It shames me to admit I do not remember the name of the beloved hermit crab I buried as a child. He didn’t have it easy from the beginning—he was actually mailed to me in a cardboard box and missing a claw when he arrived (I ordered one from an ad in a comic book for “Crazy Crabs,” a company that apparently wouldn’t fare well today with PETA). And I’m guessing the frigid Montana temperatures weren’t to his liking either; he lasted less than a year. To this date it’s the most proper burial I ever gave a pet; I even went so far as to create a makeshift cross on a wooden stand to place on the backyard grave site. My mother was so touched that she didn’t even get mad that I put a permanent huge hole in her Formica creating the cross with a hammer and nails. Wonder if this is the reason why, for the longest time, I couldn’t eat seafood? – Ken Miller
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Toby was a hardy Dalmatian who barked his head off when strangers pulled up the dirt road to my grandparents’ country property. He never ate a bite of dog food in his life—home-cooked table scraps, water from the spigot and the occasional bottle of Coca-Cola. Robust and adored. So when he went missing, my grandfather roamed the fields and woods in rural Alabama looking for him; a man as devoted to the dog as the dog to him. Sadly, he found the mangled hound, blood in his spotted fur, on the side of a nearby winding two-lane highway. Granddaddy carried him home and dug a hole in the side yard not far from a tree swing. It was a sad day for the whole family; my grandparents buried him, cried their eyes out and knew his memory would always be a large part of the family.
And then a couple of days later Toby came trotting up from the field near the chicken house, spots intact, perhaps a little leaner minus the Coke. Don’t know where he’d been. But he hadn’t been hit on any highway. He was absolutely fine. Who the hell was buried in the side yard? Don’t know. Looked like Toby—how many Dalmatians could there be out here? Someone’s dog was now in the Grave of the Unknown Dalmatian for eternity. Toby lived another decade. – Stacy J. Willis
How should you bury a snake, anyway? Coiled into a hole? Laid out in a trench? Now, a snake is probably the last entry on the list of pets you can emotionally attach to; after that we’re into scorpions, tarantulas—terrarium trash you can’t play and bond with. So I would’ve said “in a trash can” myself, but I was dealing with an 11-year-old boy who loved his pet snake. So a solemn backyard burial took place. I believe I opted for trench; I’m not exactly sure. What I do remember is this: A few days later, our dog trotting up, dead snake gripped happily in its jaws. Some wisdom about digging deeper applies. – Scott Dickensheets