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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

July 1, 2011

Expressions of Grief

By David Alderton

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A new trend is emerging in the U.K., reflecting the way in which animal lovers across the country are becoming increasingly attached to their pets. The House Name Plate Company is the U.K.’s largest supplier of house nameplates, signs and letterboxes, but also makes headstones and memorials for pets. As word spreads about the service, this part of the business is experiencing a very significant increase in demand from bereaved owners who want to honor their departed animal companions.

Operating from a factory based at Ruabon, near Wrexham in North Wales, sales of the House Name Plate’s pet memorials—made in slate or acrylic and starting from just $14 each—are already up by 56 percent this year. The company estimates the potential market for memorials of this type throughout the country could be as high as 160,000 a year.

The House Name Plate Company is the U.K.’s largest supplier of house nameplates, signs and letterboxes, but also makes headstones and memorials for pets.A Typical Case

A couple from Pontardawe, near Swansea in South Wales, recently bought one of these slate plaques as a memorial to their faithful Shetland sheepdog, Max, who had been their constant companion for 14 years.

“Max was part of the family,” said owner Elspeth Davies. “He was like a second child and when we went on holiday, we always went to cottages where he could come, too.”

“Max was 14 years and two months old when he died,” she continued. “He is buried in the garden now and the slate memorial plaque is there with him. It really means a lot to us. We wanted to have something to remember Max and this memorial was the most appropriate and meaningful choice that we could find.”

Understanding

According to an eminent psychiatrist, the urge to mark the passing of a loved and valued pet is perfectly natural.

“In modern psychiatry, there is a recognition that pets can have a crucial role in maintaining people’s mental health and the grief of losing them can be as great as losing a human companion,” said Dr Dafydd Alun Jones. “When they pass away, it is quite normal for their owner to commemorate the event with a memorial, which provides a focus for their grief.”

This new and rapidly expanding market may not seem a natural fit for a company with a core business completely outside the pet trade, but in fact, it is very much in accord with the House Name Plate Company’s business ethos.

“We are a traditional manufacturing company and we take pride in delivering quality products to our customers, noted spokesperson Srabani Sen. “All our memorials—just like everything else we produce—are individually handcrafted from the best quality material and finished to the highest standard, so as to ensure that they look good and will last for a considerable period of time.”

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