Sunday, July 16, 2006

The British like to think of themselves as a nation of animal lovers, it appeals to their sense of identity. Having lived in the UK for most of my life, I'm not so sure that it's true. It seems that stories such as this one are all too commonplace in the news.
The French on the other hand, they make no such claims, stick something with four legs, fur and a cute face in front of them and they're as likely to eat is as they are to cuddle it.
Having said that, if they do take an animal as a pet, you can be sure it will be treated with a care and attention so often found lacking in the way UK pets get treated. Yesterday I visited Cimetière des Chiens on the banks of the river Seine in the Asnières district of Paris. This is the worlds first recorded Pet Cemetery (opened in 1899 ) and counts some rather famous residents amongst it's internees, including, I was surprised to learn, Rin Tin Tin , Star of the silver screen. Of course when one hears the words Pet Cemetary one tends to think of a shoebox containing deceased hamster, hastily buried at the bottom of the garden, with maybe a little makeshift cross fashioned out of lollipop sticks. This place couldn't be further from that image, it is to all intents and purposes a typical cemetery with the sole exception that it contains animals and not humans. The gravestones are laid out in traditional style, some simple and dignified, some overbearing and kitsch to a degree that would have caused Liberace to blush with embarrassment. Standing proudly at the entrance to the cemetery is a monument to a Saint Bernard who went by the name of Barry. Barry was a mountain rescue dog, his monument tells us, he saved 40 people and died in 1841 saving the 41st. It isn't just domesticated animals who are buried here either, there is at least one wolf, one bear, various monkeys and the occasional horse. One last thing to note about Cimetière des Chiens is that a well as it's inhabitants who have passed on, there is a thriving colony of cats who have made it their home. they spend the day sunning themselves around and on the marble headstones, probably to the great consternation of the the doggy spirits buried there.

Check out more photos at my flckr account


Madam said...

Cemetiere des chiens, beautiful pictures. Asked the brother if he would take us there when next in Paris, don't think my daughter would like it much though (her wee cat is quite old now and we have had the "going to heaven" discussion). My sister in law thinks its all a bit much just for animals, she does say Parisians treat their animals better than their children sometimes(she is kidding, I think)

Thank you again for the pictures and the info on the cemetiere we are always on the lookout for new places to visit.

Cruithne said...

Thanks Madam. It's true about Parisians treating their animals like kids though.

Cybez said...

Was there a Republican plot? ;-)

Cruithne said...


Cybez said...

I've never visited the Republican plot in the City cemetery in Belfast, though I noticed on TV last week that volunteers were cleaning up one of the cemeteries in Belfast which might have been that one. Another cemetery they showed was completely overgrown.Does this say something about the people in Norn Iron?

Iain said...

Fantastic picture C.