As I promised, this is the Week of Culture here at German Joys.
And what marks a culture more than its death-rites? Many experts report that we’ve all got to die. So, of course, do our pets.
To investigate further, I obtained some travel funds from German Joys Cultural Research Fund and paid a visit to the Duesseldorf Pet Cemetery (Tierfriedhof — The German word for cemetery, Friedhof, can very roughly be translated as "yard of peace").
Outside the entrance stands a carved stone plaque with poem on it which reads as follows (my translation)
And you say "the thought’s a sin!"
But a dog stays true through the fiercest storm
And man? Not even in wind.
A lot of love and care went into these pet graves. And a lot of order. No matter how filled with plastic kitsch, each grave had a logical design, and was impeccably maintained. They were like a series of postage-stamp Schrebergarten.
The red candle or lamp on them is called a Grabkerzen, and is theoretically never to be allowed to go out. Shamefully enough, I only saw one still-burning Grabkerze at the pet cemetery, which doesn’t speak well of Germans’ real attachment to their dead pets. At least the unilluminated neglected pet graves won’t product the effect you see at German human cemeteries at night, where you will be surrounded by hundreds of eerie, flickering red lights. Or are they the glowing red eyes of ravenous Satanic trolls and devil-wolves, just waiting to spring out of the bushes and devour you alive?
But I digress. Now, back to the cemetery. Some graves bore stuffed animals (see Balu’s grave to the right), some plastic hearts, some faded photos of the deceased companion. Most of them had the beloved creature’s name engraved on a stone, like Balu here. Speedy (left) got a picture and a heart-shaped marble headstone with his photo and the epitaph "Speedy we miss you a lot!" Other graves were more restrained. Many had no plaque at all, just a modest assortment of flowers or small design in the earth.
But the one grave that moistened the eyes even of German Joy’s icily obective correspondent was the grave of dear, sweet little Mausi (right). Yes, there she is, curled up, eternally dreaming of scampering mice, elusive flies, and warm windowsills. Rest in peace, Mausi.