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Poop Man Bob

Newspapers now printing pet obituaries. Obituaries. For pets. Dead ones.

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Wendell E. Hager Jr. left this life Jan. 29, in Latrobe, Pa. The local paper took note of his passing two days later.


Brother Hager was survived by seven column- inches of family: his mother, wife, children, stepchildren, their spouses, eight grandchildren, two sisters, a brother, a mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law.


And by Anna.


She was his dog "and favorite companion," according to the Latrobe Bulletin (thanks to longtime reader Posy Jim of Latrobe for passing along the clipping).


Yes, please do take another sip of coffee. That was indeed a dog you just heard about -- in the obituary of a human being.


Gross? Maybe, maybe not. Unusual? Less and less with each passing day.


Not only are pets beginning to appear as survivors in the obituaries of human beings, but pets are beginning to get their own obits. Most pet obits have been relegated to the classifieds. But some pet obits are appearing among the obits of humans, which is hugely displeasing to some human survivors.


As fellow columnist Betty Cuniberti put it, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:


"I'm trying to imagine a sorrowful son opening our newspaper to look for his mother's obituary and finding her picture next to one of a hamster."


Even worse, as Betty points out, would be the issue of the hamster's many survivors. Betty imagined that there would be 427 children and grandchildren, "including 154 named Fluffy."


But the biggest problem with pet obits is mawkishness. Any human who writes the obit of a pet is odds-on to slather on adjectives, gooeyness and downright stupidity.


For example, the Philadelphia Daily News published an obituary about Winnie, a 9-year-old terrier. "She was feisty and fearless, but a lousy watchdog, who greeted every stranger with a wagging tail and a request for a belly rub," the News reported.


If Winnie had been a human, not a single syllable of that sendoff would have sneaked past even the most sentimental editor.


Meanwhile, in Anchorage, pet obits in the Daily News have included tributes to . . .


• A Norwegian elkhound named Mac, whose owner proclaimed him to be one of the "kindest souls" he had ever known.


• A Pomeranian named Sheba who was known as "Little Hoover," since she could "vibrate for food."


• A Lhasa apso named Barney, whose nickname was "Buddha Man." According to rumors, Barney's great-great-great-grandfather was a guard dog at a Tibetan temple.


Sure, all three of these obits are interesting. Yes, all three pets meant something to all three owners. But is this public fodder?


What makes a human being worthy of an obituary is the entire range of that human's life. If a human had spent six decades on Earth and had succeeded only in vibrating for food, his obituary would never run. He wouldn't have done enough to warrant the space. So why does Sheba warrant the space?


Will The Washington Post ever join the ranks of pet-obit papers? Don't bet the rent. Asked to comment, The Post's obituary editor, Richard Pearson, said:


"We don't list pets in news stories. The death notice people [at The Post] will list pets. On the survivors in the news stories, we are very strict about who we will list and who we won't.


"We have to be careful so everyone gets the same treatment. We list children and sometimes brothers and sisters, but never cousins or in-laws. And we don't list grandchildren by name.


"If someone died and had no relatives but a beloved dog, we would say he had no immediate survivors. If someone questioned that, we'd say that we don't consider dogs immediate survivors. We can't list someone's dog and then not list someone's cousin."


Of course, "pet people" aren't going to give up the ghost. They are already looking for new worlds to conquer. And they are conquering them.


In the same issue of the Latrobe Bulletin that reported the death of Wendell Hager, there appeared a story about the wedding of Nicole Richardson and Russell D. Bongard.


The couple was hitched in New York City in October. Florie Sommers was maid of honor. Jeremy Bongard was best man.


And the ring bearer?


"The best friend of the bridegroom, his black Labrador retriever, Zoe."

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Guest platapie

mans best freind gets mad love

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Guest willy.wonka

thats fuckin stupid....over here in hawaii i hear they spent like $40000 to save some dog on a abandoned ship...waste of tax payers money......my pet mouse died...oops i snapped another neck of a mouse...my pet mouse died...oops...there goes another one....

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