Pet Cemetery
The return of Lucky

Who has a dead pet in their freezer story they wanna share?

I’ll go first!

I have a dead chicken in my freezer.

As you may remember one of our chicks, little Lucky, died during his second week of life.

Poor little Lucky.  He died right in the palm of my hand.  I didn’t know what to do and I could barely see where I was going from the tears, so I stumbled up my basement stairs to the living room where my boyfriend was settling into the couch to watch Survivor.

He jumped up, took two strides across the living room floor and grabbed an empty cardboard matchstick box.  He opened it up and I slid Lucky in.

Good.  That was over with.  Phew.

I started off with a fluffy dead chick in my hand and now I had a fluffy dead chick in a matchbox in my hand.

What the  hell now?

I wasn’t flushing him, I wasn’t dumping him in with the composting.  So now what?  What do you do with an animal that up and dies on you in your house?

Well the logical choice of course.  Stick him in the freezer.  Which is what I did temporarily.  Just until I could figure out what to do with him.

It took me  150 days to figure out to do with him.  Give or take a week.  So there sat Lucky in a matchbox in my freezer for the past 5 months.  Why so long?  Well,  I can tell you I definitely didn’t forget about him.  At any given time I couldn’t tell you how many whole chickens without feathers I have in my freezer, but I always know how many with feathers I have.   Also, any meat with a first name in your freezer tends be remembered.

And besides,  every time I wanted ice cream, I’d have to move Lucky.

So this week, I shoved the Haagen Dazs aside, grabbed Lucky and gave him a  proper burial.  I’d always kind of planned to bury him under the coop so now that it was done, I could finally grab a shovel and started digging.

 

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Once I got down to the task, I decided putting Lucky underneath the coop was kind of creepy.  Unlike keeping him in the freezer beside our ice cream for the past 5 months which was entirely normal.

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So I buried lucky underneath a weeping Beech right beside the coop.  Go ahead.  You can be honest.  Exactly how insane do you think I am at this moment?  I know you’re thinking it.

 

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It’s a pretty spot right near the other chickens.  But not underneath them.  I have no idea why beside is less creepy than underneath.  It just is.

 

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Once I laid his stone, we almost had closure.  And some extra space in the freezer.  There was just one last thing …

 

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The service.  It was beautiful.

 

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And then it was over.

 

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Rest in peace little Lucky.  You were a good egg.

The burial marker was sent to me by reader LeeAnne. She also sells them online. See all her work here.

118 Comments

  1. pixie says:

    Had you buried him under the coop he would have haunted the rest of the chickens. You done good. Love the marker.

  2. Pam kern says:

    I am very late to this post. I just discovered your wonderful blog and this post was so funny and sweet that I had to comment.
    We have several pets hurried in a clearing at the back of our property, all with different stories. We also have our Labrador Raven’s ashes in a cookie tin on our bookshelf. We haven’t gotten around to placing them yet, it has been several years.
    The funniest story we have of a freezer pet was when our cockatiel Bud died. We had moved to the home we built 19 years ago and immediately added a couple of cats to our pet family of one dog and Bud. Our cat Blizzard just would not leave Bud alone, she really wanted to give him her special brand of kitty love. She was a bird hunter through and through.
    She would jump on top of his cage and try to stick her paw through the bars. I think it was all to much for Bud and one day I came downstairs to poor Bud dead on the floor of his cage. Some sort of birdy heart attack I assumed. I didn’t want the kids to freak out and hubs was out of town so I scooped him up and with tears running down my face slipped him into a paper lunch sack and popped him in the freezer. When hubs returned we took him to the back yard and had a little service and then buried him. The following morning my husband opened the front door to let the dog out and there was Bud on the front porch along with Blizzard and feathers everywhere. Blizzard was determined to get that bird even if it took digging him up from his little grave. This time poor Bud was placed back in a paper sack and had a less dignified burial in the trash bin. My kids to this day at 20 and 24 do not know the story of Bud’s return from the grave. Blizzard went on to perpetrate the great hamster massacre of 01 and that was the end of small animals in our house. We stick to cats and dogs now. Blizzard has moved on to the great pet shop in the sky where hopefully she is now at peace with those she loved to hunt.
    Thanks for the wonderful pet post and your lovely blog, Pam

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Pam. I’m happy you found my blog. That was a GREAT story. Poor bird. :( My sister had a cocker spaniel and a budgie. She came home one day to a cocker spaniel and a multitude of feathers throughout the house. ~ karen

  3. Sharon says:

    I’m late to the party, but I have a dead pet in the freezer story, too.

