Psychoanalysts often refer to pets as ‘self-objects’, which essentially means internalized representations of a physical item that provide people with psychological fulfillment.
In essence, for pet owners, their furry companions are manifestations of a psychological fulfillment that is comparable to no other.
Pet parents are so familiar with their pets that they become part of their being.
As such, the death of a pet is a catastrophic affair for pet owners.
Most people are overwhelmed with grief as the thought of letting go gives them unimaginable pain.
While this grief is an inescapable reality, letting go is not a must.
Stuffing offers you a viable means of continuing to cherish glorious memories of your pup by maintaining a very life-like representation of him.
It is a means of preserving your beloved dog that ensures the animal remains a part of your life.
What Is Stuffing?
Stuffing is a multi-disciplinary method of animal preservation that incorporates anatomy, cobbler craft, carpentry, sculpturing, and even painting.
It is a delicate process that can take several months to complete.
There are three stages involved, namely, flaying, stuffing, and shaping.
Once a pet taxidermist receives the body of a dead dog, the first step is to flay the pet.
This means carefully stripping off the corpse’s skin.
An integral element of the stage is to ensure the removed skin remains intact.
All the fat on the hide’s underside is also scrapped off.
Cedar dust or borax is commonly used to help the skin dry quickly.
Borax, which is made from boron, is also used as a preserving agent to ensure the fur maintains vibrant look years down the line.
The animal is stuffed with excelsior, wood wool, or cotton.
In some cases, the dog’s skull is used to ensure the pet’s structure is accurately reconstructed.
After stuffing is completed, the animal is sewn up and tightly wrapped for some time to re-create its shape.
Using pictures of the dog provided by the owner, taxidermists go the extra mile to ensure even the tiniest details are neatly captured.
This includes using paint, glass eyes, and even wood carvings to re-create your beloved dog in its full glory.
Top Tips for Stuffing Your Dog after Death
1. Every Minute Counts
After the pet dies, you should immediately find a way of preserving the body, failure to which it will start decomposing.
The first thing a taxidermist will consider before the stuffing process is the condition of the body.
Signs of decomposition will make it impossible to taxidermy the pet as the body is already naturally compromised.
Therefore, place the pet dog in a freezer as you plan your next steps to ensure it remains in good shape.
Alternatively, immediately rush the dog’s body to a taxidermist who will preserve it for as long as you will deem necessary.
2. Consider All Possible Factors
It is prudent not to rush to any decision without due diligence.
This means taking into consideration all the possible options, from cremating to freeze-drying, and ensuring that taxidermy is actually your preferred choice.
For instance, some members of the household might not be comfortable living under the same roof with a stuffed animal.
Others might have religious or cultural reservations about this preservation method.
There is also the issue of finances.
So, think long and hard before signing off on the stuffing.
You may also want to check: Is It Weird To Taxidermy Your Pet?
3. Consult Your Personal Vet
Take time to sit down with your vet beforehand.
One way this medical professional can help is by safely preserving your dog’s body as you make all the necessary arrangements.
Additionally, he/she will offer you integral advice on what to expect or what to look out for during your pet stuffing.
This information will make it easier for you to make the right decision in the long run.
4. Plan Accordingly
Once you set your mind on stuffing, proceed to make all the required arrangements to ensure a smooth process.
This will involve visiting possible taxidermists to get quotes and get an idea of the quality of service to expect from each.
Also, think of how you would like your dog to be positioned as well as how you are going to get your finances in order.
5. Choose the Right Taxidermist
Today’s market is filled with all manner of taxidermists, including rogue and uncertified professionals.
To get the best stuffing results, it is important to choose the best taxidermist for the job.
So, consider his/her qualifications and ask to see specimens of their previous work.
More importantly, meet the taxidermist first to gauge their personal attributes.
You want a professional, trustworthy, and non-judgmental professional who will take all your requests into consideration.
6. Pick Appropriate Photos
Usually, the taxidermist will require you to provide them with some photos of your dog when delivering the body.
These photos help them establish details of the pet’s physical appearance when it was healthy, such as weight and fur color.
Consequently, find proper photos that show the dog from all angles.
7. Consent is a Must
A taxidermist needs you to approve the process before he/she can begin.
This is particularly true in cases where you take the dog’s body to the taxidermist for storage immediately after death.
So, as part of honoring your wishes, keep in mind that the stuffing process cannot commence without your official approval.
8. Take Time to Process Your Grief
Once you leave the dog’s body at the taxidermist for stuffing, it will take a couple of months for the process to be complete.
Take this time to process your grief.
The taxidermy will bring up memories of your beloved companion.
Therefore, without processing the loss, it can be overwhelming to live with the taxidermy of your cherished canine companion.
Take all possible measures to ensure you are in a position to cope with grief prior to picking up the taxidermy.
Consider attending therapy sessions during this time.
You could also take the time to reflect on your loss and ready yourself for the taxidermy.
You may also want to check: I Want To See My Dead Dog Again: What Can I Do?
9. Asks Questions
To ensure that your dog’s memory is honored accordingly, ensure that you understand all that makes up the stuffing process.
Sit down with your taxidermist and ask anything you feel that you do not fully understand.
- What materials will be used for stuffing?
- How long will the procedure take?
- What shade will the fur be?
Do not shy away from asking all the right questions.
10. Stay in Touch
Although micromanaging can be annoying, it is important to maintain contact with the taxidermist throughout the process.
It is not about micromanaging, it is about ensuring the taxidermy is made according to your wishes.
11. Pick a Pose
There is no limit to the range of poses that you could choose for your dog.
The pet could be sitting, lying down or standing.
You could even go the extra mile and have the dog positioned in its favorite seat or any other creative style that is guaranteed to give you fond memories of your beloved pet.
12. Observe Proper Maintenance of the Taxidermy
Ensure you maintain the taxidermy appropriately.
This includes dusting it at least once a week and cleaning it yearly.
Use a damp cloth and mild detergent for the annual cleaning.
Quick Mistakes to Avoid
To ensure your taxidermy remains intact for long, there are certain mistakes that you should avoid.
Top of the list, do not touch it very often. Understandably so, you will touch the stuffing once in a while out of sentimentality.
However, overdoing this will disrupt its hair patterns and eventually ruin its entire outlook.
Also, avoid exposing it to smoke and extreme temperatures.
Humidity, direct sunlight or smoke can gradually discolor the stuffing.
Lastly, never use house cleaners on the taxidermy.
The chemicals used in these solutions can react with the dried skin, leaving a damaging residue.
In sum, stuffing your dead dog allows you to cherish all the fond memories for a lifetime.
This process ensures you have a life-like memorial that will keep the pet’s cosmic force around you at all times.
While most people would rather not think of their pet’s death, it is important to watch out for the signs and consider taxidermy early enough.
The stuffing will provide you with a lovely representation of the dog’s life, ensuring the memories are forever embedded in your heart and mind.
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Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.