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Pet Cemetery

From Elaborate Parks to Private Residences

Probably the first thing that comes to mind for many people when they hear about a pet cemetery is the famous 1989 Stephen King movie Pet Sematary (intentionally misspelled by the way. The movie’s pet cemetery is marked by a sign painted by a child who apparently hadn’t learned “c” words in school yet). That movie centers around a desolate and dangerous pet cemetery in which buried animals – and, later, buried people – come back to life as evil, zombie-like creatures.

A pet cemetery will preserve the memory of a cherished companion for all timeBut most pet cemeteries are not quite so ghoulish. In fact, there are a lot of downright fun and interesting pet cemeteries across America. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the pet cemeteries that make for excellent diversionary stops on road trips.

First, there is the pet cemetery that is actually part of a private museum display devoted to a relatively tragic day in Texas's history. The bone of circus elephant Black Diamond are on display in the town where he got loose from his handlers in 1929 and trampled dozens of bystanders, killing one woman. With time, the memory of Black Diamond's rampage has gone the way of other black marks in history (such as the outlaw legends of dangerous men like Jesse James or Billy the Kid), so this display in Corsicana, Texas has a bit of a light hearted flair. But, for those not somehow emotionally tied to the event, it makes for an interesting stop on a road trip through the Houston area. (And it interesting to note that the collector who runs the display was an eye-witness to the horrific event.)

Next, in that same part of Texas, is the pet cemetery on the grounds of Texas A&M University. On the outside of the school's stadium sits a mini-graveyard for all of the dogs that have lived since the 1940's as the university's mascot Reveille. This pet cemetery was originally installed on the north end of the stadium specifically so that the dogs would always have a good view of the stadium scoreboard. Later, when a stadium expansion blocked the view, university officials moved the graves to another spot on the grounds and installed a scoreboard, outside the stadium, so that the dogs would still be able to get their continuous game updates.

Creating a permanent tribute to a lost companion can greatly help in coping with griefMoving on to other parts of America, the city of Eufaula, Alabama has a pet cemetery whose only resident is a large mouth bass named Leroy Brown. A local fisherman caught Leroy after a tougher-than-usual fight one day and, rather than cooking him, decided to let him live in a small tank in his home. The spirited fish lived a long, apparently happy, life in the tank and became a local celebrity. When he died, more than 800 people attended his funeral which included guest appearances from some of the nation's best known professional bass fishermen and a playing of "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" by the local high school band.

In Manhattan, Nevada, the local bar serves as a pet cemetery of sorts for Herman the Mouse who became famous when demolition workers removing a mobile home found him dead in the walls. He had apparently chewed through some live wires and electrocuted himself. The workers removed his body and he is now on display, complete with wires still in his mouth, at the bar.

And, finally, at the other Manhattan on the East Coast, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery bills itself as the oldest in America. Historians say that burying pets in cemeteries came of fashion during World War I when American media began reporting on heroic dogs serving with the troops (including Chips, the only dog ever awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star for bravery in combat). As the idea of memorializing the hero dogs caught on, Americans began clamoring for ways to honor their own pets, too, and Pet Cemeteries were born across the country from 1914-1917. The Hartsdale Cemetery's famous "War Dog Memorial" statue was, reportedly, the first of its kind, the one that sparked the popularity of Pet Cemeteries, a tradition that gets a little more popular every year.

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