    We had a cat that had slipped out of our apartment for literally about 3 minutes. She wasn’t spayed (because I was a dirt poor single mother at the time), and 3 minutes was all it took for her to have a romantic rendezvous. Except we didn’t know that she’d found love, and never suspected she was pregnant, because she was already pretty plump. But then, on the day of my daughter’s 12 birthday party, she went into labor. I have been a midwife at several cat births, but never in the middle of preparing for a kid’s party. A kid’s party that includes making gingerbread houses as part of the activities.

    A kid’s party that includes making gingerbread houses as part of the activities, only not one single guest shows up. So it turns into a kid’s party where I have to attend to a cat in labor AND run around to all the neighbors and invite them to please, please come make gingerbread houses with us so that my daughter will quit crying.

    So my cat has one kitten. ONE. And it won’t nurse and it’s not moving. So I’m filling ziplock bags with hot water and wrapping them in towels to keep the kitten warm, because momma cat is ignoring it, and I’m trying to feed it a little condensed milk with an eyedropper. And make gingerbread houses. And reassure my daughter, who named the kitten “Rocky”, because he was a fighter.

    The kitten survived a few hours and then died. Much sadness. We couldn’t bury it outside because it was the middle of winter. So…Rocky ended up in a cake box in my freezer for months. And the next time I went into my freezer, I saw that my daughter had written a eulogy on the box in her childish handwriting. She had taken the Skid Row song, “18 and Life”, and adjusted the lyrics to the kitten:

    “Rocky was a young cat, he had a heart of gold.
    Lived just a few hours and worked his paws to the bone.
    Just barely out of momma, came from the edge of town.
    Fought like a tiger so no one could take him down.

    GOODBYE
    ROCKY,
    WE LOVE YOU!!!!”

    Yeah. Every time I opened the freezer, there it was. I dug a grave with a soup spoon in the spring. My daughter, of course, had just about forgotten about him by that time, and just said, “Oh, you buried him? Good.”

  4. Amber says:

    Definitely not insane.
    Years back our poodle mix died in late November when the ground was frozen. My mom wanted to bury him in his box in the spring, so we wrapped him up in his box with his blanket and added him to the freezer until his spring funeral. Sadly, we forgot to tell our tenant who shared the freezer. She recognized the box and wouldn’t use the freezer all winter.

  5. cristine says:

    http://www.nowness.com/day/2011/8/25?ecid=ema1543&CID=

    Karen~
    Saw this, thought of you…& your chickens.
    Regards,
    Cristine McC

    • Karen says:

      Cristine ~ Love it! Thanks for posting it. :) I have my own chicken video coming up in a week or so. I *love* my chicken video. Thx. again! ~ karen

  6. Amy says:

    When our dog died, our vet’s office did a cast of her paw print and they all signed the back of it. Then they gave it to us when they returned her ashes to us. Funny thing is that they spelled her name wrong! Her ashes are buried in the backyard under a dog statute with our other dog’s ashes.
    Our freezer in the garage on the other hand, has been the proud home of a dissected squid that my son brought home from 5th grade and swore we could not get rid of under any circumstance. Fortunately (unfortunately?), someone left the freezer door open recent;y and everything thawed out. Oops! There goes the squid!

  7. My pet bunny died in April and we totally gave him a little bunny burial and funeral in the yard. My in-laws had two pet mice that died and they stayed in the freezer for WAY LONGER than 5 months. Their youngest son was maybe 12 at the time and he was always bringing it up at family dinners and such, asking when they were gonna get around to burying the mice. Quite appetizing mealtime discussion!

  8. Linda says:

    Oh I think this makes you a really sweet person. Too many people wouldn’t do that. I have an entire graveyard in my front yard on one side. Everything from fish to birds and lizzerds. Oh that reminds me there is a dead skink sitting on my bookshelf.

