Native plant projectI wrote not long ago — a far shorter time than I could have anticipated — what my wishes were for Frankie’s remains. I thought I had plenty of time to find a way for him to assist in medical research.

I’m afraid that’s not going to happen.

I asked the hospice vet for ideas, but she couldn’t come up with any; neither could my regular vet. And I couldn’t cope with doing any further research on that topic. I need to focus on the present.

But I can’t completely ignore the future either. So cremation it is and, I decided, irrational as it is, that I don’t want Frankie’s ashes mixed in with those of other dogs. He never was much of a mingler.

What to do with them, then?

Enter Greenfinit®

By coincidence, I got an email announcement of a Kickstarter project that just, well, kicked off. Called Greenfinit® it’s “the first container made from a biodegradable polymer that holds your pet’s ashes and grows a native tree.”

Here’s a video that explains it in more detail (you might want to grab a few tissues):

I like this idea on many levels. The idea of Frankie living on in some form and, especially, contributing to the environment is extremely appealing.

The downside

But I have a few problems with it.

  • After spending many years taking care of Frankie, I don’t know that I want to continue in that role. I would be devastated all over again if he didn’t take root or, worse, died while he was a seedling.
  • I would have to choose an appropriate tree and, frankly, I can’t think of one that fits his personality.

Before I realized that the creator was talking about native trees, not just any plant, the first thing that came to mind was “shrinking violet” (sorry, Frankie).  I suppose I could choose a cactus — very low maintenance and Frankie could have his karmic revenge against the one that attacked him. But in his heyday, he was a very cuddly pup and I don’t like to think of him as a prickly plant.

I looked at the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association for landscape plants for the Arizona desert and didn’t find one that said Frankie — including the three allergenic trees, since Frankie is not a sneeze inducer.

So while I really like the idea in theory, I’m not sure that it will work for me in practice. I’ll also contemplating a Day of the Dead-style urn in the shape of a dog, if I can find one or have one made. I have lots of Mexican folk art in my house, and of course it would fit my choice of send-off day.

But I’m still pondering the Greenfinit® idea.

What do you think of the project? And if your pet was a native plant or tree, what type would he or she be?


25 thoughts on “If Your Pet Was a Tree, What Type Would He Be?”

  1. I haven’t lost a dog yet, but all of our cats’ remains have been ‘planted’ on the property, the sites marked with big-ish local stones and vinca planted there, too. They all liked the yard and I like to think of them feeding the flowers. Works for me.

    I like the Greenfinit idea, too, but have the same reservations.
    I’ve been dragging around a plant from my Mom’s funeral flowers for over 10 years, and wish I’d never brought it home. It doesn’t thrive here and I can’t kill it. And so far, have not found it a foster-home.

    You’re doing some very good thinking. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Thanks for making me laugh about your mom’s funeral flowers. As I joked in a previous post, the only place Frankie really loved was our house and, though no one would notice if I scattered the ashes there, my house is so dusty, it’s not really a good plan.

      And thanks for commenting, period. I was thinking this was kind of a dumb post, distracting from what’s really on my mind.

  2. Not dumb at all. I still have Archie’s ashes in the box they came in from the Humane Society, and feel they are becoming a lot like the funeral flowers. It’s too late to scatter them (and knowing me, I’d dump them in a breeze and end up inhaling them), but I can’t throw them away. At least they don’t have much emotional sting any more, unlike just about everything else related to dogs and death. I like the Day of the Dead dog urn–you won’t have to keep it alive, you’ll want to drag it around because it will be appropriate to the occasion yet decorative, and Frankie seems to like your taste, so he should be comfortable in it. Plus, a little retail therapy can be a fine distraction.

    1. Thanks, Clare, that made me laugh too, the part about the breeze. I rarely admit this, but I couldn’t scatter my mother’s ashes in the ocean at Brighton Beach as she’d initially asked because of that fear. I didn’t lie to her about it; I just said scattering ashes was something I was incapable of doing. I also passed on the scattering of a friend’s ashes for that reason. In addition, I fear the bits of bones that I heard don’t get fully burned. All in all, the detritus of death disturbs me in a way that’s hard to explain.

  3. While I love the idea of this company, I would tend towards the (simpler) approach that Kate suggested. also – what if the tree/plant doesn’t grow, etc. etc. Another idea – a company that will infuse (pet or human) cremains into a glass sculpture that sits on the mantel … and so on.

    I don’t know how this translates to cremation, because we didn’t talk about cremation for Ellie (since cremation is against Navajo beliefs) (and orthodox Jews too – don’t get me started on that one!), but for others who might be reading this and are faced with the slightly different situation of burial of a pet, the chemicals used to put Ellie to sleep, we were told, meant we should not bury her on our property for two reasons, one, if another animal dug them up they could be poisoned by them, and two, since we grow hay and irrigate, etc. well you get the idea.

    1. I never thought about that, i.e., the toxicity of the cremains — good point.

      And you know how I feel about the Jewish ban against cremation, having had a huge family feud as a result of my respecting with my mother’s wishes in that regard. I may not have been able to scatter her, but I certainly was capable of honoring her! Oy, don’t get me started…

      1. sounds like we have similar stories to compare some day in that arena; mine with a, fortunately more distant, cousin but painful nonetheless.

  4. Vlad would have to be an oak, I’d like it if he were a magnolia but he’s just not the flowery type. Barkly would have to be some kind of nut tree. Possibly black walnut that is prolific around here thanks to squirrels. I like the tree idea, but then, like you, I fear something would happen to kill the tree. If we did that.
    But we’d most likely have them cremated and put in display boxes like Sharkly and Dannyboy. They’re sitting right here beside us in the bookcases at our desk. Or, I also like the idea of these things: or

    1. I’ll bet the guy who started this Kickstarter project, and who sent me the link and asked me to write about it, is sorry now! He’s not getting the response he’d hoped for, is he?

