets. And so has my husband,” she said.
“He lost his parents when he was in high school and having a pet, he says, helped him so much. It’s a special relationship. Our pets are just so happy to see us. Even if I’m tired or moody, I see them and they are there, always happy to see me. And that’s why I do this.”
The Negrin family came to Canada from Mexico in 2000.
“We knew we wanted to start a business in the area and we knew we wanted it to revolve around animals. Both my husband and I have veterinary backgrounds back home in Mexico,” Negrin said.
“We first started with a grooming business in Guelph and then we ended up getting this place. It really is so beautiful. It is all about pets for us. It’s the perfect setting for us and for the animals."
As for pet funeral services, Negrin says people began asking about it right from the start.
"So, we thought, well the property is so big here. Maybe we can do something that is cozy, private, and nice. And today, we have now have this beautiful place,” Negrin said.
Whether someone is making future arrangements, or they are in imminent need, Negrin says pre-planning can help emotionally and financially during a difficult time.
“Some things make your life better, and for me, it’s pets. They feel your energy. If you are happy or sad, they are always there for you,” Negrin said.
“When you lose them, I think it’s important to have that closure, and it really does help people move on.”