    • Karen says:

      Linda – LOL! I’ve never heard anyone end a sentence with “there’s a dead skink on my bookshelf”. :) ~ karen

  9. Sheila says:

    I don’t think you’re crazy at all…but that’s coming from crazy…since I have a cremated cat in a box in my lingerie drawer. I can’t believe I’m admitting this. But I get it. And a former roommate had put her passed parakeet in the freezer until she could give it a proper burial. So I don’t think it’s so unusual. I think it shows love & concern rather than just chucking the poor little thing.
    About the cat in my dresser drawer, we were moving to NY (my husband was already there) and the last night after packing the moving truck, I went in to the bathroom to get our two cats so we could leave for the hotel…and I found our precious kitty, Snickers, dead on the floor. It was awful for me. Add to that, I had to call my husband in NY and let him know, and he was VERY attached to Snickers. There’s a bigger story around it but it’s just sad. The whole thing happened during that time of the tainted cat food. Friends who were helping us move took Snickers to the emergency vet clinic (though we knew he was dead) while I took care of my 5yo son who was also crying. They cremated the remains and sent them to us in NY. There, we had no place to bury him…or nothing seemed right for burial. Six months later, we moved back to KS and back came Snickers with us. :-) And he’s been in my dresser ever since. I love the idea of adding ashes to a special stone, though. Snickers was my husbands & my first pet after getting married and was a VERY special part of our family. The stone would make a great little memorial.
    BTW, Karen, your kind of crazy is just wonderful. :-) RIP Lucky.

  10. kelliblue says:

    Growing up, we kids were never allowed to have pets so my first foray into petdom was when I reached middle aged. I had 2 cats (now just one), and one of them, Arnie, a sweet, funny looking, old Devon Rex, died one night inside his little ‘house’. :( Because I’m in an apt., I could not bury him, nor freeze him because he was too big, and he had died all stretched out in his house, so I could not get him out of it! :( Sadly I ended up taking the whole er, kit-n-kaboodle to my local vet’s office…they later sent me a cute little plaque with Arnie’s paw print embedded in it! :) The death of a much loved pet is hard no matter WHAT age…I still miss him!

  11. Trysha says:

    “I have no idea why beside is less creepy than underneath.”

    Compared to inside the freezer, beside the ice cream and underneath the other frozen chicken….

  12. marné says:

    Our goose, Sally, has a big log as her marker. My husband painted it white, I think he was more upset by her dying than even I was. I went to visit my parents for a week, and she just stopped eating while I was gone. We found her in her little wading pool when we got home from the airport. Damn her! Why couldn’t she hold on for just a few more hours!

    Suffice it to say, there was no room for a goose in our freezer, so we had to dig the grave through our tears.

  13. TufaGirl says:

    I wish I had thought of this. Recent move to a rental property while waiting for our current place and my cockatiel (24 years old) passed. I had a little burial at our rental place cause it was all I knew to do. What a beautiful memorial for your Lucky.

  14. Amanda says:

    We had a dead chicken in the freezer for years!! We had our rooster, Spot, as a house pet for seven years. When he died, we knew we wanted to have him mounted. I guess the timing wasn’t quite right until my mom moved from the house I grew up in last year and he finally had to come out of the freezer. He now has a happy new home on top of the cupboard in her kitchen. Which is fitting because he used to sleep in a large coffee box in our old kitchen :)

    We really loved him. And, he was too pretty to bury! (mix of silver-laced wyandotte and bard rock) I love going back to my mom’s home and seeing him there – brings back so many great memories.

  15. Karen,
    Been busy in the studio lately and have just spent over an hour reading all the comments and stories. What an entertaining blog you have and your readers are a bunch of really nice people.

    I didn’t know you’d kept Lucky for burial and good for you! Even though you spent an hour crying the day he died, I worried when I sent the stone. Lets face it, there are only 2 kinds of people that mail a grave stone to a person they’ve never met. I’m happy Lucky’s stone fit in so well and that you aren’t thinking the the return address is really the location of an asylum.

  16. Heather says:

    When I came home from college, there was a shoebox in the freezer. Since I’d never seen shoe boxes in the freezer BEFORE going to college, I couldn’t imagine what was inside, and I opened it. It was a dead cockatiel. My mom had decided she wanted to try her hand at taxidermy, so when the neighbor’s pet died she actually had the nerve to ask them for it.

    My mom was a biologist, and it was not uncommon to find bugs frozen in mason jars in the freezer door. Kept them looking good until she could pin them in a collection. That was normal to me. A cockatiel? Not normal.

