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Memorial Ornament from the Copper Poppy

Forever in Ornaments: A Tribute to My Beloved Heart Dog

The holidays are hard after loss. I’d like to say they get easier as time goes by, but I haven’t felt that yet. It’s been 16 months since I said goodbye to my heart dog, Kota, and it still feels like yesterday she was with me. I can’t even tell you the number of times I mistakenly call our current pup, Halo, “Kota”.

Last December I decided that every year I would have an ornament made that would memorialize and honor Kota in some way. This is now my tradition. Depending on how long I live, I may soon have an entire tree dedicated to Kota!

Significance of Memorial Ornaments

While Kota was living, I did an ornament with her photo every year. Why should that stop? I may not have the current photos, but there are many ways we can memorialize our lost pets with a special ornament.

Last year I struggled with putting a picture of Kota on our holiday card. I remember Beth Bigler of Honoring our Animals saying to me, “Why wouldn’t you put a picture of Kota on your card? You do what feels best for you.”

We all need to remember that. We all have our own journey when grieving and we have to remember to do what works best for us.

This may have been my favorite holiday card ever. The barred owls are significant to me as Kota used to howl with them. Every time I hear an owl, I think of Kota.

holiday card memorializing lost dog
2022 In Memory of Kota

The First Year

Last year, 4 months after the loss of Kota, I took one of my favorite snow images of Kota to have made into this hammered bronze ornament. Kota LOVED the snow and it was a perfect way to honor her.

When I unwrapped it from the tissue paper this year, the tears appeared. They were tears of comfort and seeing this ornament a year later helped bring me some peace.

Honoring a lost pet at Christmas
2022 Kota Ornament

Meaning and Symbolism

This year the ornament is all about meaning and symbolism. I found an amazing company out of New Hampshire called The Copper Poppy. They have been doing a beautiful job with Halo’s (our current rescued pooch) custom dog tags – stunning designs with crystal gemstones.

I decided to have them do Kota’s memorial ornament this year. The crystals I had them use were fore Pete’s birthday in December, my birthday in February, Kota’s adoptaversary in April and Halo’s adoptaversary in December.

It had to be snowflake because… well… SNOW!

They added the little paw – so good!

Yes, when I opened this I cried! Happy tears, of course. It could not be more perfect!

Memorial Ornament from the Copper Poppy
Kota Love Forever 2023

DIY Ornament Ideas

Are you thinking about memorializing a lost pet of yours with an ornament?

There are so many ways you can do this!

Go through old photos and print them and hang them from pretty ribbons. YES print them! It doesn’t matter if they are on your cell phone. Get them off of there and print them so you can look at them.

Do you have a favorite poem or quote that makes you think of your dog that you miss so much? Have it made into an ornament. Cardstock and ribbon. A pretty colored marker to write with.

The Healing Journey

Like I mentioned above, our grief is a journey and it’s different for all of us. Creating ornaments has been a therapeutic way for me to remember and celebrate Kota’s life.

Does creating ornaments resonate with you and your journey? Try it. Talk about it. Share the memories and tell your pet’s stories. Do what works for you!


Are you in the midst of dealing with the loss of a pet or may you are in the anticipatory grief stage?  One Last Network is a podcast that connects pet owners to the services and support they may need as their pets age and ultimately cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Enjoy your Christmas and Holiday Season! Wishing you joyful and cozy season! xo Darlene

7 thoughts on “Forever in Ornaments: A Tribute to My Beloved Heart Dog”

  1. Memorial pet ornaments are a wonderful way to help us humans in our grief and healing journey after losing one of our furkids. These ornament remembrances are lovely. We too have pet ornaments surrounding our tree. Thanks for the links.

  2. I wrote something about Shep yesterday and I bawled my eyes out. Like, ugly cried to the point where I was eating my own snot. The grief for the dogs who change us never really goes away. Over time, it softens a bit and we can find times to choose to grieve. I will miss him for forever and a day just I know you will miss Kota for forever and a day. That you create memorial pet ornaments for Kota is something truly special. I have found a company called Conversation Concepts and I have almost the entire collection of ornaments that look like Bella and Shep. My tree is dedicated to them too. I love you much and I hope you, Pete and Halo have the most wonderful of Christmases, holding onto Kota’s memory and keeping her story alive.

  3. What a special tradition! I love that there are so many creative options for memorializing your pet, including memorial pet ornaments. And I definitely think you should create an entire ‘Kota’ tree.

    Losing a pet is so difficult, and the holidays are often one of the hardest times to get through after. I’m so glad you’re sharing your pet loss journey – hopefully it’s helping both you and others in their grief journey.

  4. Memorial pet ornaments are a great way to remember the wonderful times you had with your pet. We enjoy placing the ornaments on the tree & the stockings on the mantel with their names embroidered on them. They will always be part of the family. It’s great that you remember Kota the way you do. They say it will get easier as time passes but in reality it will always be with you.

  5. What a beautiful tradition to honor Kota and the bond you shared. I might need to start the tradition of creating pet memorial ornaments every year. Thank you for sharing.

  6. The snowflake pet memorial ornament is so fitting for Kota. I love that you continue the tradition of getting Kota an ornament. I adore the card you made last year as well. Enjoy your holiday.

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