In the Realm of Ashes | Community Notebook | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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In the Realm of Ashes

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Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:30 pm
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Wanting some space, I go around back to check the chimney. There’s no smoke or smell whatsoever, just a plume of heat emanating from the top of the stack, and any thoughts that animals might avoid the funereal location turn out to be nothing more than superstitious fabrications. Birds fly nearby, monarch butterflies bounce among the red blossoms, and neighboring dogs stroll the fence line, their only obvious concern being my presence near their turf.

The afternoon doesn’t hit home until I’m driving back to Albany. Imagined or not, I can’t get the smell of the maggots out of my sweater. There’s no way to avoid brooding on morbid churchyard images and I picture what I’ll write on my cat’s headstone when the time comes: He Was My Friend. What’s compelling about the Walkers is that they treat every animal as if it were a close companion. Not even the bones at the back of the shelter’s incinerator are forgotten, and Andrea tells me that she plans on cremating those and spreading the ashes when the oven is finally taken out. Wanting it as much for herself and the memory of Buddy as for the abandoned creature and the good of the shelter, she says, quietly, “At least that’ll be some kind of completion.”

Final ash processor. - AMBER S. CLARK
  • Amber S. Clark
  • Final ash processor.
AMBER S. CLARK
  • Amber S. Clark
Cremation remains prior to pulverizing. - AMBER S. CLARK
  • Amber S. Clark
  • Cremation remains prior to pulverizing.
The crematorium at Buddy’s Place. - AMBER S. CLARK
  • Amber S. Clark
  • The crematorium at Buddy’s Place.
A graph to monitor operations. - AMBER S. CLARK
  • Amber S. Clark
  • A graph to monitor operations.
Andrea Walker, right, and her mother, Karen Walker, owners and operators of Buddy's Place pet crematorium. - AMBER S. CLARK
  • Amber S. Clark
  • Andrea Walker, right, and her mother, Karen Walker, owners and operators of Buddy's Place pet crematorium.

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