  17. nancy says:

    Oh my god. I have been entranced by your blog for an hour (started with the backyard redo, and thought: this girl is a riot. And completely awesome). Then I found this!!!!! I AM NOT ALONE! Anyhoo, buried my cat finally mid-june (she gave up the ghost in January; we had kitty hospice running from thanksgiving until then. She hung on and hung on! Gruesome and heartbreaking and stressful after 17.5 yrs!) So, the kindly vet kept her in THEIR freezer until I appeared out of nowhere and picked her up. Finally in the ground, tearful funeral; I freaked out because she thawed a bit before we got the hole dug all the way and looked exactly the same. Oy. Anyway, the stone is a mosaic kit I picked up from the craft store and have meant to make all summer. It’s still in the box, on the kitchen counter. But she does have a sign my 8 yr old drew that says Beloved Pet Buried, in a ziploc bag, hanging from a plant marker. So, not only your riotous post of insanity (to which I seem to have a claim, as well) but a whole host of confession/comments have absolutely made my day. Oh, the humanity. Cheers.

  18. Morgan says:

    This story had me near tears. Sad for the loss of a pet, and amused by how insanely honest and funny you are!
    I have a post mortem pet story to share. I don’t even know how to type this without sounding awful and insane. But I grew up always with a zoo of a house. So not only am I a huge animal lover, but I’ve come to be the strongest and most rational in my family when it comes to death and/or animal emergencies. Dog’s head stuck in the fence, chinchilla suicide, dog broke in the house and had a fowl feast from the bird cage, cat fell asleep and rolled down the staircase, etc. Keeping my mother sane and just shy of hysterics when any event should occur.
    So I was in high school and my parents were gone for the weekend. Our super old cat Marci was so shy, so sweet. We rescued her from kitty mill breeder hell when I was little, and she was frangile and ancient but a pistol really. Well anyhow, she liked to curl up and nap in the poofy round kitty bed in the curved nook of the L shape couch. Didn’t like to be bothered, but wanted to always be near. Being the good kid I was, I spent the quiet weekend doing homework while my parents were away. Started Friday night, gave Marci a kiss goodnight and made sure the cats and dogs had food and water. The dogs were content toward the back of the house/yard. And Id hang out in the living room doing homework, Marci snuggled in her same bed…Fast forward to the beginning of the week, my parents having been home since Sunday, and we find a very cold kitty snuggled in the exact same spot in her bed. She passed sometime between late Saturday and Monday. :(
    To this day if an animal of mine doesn’t move for even 10 minutes I poke em gently. They probably hate me. But I have to do right by Marci and not let anyone else go cold on the couch.
    Ah it’s awful!

  19. Bethany says:

    Also, that should say “dogs”, not “digs”. Autocorrect. Sheesh

  20. Bethany says:

    Ok, I know I’m a day late and a dollar short on this one (I’m bringing that expression back, btw), but this post I can really, REALLY relate to. We’ve had everything from grown chickens to ducks to squirrels to cats in the box freezer we kept in our garage when I was growing up. We lived on a smallish farm and animals were always dying of some disease, or killed by predators, or something, and their remains were bagged and frozen until we could have a proper burial. In the back if my parents’ property is “Boot Hill”, where about 25-30 animals are buried. All our digs, cats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, snakes, and a white peacock named Honkers that we had growing up. The best freezer-related story though is when I was 15, I was homeschooled, and part of a co-op at my church. My dad taught biology to all the kids my age in the co-op, and when it came time for dissection, we did three major projects: a cat, a shark, and a mink. The dissection was done over a three-class period, and after each class, my dad and I brought the partially dissected animals home and stored them in the fridge in our garage, which is also where we kept the soda cans. The preservative smell was fantastic (sarcasm). One day my neighbor, whom I had a crush on, came over and went to help himself to a soda, and came back asking why there was a mutilated cat in our fridge. I told him we were waiting for the next full moon to finish sacrificing it. I always wondered why he never asked me out…

    • Karen says:

      Bethany – I once said “hello” to a boy in highschool by saying “greetings”. I’ll never get over that. Not quite as bad as a fridge full of partially sacrificed animals, but still … Cheers to your pet cemetary. :) ~ karen

  21. Michelle says:

    Not weird at all…that is where the veterinarians keep dead animals. It is FREEZING, so germs are not going to do much. Like others, I kept my cat in the freezer for quite a few months before I was emotionally prepared to bury her. Now if you have a freezer full of dead pets, that may be something you want to discuss with your therapist. :)

  22. Leanne says:

    I don’t think you’re insane. I *do* hope the little matchbox in your freezer was inside a sealed bag or tupperware or… something. Otherwise the whole germ factor has me freaked out. But other than the dead chicken germ contaminated ice cream… I think it’s sweet.

