Christa Ackroyd: Why Jennifer Aniston’s pet funeral made me feel queezy

Jennifer Aniston . (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
Jennifer Aniston . (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
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Among the ‘news’ stories that sneaked in between Bojo, Brexit, Love Island and Meghan’s guest editing of the world’s poshest magazine this week was one that made me feel positively queasy. And just about sums up the strange world we now live in.

Jennifer Aniston and her ex husband Justin Theroux let bygones be bygones and came together for a funeral.

Which was lovely. They walked shoulder to shoulder to the ceremony which was attended by friends of the departed who burnt sage in a “powerful” ritual.

Their friend, Dolly, was covered with scattered brightly coloured petals as the couple grasped at each other’s hands over the body, which rather unusually these days was in full view of the mourners.

It was “tragic” said one newspaper. It was “awful” said one Instagram commentator who added it was also “beautiful” they could be “there for each other in grief”.

At sunset Dolly A. (presumably A for Aniston) had, according to Justin, “laid down her sword and shield ..surrounded by her entire family.”

And posted on social media were the pictures to prove it.

Only Dolly was a dog. A much loved dog I am sure, but a dog none the less and one who by my reckoning was at least 13 years old, which for a German Shepherd is a pretty good age.

Before I go on like some heartless, emotionless, pet hater I am far from it. We have always had dogs. Still have. In fact we have always had German Shepherds.

And yes they are loyal and loving companions, whose huge presence is missed when they leave us for that big kennel in the sky. In fact it is one of the few times I have seen my husband weep.

But a publicly recorded, incense-laden, funeral among family and friends with beloved pet on show? I think not.

We have also lost cats, horses, hamsters and numerous fish. Awful. I never want to witness again my then 15 year old daughter’s agony when her precious pony fell and broke his leg in the field.

He couldn’t be saved. To see her having sobbed herself to sleep surrounded by his photographs and rosettes truly awful.

But he was a much loved pet whose death led to one of the most bizarre moments of my life, though not quite as bizarre as gazing at the pictures posted by Jennifer or Justin of their companion wrapped in a white woollen blanket, their hands entwined above her at her “spiritual” send off.

Two months before my father had died I went to collect his ashes and also on the same day the ashes of the aforementioned beloved pony.

In the boot of my car was a grey plastic lollypop jar with a name written on a strip of Elastoplast. Beside it was a beautiful oak casket with a brass plaque bearing another name, yes you’ve guessed it, that of the pony.

Neither had been requested or a choice offered.

But Freddy Fox was invited to go riding through the stars while Dad was labelled Ackroyd.

And it felt wrong, so wrong, although Dad would have seen the black humour in the situation.

The truth is, we seem to care more about animals than we do people.

If not, perhaps you can 
explain why donkeys are left more money than war heroes and the RSPCA has often more money bequeathed to them than the 
NSPCC and Barnardo’s put 
together.

Don’t get me wrong I have held ‘funerals’ for hamsters in shoeboxes, buried cats in the garden under little piles of pebbles and scattered ashes on favourite pastures and country walks.

Among the photographs throughout my house are many of assorted dear departed pets. I am not without feelings and I know for many animals are a lifeline.

But there is a limit surely, especially when an animal has a life well lived and a life well loved.

As for fund-raising cruelty to animals is appalling. They cannot explain their 
suffering. But neither can an abused child, a vulnerable old person, or a war veteran with mental health issues.

The love of a pet is precious but should never supersede the love of a person.

I await your angry comments, knowing I will always believe that when it does the world truly has gone mad.