      I still haven’t found the plant that would suit Frankie’s personality.

      There’s something about the compressed ashes jewelry that creeps me out. But then again I only wear earrings and bracelets, not necklaces, so that wouldn’t work for me in any case.

  5. Since I have a brown thumb, I would be scared to death that the plant would die and I’d be doubly sad. I love the idea though but doesn’t work for me although might work for someone’s yard (a friend) who has a green thumb.

    I have Painter & Lily’s ashes in pretty urns (and Hush Puppie’s in a box) and wonder what is going to happen to them when I move and scale down. Yes, I’ve decided to move in 5 or 6 years (after my dogs die) and will pare down greatly. Ashes not included.

    1. You’re moving? I can’t get past that part of your comment, Karyn! Luckily we have this weekend to discuss it — it’ll be a distraction, though not a happy one. Then again you didn’t say you were moving from Tucson…

    1. Ha, you with the black thumb, my friend Karyn with the brown thumb… Maybe I have a black-and-blue thumb; my grapefruit trees are not doing well!

  6. Hmmm as a notorious black thumb as well, I would have to adopt a tree for Mr Phoo. Maybe a cool ass giant redwood could be a representation of a larger than life pup like Pretty Boy Frankie?

  7. Color me totally, completely, stark raving irrational, but there is no way I ever would have my dog cremated along with others. The thought of that totally creeps me out. So both of my previous dogs’ ashes are tucked away in attractive urns sitting on a shelf with a statue of the Buddha “watching” as I type this. The urns are lovely and no one would know they are filled with Sarah’s and Morgan’s ashes unless I told them. I have to say, since you asked, I would not do the tree thing. It’s a nice idea but I have no special talent for growing things and the idea of my dog stuck in the ground, even if providing nourishment for a tree, sort of defeats the idea of not being buried, which, for me, is what cremation avoids. I’ve often thought of sprinkling their ashes in places where they loved taking walks, and I still might. Truth be told, though, I just have never felt comfortable with their ashes being somewhere other than where they are right now, for now. What’s the rush? Just a piece of unsolicited advice, don’t over think this. Just do what in your heart feels right regardless of how irrational or silly your thinking self thinks it is. And, depending on your choice, you can always change your mind. I guess that’s my approach. I like to leave my options open. Just know that whatever you decide, I’m with you 100%.

    1. It’s so interesting, the associations we all have, not linked to any religion, just a visceral feeling. I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with the Mexican folk art/Day of the Dead urn. That seems right. But as you say, no rush.

  8. This is a beautiful idea! We also have pet dogs living with us and I do not know how I would feel if I lost one of them. The video shared above is really very nice and I think that having that type of pot is wonderful. It is like you are taking care of your pet but in another image.

  9. I think that’s a fab idea! Luckily I have not yet had to deal with the loss of a pet dog, but know that with Mity reaching the ripe old age of 13 in a week it won’t be too far into the future that I will be facing that particular heartbreak. I think this idea would be brilliant for him!

    Good luck finding something that works for you!

  10. I know it’s not funny. But I grinned when I read your concerns that a memorial tree wouldn’t flourish. I’ve worried the same thing. It’s probably why I’ve memorialized each of my dogs by framing a nice picture of them. Even the glass breaking when one falls (as happened to Shadow’s picture the other night) isn’t a tragedy.

    But really, I wanted to share what Patty of 24 Paws of Love does because I thought it was such a lovely idea. She plans a memorial plant for each of her pets that will bloom or otherwise be at its best appearance at the time of year when her pet originally died. That way, when she’s thinking fondly of him or her, the tree is showing its best stuff.

    She is, however, a serious plant-lover with a green thumb.

    As Deborah said, there’s no hurry. Enjoy every moment with Frankie now and do what feels good when you’re ready.

    I’m thinking of you and Frankie. Peace.

    1. The more I think about it, the more I’m moving towards a nonorganic solution like yours, only in my case a Mexican folk art/Day of the Dead urn in the shape of a dog (very specific!). As Clare pointed out, it’ll fit into my home decor and there are few things I like better than shopping for Mexican folk art (except maybe eating Mexican food).

      Thanks for your good thoughts, Pamela. I was feeling the vibes.

  11. I have to agree – I’m horrible with plants, so the idea of a memorial tree withering away terrifies me! I’m totally with you on that one.

    Thinking of you quite a bit this week… sending a giant hug your way.

  12. Hello Edie!

    And hello to everyone that took a bit of their time to let us know what you think about our project.

    I really appreciate everyone’s thought.

    Dealing with the passing of our pet is something personal. I just shared what it helped me the most, through Greenfinit 🙂

    For me, a living memorial is the best way to remember someone. Also, I started thinking about what was going to happen to the ashes of my pet if I kept them in my house. There’s a good chance that they will end up in the trash once I’m not here to take care of them, and I definitely didn’t want that.

    In the US, it’s only “legal” to bury pet cremated remains, because they do not constitute a health risk.

    Also, a native tree can live many human lives, they will keep giving oxygen to the earth and will contribute to reforestation. They also provide shelter and food to local fauna.

    Thank you all for your input!

    Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

    Best regards,


  13. This is very interesting! Thank you for sharing this idea. If my lovely dog would die, I think I will have this suggestion. It is really a very nice when you know that you still have the ash of your dog close to you most specially if there is a living plant growing with it.

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