  23. Cara says:

    My boss had her favorite jack russel in the freezer in the basement for 9 years. A psychic told her prior to his demise that it was a husband from a past life.The front hall closet has the ashes of 2 or 3 dogs and one secretary…

  24. Jo says:

    When one of my aquarium fish dies I wrap it in wax paper and put it in a ziploc baggie in the freezer until I have time to use it for gyotaku art. I figure it is better to be part of an art project than to be flushed.
    …jo

  25. So I really like your weeping Beech tree and thought I’d google it to see if I could plant one in my baby sized back yard. The ones I found are ginormous! Do you have a dwarf one or something? Because the ones on Wikipedia would easily eat a whole house for breakfast!

    • Karen says:

      Nikki – The tree was here when I moved in 12 years ago. And it hasn’t grown an inch! Well maybe an inch. So you’re right. It must be a dwarf version. It’s a beautiful, beautiful tiny tree. ~ karen

    • Andra says:

      We have a weeping birch in our backyard. They get rather huge! Ours is over 40 feet tall this year! They are beautiful though, and if you like to listen to the leaves rustle in the wind, in the fall… even better!

      Karen,
      So sorry for the loss of Lucky. You did a good thing! We never had deceased animals in the freezer. We did have a live calf in the bathtub once. She lived there for about a week until she died. She was born in a blizzard in January, and her Momma didnt make it. So my Mom put her in the tub, because it makes it easier to clean up messes, and our dryer vented under it. Over the years, we had many baby animals living in the house. None in the freezer though. Oh well, there is still time! As right now, we have 6 cats! I would have 7, but my husband threatened to leave if I rescued another!

  26. Yasmin says:

    I just found this blog (amazing coop by the way) and this post, well, it was awesome. Why? Because it’s real. And I can relate. And you just seem awesome. Well done.

  27. Neal says:

    I had friends who sat Shiva (and invited the neighbors) for their rabbit when it died.

  28. Carol-Anne says:

    That’s the perfect spot Karen! Bless you for your care and comnpassion…

  29. julie s says:

    Crazy? Pfft! I can’t help but think that with some advanced notice, I could have fashioned you some tiny black pill-box hats with tiny black mesh veils for the surviving chicken mourners.

  30. Jen says:

    Aw. We’ve all had those pets, random creatures that come home with our kids, birds that fall from nests, etc. Value life at all in any form and it’s totally understandable why you’d put it in the freezer and later bury it. We have a regular cemetery going on in an unused corner of our backyard. My husband wonders every time about the person who will live here some day and decide to put a bush in that corner of the yard; they’ll certainly wonder what sort of animal-killing people used to live here.

  31. A-M says:

    Oh that is the sweetest post ever. My boys read over my shoulder exclaiming, “awwww” all the way through it. A-M xx

  32. Katie says:

    Wow I thought my family were the only ones this crazy. Back in May my mother and I took a trip to Turkey and while we were gone my childhood cat died. It was sad but she had been sick for awhile. Anywho..my dad wanted to bury her at the cottage because that was always her favourite place to be. So because we weren’t at home and they didn’t plan on going there for a bit, in the freezer she went. Stangely enough it made sense to me, but anyone I told acted like it was the most disgusting thing ever! I mean its not like we didn’t wrap her up and everything. Haha

  33. Roxanne says:

    I’ve had expired goldfish in the freezer until the weather proved to be more acceptable for a funeral service.

    As far as what to do with the ashes on a beloved pet: I have two cats who lived to old age: Martha, who died @ 22 (I had her for 11 of those years and she slept in my arms every night) and Snapple, who died at 14 (but had been with me only 3 years). I have their ashes in two little wooden boxes from the vet and, when I finally move on, they will go with me. I promised Martha and Snapple I would never give them away or leave them alone.

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