When did the idea that there is a paradise for pets exist?

A boy is terribly saddened by the death of his turtle. His mother decides, so that he is no longer sad, to organize a funeral. Suddenly, as the celebration begins, the sand shifts and the animal magically comes back to life.

The boy looks at him with bloodshot eyes and whispers: “Let’s kill him.” This is a story by Anthony de Mello, but it comically illustrates the relationship between children and their pets.

The death of an animal is always tragic for its owner. Psychologists say that, despite the pain it causes, it is beneficial for children because it introduces them to the harsh world of loss to which they will inevitably be subjected in the future (although it can also be excessively traumatic ). Children are told that their dog or cat has gone to dog or cat heaven, respectively, and it is completely logical and normal to think that if we go to heaven when we die, our pets must go too. in a transcription adopted for them. When did this concept appear?

Many psychologists talk about the importance for children to suffer from the loss of a pet. They thus get used to the idea of ​​death.

This relationship between man and pet in the afterlife has existed for thousands of years. Human graves dating back to the Stone Age and the Paleolithic have already buried dogs, probably pets, and in the 19th century the first public cemetery dedicated exclusively to animals was established in Hyde Park. Today, pet cemeteries can be found all over the world, reflecting the special emotional bond humans feel toward them.

As reported “LiveScience“, a study found that inscriptions on 20th-century headstones evolved to refer to animals as family members rather than just pets. Over time, they have incorporated more Christian symbols and the belief that they too have an immortal soul, so their owners can join them in the afterlife after death. In other words, our spiritual understanding of our pet and our bond with it has evolved over time. Cemeteries say a lot about our sociology and the evolution of times.

After World War II, more and more people began referring to themselves on gravestones as their pet’s “dad” or “mom.”

As the author of the study, Eric Tourigny, professor of historical archeology at the University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom, says: “Thanks to them, we can study the organization of cities, the socio-economic distribution, the attitude towards concepts such as religion or death…“. It is therefore not unreasonable to think that if human cemeteries have served to explain and understand the past, the same should be true for pet cemeteries.

Lots of dogs and more and more cats

For his study, Tourigny studied more than 1,000 pet headstones buried between the end of the 19th century and 1993. On the one hand, he found that dogs were the main protagonists of the feature, although Over the years, more and more people have decided to bury their cats as well. Likewise, he found that after dramatic events, such as World War II, more people said goodbye in inscriptions calling themselves “dad” or “mom” of the animal in question. As British society became secularized after the Victorian era, tombstones made less mention of the concepts of the afterlife or the eternal souls of animals.

“Cemeteries help us understand the organization of cities, the socio-economic distribution, the attitude towards death…”.

A curious thing has happened: while the ornamentation of people’s headstones has been reduced over time since the First World War, the opposite has happened for those of domestic animals,” he adds. . Expressing strong emotions at the death of a pet is considered more socially acceptable today than in the 19th century, although some people still have qualms about showing their feelings for an animal that has been with us for years and gave us unconditional love and affection.