A Love Letter or, My Dog's Journey to Become a Diamond
I can hardly write this without my eyes brimming. My little dog Rose. Where to begin? Her journey through this life was marred by unspeakable cruelty but we did our best to make up for her rough beginnings, that dark period before she came to us.
It was on Petfinder.com, the rescue-pet adoption site, that I first encountered my little angel. She wasn’t particularly dog-like, but rather more like a dazed teddy bear hamster masquerading as a Miniature Dachshund. Really, any and all descriptors other than “dog” might have been more accurate for my Rose. She was truly one of a kind.
I was distinctly not in the market for a second dog, but rather doing some self-directed searching on my mom’s behalf. She had just said goodbye to her heart-dog, Kaya, and I was determined to help her fill the void. (If there’s anything in this world harder than having to make the decision to let a loved one go with grace, I certainly don’t know what it is.) It was during this online search that I saw Rose, captured in three unintentionally comic photos: one taken straight on, the other two identical profile shots, one of each side. With her large, round eyes, undershot jaw, and rosebud tongue peaking out, she looked like a cartoon of a dog.
And then I read her story and knew I had to go get her.
Her history, pieced together by recountings relayed by rescue volunteers, went as so: a small-town rescue group received a call to come fetch a little dog that was being surrendered. When the dispatched volunteer arrived, the woman giving up the dog carried her out in a box from the back of the house. It was in this box that my poor little dog was constantly confined, secluded and caked in her own excrement, a mean cut on her delicate nose—this despite the presence of a perfectly well taken care of larger dog, which somehow makes it seem all the crueler; a Cinderella situation. The rescuer reported that the sorry little thing smelled so awful she could hardly bear their car ride back together.
My boyfriend at the time, a musician, was on tour, the last show of which was in Seattle, so I met him there and we journeyed to Yakima, Washington, where Rose was being fostered. There, sight unseen, we accepted this oddball little parcel of fur and headed for home. About 10 minutes in I thought to myself: what have I done? Cute as anything yes, but she was near completely unresponsive and a terrible smell issued from her mouth. (First order of business: a dental.) If you set her down, she would simply walk without any discernible destination or motivation, like a wind up toy set in motion. Sure enough, this dog would prove an unanticipated challenge of unsuspected proportions. But what I didn’t know was how much I would come to love my entirely dependent little dog. I could never figure out if it was a combination of neglect and isolation or a brain trauma caused by abuse suffered earlier in her life, but Rose was not like other dogs. She had her pleasures though. She loved to be cuddled and dinnertime was when she really came alive. She looked to my dog Esther for cues and in our first years together, when she was more able-bodied, she’d follow me, albeit slowly—if I was to get up to get a coffee at the office, say, I’d encounter her half way to the kitchen upon my return. The thought makes me smile. She was the prettiest, purest of spirit being I have yet to encounter and it was my great fortune to get to witness and nurture my sweet and selfless little friend. Yes, my patience was tried a million times over—housetraining was really just an attempt to train myself—and she mostly needed to be carried, walking as she did at a literal snail’s pace. And forget calling her—we were remarkably slow to realize she didn’t hear well at all—or was she just not processing the information correctly? Still so many questions. But when I looked at her little trusting face in repose, my heart would melt. It’s been five months since her passing and I still have not brought myself to put away her dog bed. I wonder if I ever will.
The end was so very hard. Did I make her stay too long? She was a senior when I first adopted her many, many moons ago, so at the end of her time here I sometimes felt she was as old as the universe itself. For certain, she was elderly, infirm, and so very tired, but in possession of that wonderful canine trait of just soldiering on. I hope I didn’t make her stay past when she wanted, though in hindsight I suspect I did. And then I pause and think, I did the best I could; I wasn’t able to let her go one minute sooner. Though it’s nice to sleep through the night now—so many, many nights up with my dog—I miss all the moments, even those. The weight of her wasted body as I carted her to work with me, her aimless wanders in the park, how she’d look to my other dog, Esther, for instruction, or the jaunty silk bandanna tied round her pretty neck, her body curled gratefully into her Westpaw bed. All of it, I miss all of it. I know deep in my heart it was her time and then some, but that doesn’t really make it easier. It’s funny how you think you’re okay and then you go to pick up your dog’s ashes at the vet’s where you’ve left them sitting for months and promptly burst into tears.
