Long forgotten, mostly hidden in corners of old cemeteries are memorials to the most beloved of companions. No doubt by now, these pets have been reunited with those who grieved over their tiny graves so many years ago.
Behind the perimeter of Hyde Park Cemetery’s gate on Bayswater Road, hidden by bushes in Victoria Gate Lodge is a small plot of land memorializing the smallest companions.
It was all started with a kindness by Mr. Windbridge, the lodgekeepr in 1881. Cherry a Maltese terrier, who belonged to the Barned children who lived at 10 Cambridge Square, died of old age. The family were already acquainted with the Victoria Lodge gatekeeper. The family asked to bury her inside the park, and a tombstone was placed over her tiny grave inscribed with “Poor Cherry. Died April 28, 1881.” The Barneds went on to bury two other dogs there, Kaiser in April 1886, and Zoe whose inscription read, “Alas Poor Zoe. Born October 1, 1879. Died August 13, 1892. As deeply mourned as ever dog was mourned, for friendship rare by her adorned.”
Many of the pets were victims of the horses and carriages that frequented the park. After Cherry, the second pet was one who lost his life this way. His name was Prince, a Yorkshire terrier belonging to Louisa Fairbrother, wife of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge. Soon other burials followed and Mr. Winbridge made sure to lay out the graves in neat rows, where the family would come later and decorate them with flowers.
It ended in 1903 with over 300 graves nestled in the little corner of the park.
Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques
The Cemetery of Dogs and Other Domestic Animals opened in 1899 at 4 Pont de Clichy on Île des Ravageurs a suburb of Paris. The creation of the necropolis started with Paris declared that pets had to be interred in graves at least 100 meters from the nearest dwelling. Prior to this the animal carcasses were being dumped in the Seine or the household trash.
Journalist Marguerite Duran and attorney George Harmois, both animal lovers, came up with the idea of the pet cemetery in what was then the outskirts of Paris. Marguerite's pet lion was eventually buried there.
Fast forward 125 years, and 40,000 animals found their final resting place in this cemetery. It's not only dogs and cats, but horses, hamsters, birds, fish, a lion, a monkey among others.
It catered to elite pet owners who memorialized their pets with ornate sculptures.
Rin Tin Tin, died in 1932, and was buried here. He was rescued from a World War I battlefield in France by Lee Duncan, an American solider who called him "Rinty." He went on to star in 27 Hollywood films.
At the park entrance is a monument to Barry der Menschenretter (which means "people rescuer" in German), a St. Bernard better known as Barry. He worked as a rescue dog in Switzerland and Italy for the Great St. Bernard Hospice. He saved more than 40 people, and was fourteen years old when he died in 1814. Despite legends that he was killed during his last rescue, in truth he was retired to Bern, Switzerland. A taxidermist preserved him and he is on display at the Natural History Museum of Bern. At the hospice, one dog is always named Barry in his honor.
Dogs were being used at the hospice at least since 1707, when a mention was found in records that stated, "A dog was buried by us." They were originally introduced to the monastery some time after 1660 as watchdogs. Examination of old skulls show that two types of dogs were kept, but by 1800 a special breed was being used for rescue work.
France classified the cemetery as a historical monument in 1987.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer