A pet memory box is a beautiful way to remember a pet who has died or gone missing. It lets you safely store precious items that remind you of your pet, including their belongings, so that you can take them out and rediscover them for many years to come.
Any age group can do this activity and it’s something you can do alone or with other members of your family.
Choosing the right pet memory box
Before you think about what items to include in your pet memory box, you’ll need to choose the box itself.
There are many different options.
If you want a truly personalised memory box, you could opt for a plain wooden or cardboard box and then decorate it yourself. The decorations could include pictures, paintings, ribbons, drawings or anything that you feel represents your pet.
Alternatively, you could have a look online for pet memory boxes. Some businesses will personalise a memory box for you by carving your pet’s name, picture or special dates on to the box.
Here are some examples of the types of boxes available (we just did a search on Etsy but Google will show you more ideas).
Some pet memory boxes include a space for a photo of your pet in the lid or a special saying.
You will also want to think about the size of the memory box based on what you want to keep in it and where you plan to put it.
Eight items you could include in a pet memory box
Having chosen and decorated your memory box, it’s now time to think about what you want to put in it.
These are eight of our favourite ideas:
Your pet’s collar, tag, lead or bridle
If your memory box is for a dog, cat or horse then they probably wore an item like a collar, harness or bridle. The memory box is the perfect place to store this. You might also want to include their identity tag.
Touch can create detailed, lasting memories and you’ve probably touched your pet’s collar or ID tag thousands of times. Being able to touch these items in the future will unlock lovely, tactile memories of your pet.
A paw print or fur clipping
Many vet practices or pet crematoriums now offer to take a paw print – often in clay or a similar material – of a pet who has died. Some will also take a small fur or feather clipping and present it to you in a little presentation bottle.
While it isn’t always possible to get these keepsakes, it’s worth asking if they can be obtained.
Being able to look at a pet’s paw print can be comforting and meaningful, another physical way of remembering your pet.
Your pet’s favourite toy
Whether your pet was a dog, cat, rabbit, rat or budgie (or, indeed, any other species), the chances are that they had a favourite toy.
A pet memory box can be the perfect place to keep this treasured item. It doesn’t matter if it’s a well-chewed tennis ball or the decoration from an aquarium. What matters is all of the wonderful memories you have of your pet enjoying that item.
Some people find looking at photos of their pet comforting, while others find it tough, especially in the early days.
Eventually, though, most of us enjoy looking at photos of our past pets because the pictures bring back happy memories.
Why not print out some of your favourite photos of your pet and pop them in the memory box?
They could be photos that make you laugh, photos of a special memory or even some of the countless photos you took of your pet doing nothing in particular.
Your pet’s bed or blanket
If the memory box is big enough, you might want to pop your pet’s bed or favourite blanket in there.
If size is an issue, another option is to keep a small piece of fabric from the bed or blanket as a reminder of the texture and design.
Alternatively, you could look on Google for a craftsperson who is able to turn your pet’s bedding into a soft toy keepsake. Again, Etsy has some wonderful examples of pet memorial toys, including ones made from a pet’s bedding.
A letter to your pet
Are there things you wish you could tell your pet? Perhaps you want to tell them how much you love them or let them know how sorry you are that they died.
Maybe you want to record the story of their life, including how you met them or the things they enjoyed doing.
A wonderful way to express these thoughts is to write a letter to your pet. You can tell them everything that’s in your heart and pop it in the memory box for safekeeping.
Your favourite memories
We love the idea of writing down memories of your pet on small pieces of paper and then adding them to the memory box to be picked out and rediscovered in the future.
If you live with other people, you could invite everyone to write down their memories and add them to the box. This can be a lovely way to discover new things about your pet and what they meant to other family members.
If you received sympathy cards from your friends and family when your pet died, you might want to keep these in your pet’s memory box too.
Sympathy cards are a reminder that other people care about you and the loss you have experienced. The fact that they can be re-read at any time provides a lasting sense of comfort.
If you do make a pet memory box, we’d love to hear more about it. Feel free to leave a comment below to tell us what you included.
Need to talk? Our supportive pet loss community offers a safe and compassionate space to grieve.
Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support