Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kudos to Companion Cremation Services

When our first dog Sunny died he died at our home in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle and the next day I drove his body to the crematorium. When our second dog Cassi was euthanized by the vet at a clinic in central West Virginia her body was left there to be picked up by a crematorium. When Hermes died at home lastweek we wondered what the options were for cremation in the New York metropolitan area.

I discovered on the ASPCA website some very helpful informtion about what to do when a pet dies at home. The information included a link to Companion Cremation Services.

I called the number for Compion Cremation Services, explained our situation and needs, and was told someone would come to our home in a hour or two to pick up Hermes’ body. An hour and a half later, John D’Arienzo arrived. I experienced him as professional, sympathetic, and even pastoral. My wife experienced him as pleasant, quiet, and introspective.

John arrived carrying a large canine body bag because I had informed the female on the other end of the phone when I called Companion Cremation Services that Hermes had weighed around 80 pounds. John asked for some basic information about Hermes and about me but there was a minimum of paperwork, a one sided form. I escorted John upstairs to the bedroom where Hermes' body was lying under a window air conditioner, I helped John place the body in the body bag. He zipped up the bag and together we carried the body bag down the stairs and out to John’s SUV.

John informed me how much the pickup service and cremation would cost but never asked for payment. He said I could pay late, that the ashes should be available in about a week, and that someone would call when the ashes were ready. This was a Tuesday Morning.

The following Monday I received a phone call informing me that the ashes were ready. I think John would have delivered them but I wanted to pick them up, in part as part of the grieving process but also because I wanted to see the Companion Cremation Services facility myself.

Companion Cremation Services is affiliated with D'Arienzo Funeral Home, Inc. in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Located on a somewhat quiet and mostly residential side street, the facility was clean and modern looking. I was particularly impressed and comforted when greeted by Winston upon entering the facility. Winston is a dog. How appropriate, I thought.

John took a white cardboard box out of a gold paper bag, opened the box, and pulled out a gold tissue paper wrapped tin. In the tin was a sealed plastic bag of ashes. Also in the paper bag was an envelope containing a certificate of cremation. A black ribbon with the words “Beloved Pet” was tied to the bag.

I asked John what I owed and handed over my credit card. I thought the fee was very reasonable.

Should your loved pet die at home in the New York Metro area, I highly recommend Companion Cremation Services. They provided excellent service. Unfortunately, my wife and I still have to decide how, when and where we will dispose of Hermes’ ashes.

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