What delicate houses, so adorable and cute, and the cars! Wait, they’re for pets? Dead pets?
The Puti Pet Gardens in Pingtung City recently held a ceremony designed to ferry the spirits of all the pets on its premises to their next lives while their owners, who often viewed their animals as akin to family members, attended the event with gifts for the deceased creatures. Some brought offerings of fried chicken nuggets, canned fish or bowls of rice with braised minced pork, while others brought houses and furniture especially made from folded joss paper for the occasion.
Amid the solemn Buddhist mantras, owners peered tearfully at photos of their former pets and sought to convey messages explaining how much their beloved animals are missed while expressing their hopes the pets could enjoy a pleasant afterlife. At the end of the ceremony the offerings were all burnt.
Meanwhile, owners spoke of how they continued to pamper their pets even after their death. One woman surnamed Tsai (蔡) said every time she visited her dog Niu Niu (妞妞) at Puti, she always brought her dog’s favorite pork rib lunchbox along with a bag of bone-shaped dog biscuits.
To ensure that Niu Niu was living well in her new world, she would also buy a paper house and joss paper and then burn them as an offering to her treasured pet, Tsai said, adding that she spent about NT$1,000 per visit.
Two sisters surnamed Lin (林) bought four units of storage space at Puti’s pagoda-style columbarium for their dog Hua Hua (花花) at a cost of NT$10,000.
Every now and then the sisters “redecorate” Hua Hua’s house, adding chairs and tables, flower vases and window perches that they made themselves.
Such procedures are not cheap, costing about NT$2,000 per visit, the Lin sisters said, adding that they hoped Hua Hua would be able to enjoy the change of scenery in its house.
Another owner surnamed Song (宋) from Greater Kaohsiung also bought a storage unit at Puti for her dog Nei Nei (ㄋㄟㄋㄟ), which she filled with all sorts of delicate miniature furniture, a garden and even a tiny car.
“Nei Nei was loyal and docile and was like family,” Song said, adding that when the dog passed away two years ago, she observed the traditional custom of mourning and going on a vegetarian diet for 49 days, reciting mantras each day for her beloved pet dog and coming to the hallowed Puti Pet Gardens once a week to ensure Nei Nei’s spirit would not get lonely.
According to Puti’s manager Chu Yi-ling (朱義玲), the facility accommodates urns of all types for beloved animals that have passed away and is not limited to cats and dogs.
The venue also has storage units where there are urns containing the ashes of pet turtles, birds and fish, Chu said, adding that owners often continue to love their pets even after they had died.