We have many important relationships, of course, but the one you share with your dog goes deep… all those morning rambles, evenings curled on the couch. Few others do you spend that much time with. And so I thought deeply about how I’d like to remember my small friend, she who left such a large hole in my heart. I considered many lovely options but it wasn’t until I came across Heart in Diamond, a company that makes memorial diamonds, that I knew I’d found exactly the right thing. You know when something just rings true for you? It seemed to capture the purity and brilliance of Rose’s spirit. And so I undertook the process to have her ashes and fur made into a diamond, a single small yellow one to wear in my left ear in a plain gold stud. I think Rose would be pleased. Now as before, I take her with me everywhere. Though she’s not curled on her dog bed as I type this, she’s still one of the bright stars in my galaxy. I imagine her flying around, freed from the tyrannies of her failing body, awaiting our next adventure. Until we meet again my little friend, you are so deeply missed.
Becoming A Diamond
Heart In Diamond’s memorial diamonds are made from a deceased loved one’s hair or ashes. These lab-grown diamonds are guaranteed to be physically, chemically, and optically identical to earth-mined diamonds and come with a certificate of authenticity. Like other diamonds, they are also graded by the 4C’s (color, clarity, cut and carat). Colours range from white to orange, yellow-green, red, and blue. The intensity of the final colour (for example, a very pale yellow-orange or a deep orange) will depend on the individual’s carbon chemical composition. The diamonds are grown through a process that combines extreme pressure (up to 60,000 atmospheres) and very high temperature (up to 2,500°C), which are the natural conditions for diamond formation. Depending on the ordered colour, the duration of the formation phase varies. Orange diamonds grow most quickly with this stage taking 13 days; white diamonds take the longest to grow, requiring about 46 days.
Once you’ve decided on size, cut, and colour, you send in your dog’s ashes or hair, and the process begins. You are updated by email throughout so you know exactly what step is being undertaken. To say my experience was lovely and a great comfort would be an understatement.
There happened to be another little dog named Laptop whose ashes were being turned into a diamond at around the same time as Rose. Heart in Diamond’s Claire McHan thought that, were it her, she’d like for her dog to go on this next adventure with a friend, so she emailed me to ask if I would like for Rose to have a companion in the process. With my assent, she contacted Laptop’s person, Kristi Hameedi, to see if she’d be willing to wait for Rose’s ashes to arrive so that the two dogs could undertake this next journey together. Their ashes would remain separate but they’d go through the formation process at the same time. Kristi readily agree, which made me teary eyed. I love thinking of Rose and Laptop on a journey together.
Like me, Kristi found a memorial diamond to be a perfect testament to the time she and her dog shared together. “I wanted a piece of Laptop to remain with me,” Kristi shares. “She taught me so much, and was my heart. I wanted to honour her and the stoic journey she took out of this world. The number of times she rallied to spend one more day with me meant so much. Something shiny, bright, and built from her seemed the perfect tribute.”
Heart In Diamond memorial diamonds start at $750. They offer a 0% interest plan allowing families to spread the cost over 6, 12 or 24 months. They also offer a bundle deal in case you want more than one diamond made. For example, if you order 4 of the smallest size diamond (all made from the same ashes), then the price is $295 per diamond. Find out more at heart-in-diamonds.com.
Lovely ways to remember a best friend
These ethereal memorial Ash Beads, with their planet-like colouration, seem both infinite and heavenly—a perfect tribute to a beloved dog. Each hand-made bead is created one at a time from the ashes of a loved one and special coloured silvered glass. An absolutely lovely wearable tribute that will keep your dog close to your heart. From $117, ashbeads.com
Crystal Remembrance will create an absolutely lovely crystal tribute to your heart dog. Handcrafted from the finest tempered crystal, these commemorative pieces combine cremains with a swirl of your chosen colour to form a one of a kind work of glass art specifically in remembrance of your loved one. A beautiful alternative to a traditional urn. crystalremembrance.com
Eldoop Pet Urns are the perfect, personal tribute to a beloved dog. Using your photos and stories as inspiration, Eldoop creates custom, handmade urns specifically designed to reflect your love for your furry family member. eldoop.com
These one of a kind pendants from Robin’s Loving Touch featuring your dog’s unique nose print are a beautiful way to remember a cherished dog. Available in 14-karat gold, white gold, sterling silver or solid chrome, they’re personalized with the name and message of your choosing. robinslovingtouch.com