When Ruth dies, she wants her remains buried alongside her beloved Boy. Boy, who died of a heart attack in May in her arms, is buried under a simple bronze marker in a forested Jessup cemetery.
His grave is one of 8,000 for pets in the Bonheur Memorial Park pet Cemetery and that, according to Ruth, "is where I'd choose to be, with Boy."
The desire of Ruth-not her real name - to have her ashes placed in the same plot with the remains of her brownish-black mixed-breed dog is not the first such request Bonheur president William A. Green has heard.
In fact, the ashes of several pet lovers already are interred in the tiny satin-lined caskets in Bonheur's plots.
Now Green is making plans to bury human remains in what he calls "the conventional way, in caskets" at the 11-acre cemetery. He says several people have expressed interest in the new service.
"I'm very much concerned that any publicity about it is done tastefully," he told a reporter yesterday with a shake of his head.
"This is not a joke. It's very serious and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect."
A Bonheur pet burial, complete with casket, concrete vaulting, plot and grave opening and closing starts at about $250, according to Green. But it can run up to $1,500 if a pet owner chooses a "top-of-the-line" casket and a large bronze market adorned with his pet's porcelain portrait, Green says.
Green says he will not try to compete with morticians by selling caskets for humans, but will sell plots for $240 and charge another $220 for opening and closing the grave.
Bonheur is now the kind of place where parakeets, white mice, cats, monkeys and dogs with names like Skippy and those with titles like Baron Von Lahn Lumpe are buried side by side. It will not be any different for humans, Green vows. People will get plots in whatever areas are available and the Triangle Section, the most sought-after area because of its gardens, will not be open to them. It is already too full. Green explains.
Despite all his carefully laid plans, Green is already facing one possible roadblock.
One Howard County official, in response to a letter of intent Green sent him, stated that he cannot proceed without a special zoning permit. Another official from the same office wrote back, saying it was all right to go ahead. Green says he will deal "with that red tape" soon.
Meanwhile, he has been visited by a mausoleum maker from Louisiana who offered to build him the world's first crypt to accommodate an owner and his pets.
And he is getting phone calls with requests for gravesites.
"It doesn't matter what it costs," Green quoted one caller as saying. "I just want to buried next to my cats." CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, By LaMouche for The Washington Post; Picture, Cemetery president William A. Green kneels at elaborately decorated pet grave. By Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post