In San Jose, Calif., a preserved Chihuahua skeleton stands on a bed of fur atop an antique library card catalog. A photo of the dog, Shirley, peers down on the living-room display.

Mari Moore, a 45-year-old paralegal, paid around $6,500 to preserve her dog’s bones, a process called bone articulation, after the rescue dog, who was at least 10 years old, died in 2020.

With a new appreciation for the brevity of life, she and her husband, Kirk Moore, 45, started therapy to improve their relationship after Shirley died.

“When Shirley passed, our whole lives changed. We really realized that we want to appreciate each other,” she said. Now, they visit the shrine almost daily, especially during fights and difficult days. “It reminds me of real, pure, unconditional love, and it makes me want to be better.”
Mourning owners are memorializing their beloved cats and dogs at a rate not seen in over a century, when Victorian-era pet owners frequently taxidermied deceased companions, said the Moores’ taxidermist, Lauren Kane of Precious Creature Taxidermy in Redlands, Calif.

Lifelike taxidermy and bone articulation can cost thousands of dollars. But urns, some made of bronze or inlaid with ornate mother-of-pearl designs, are a more common and accessible choice for people who want to honor their pets and integrate a memorial into the design of their home, said Tim Murphy, executive director and chief executive of the Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America. The trade organization supports professionals in funeral services for humans and, increasingly, for pets, he said.

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