Amongst many of the wonderful queries that pop in to my inbox on a weekly basis, by far the most common question that arises is:
Will you taxidermy my pet?
Consideration of a forever pet
I don’t expect that the majority pet owners have considered getting their beloved companion preserved, until the day they cross the rainbow bridge to heaven…
the unbearable thought of living without them when the inevitable happens, does make taxidermy a very viable option to ensure a pet stays eternally by your side.
While the idea of having a ‘forever pet’ sounds idyllic, the majority of people that enquire about this possibility, do so the very day their pet has departed, which is understandably a very emotional time. You may even be in that very difficult situation now, which has lead you to being here, in which case my sincere condolences go out to you.
A shared experience
It can be hard to express my empathy through the blue glow of a computer screen, however, as a real human person the other side of this screen that has shared the same experience of loosing a beloved pet, I hope it reassures you that I am not writing this blog without an authentic understanding.
This may not be the information you want to hear, but I am here to assure you that taxidermy will not heal your wounds and the hole left in your heart, but time will.Krysten Newby
The emotional bond between a pet owner and their animal is unlike any other. They know every single detail, characteristic and quirk of their pet and this is part of the reason why there is just so much pressure and responsibility involved with such a project.
I predominately work with wild animals in my craft, specialising in birds, but for comparison purposes in the following example, I’m going to be using the European Stoat.
From an observers standpoint, each wild stoat is practically identical in appearance and it’s very hard to distinguish an individual from another (all the reference images on google could be an image of the same individual!), unless they have a biological mutation or genetic colour quirk.
When one lands upon my workshop table, I already have an expectation of what it’s going to be like to process, what the anatomical structure should look like and how I’m going to recreate it. I also know what eye size they require, how they move in the field, what their biology and ecology is like, (being a self confessed nature nerd!) and how I am going to portray the essence and character of their living existence, in to an eternal one.
Where, fundamentally the actual technical process would be the same as any other animal I take on, albeit with a higher degree of meticulousness, you can hopefully begin to understand how the very individual nature of pets can leave me in very uncharted territory when it comes to preserving them.
Knowing the subject
Even with a thousand photos, I have no previous experience or understanding of how this animal lived, what it’s character, essence or that ‘je ne sais quoi’ for a better term, is. It would be impossible and very naive of me to try and re-create it, (unless I lived in your house along side him/her for many years!).
For this reason, it is my humble opinion that not even the best taxidermist in the world will be capable of representing your pet to the degree in which you remembered them by. This is something to take in to serious consideration when deciding on the preservation of your pet and wether is the right decision for you.
The unpredictable nature of taxidermy
With taxidermy being such an organic process, there are situations out of my control that can go wrong, such as ‘fur slip’, which as a part of the decomposition process in which enzymes catalyse the epidermis to separate from the dermis, leaving the skin completely hairless. This irreversible occurrence is particularly prevalent, but not limited to, smaller animals and certain species, which would result in the project being a failure.
I am proud to exercise my artistic abilities to the highest standard with every project I work on, I will not let anything leave my workshop without myself or my customer being completely happy with the end result.
Therefor, if I do not have the ability to make a piece of taxidermy work my absolute best, especially with animals that hold so much visual emotion such as cats and dogs, I will absolutely hold my hands up and admit that. Harbouring the knowledge that recreating a beloved pet to their true likeness through the art of taxidermy is an impossibility in my eyes, I simply won’t attempt such a project.
I couldn’t imagine being responsible for inducing heartbreak for the second time, if a client’s expectation differed from the reality of the final result.
I should also hi-light the moral issue of profiting off of people’s grief, like some sort of backstreet clairvoyant…the very thought makes me feel deeply uncomfortable.
For further reading in to the complications and protocols regarding pet taxidermy, I highly recommend thoroughly reading Philip Legget’s pet policy.
It’s fantastic he mentions the perverse situation of a taxidermist talking a client out of potential work…but it truly is a humungous decision to make and he hits the nail on the head with all the points I have raised here and goes in to a lot more detail, with even more points to consider. Please click the button below to be redirected to his portfolio and website: