The grave marker is another way to make concrete the memory of a special friend. One grave at Hartsdale, for an animal named Grumpy, had this written on the headstone: "August 4, 1915-September 20, 1926. His sympathetic love and understanding enriched our lives. He waits for us." The love and grief of Grumpy's family is palpable in that message, as is the idea, which many subscribe to today, that humans and animals will share in an afterlife together. Many of the graves at Hartsdale have inscriptions written in foreign languages and scripts, demonstrating that the love between human and non-human extends across cultures.
Unlike most pet cemeteries, Hartsdale is unusual in that humans can elect to be buried along with their pets, and indeed, the cemetery hosts hundreds of people who want to remain close to their companions after death.
Pet cemeteries have long been ridiculed in this country as a sign of American excessiveness. Erroll Morris' 1978 documentary film about the industry, Gates of Heaven, shows many of the animal lovers who use pet cemeteries to be bizarre, and the film is treated as a comedy today. But it is clear that, in 1896 and in 2012, the bonds between human and non-human animal are powerful, and that for many, death does not sever them. It may even make them stronger.