Pet Cemetery in Ortonville Gives “Your Best Friend” a Place to be Remembered
(Lara Mossa, Crystal A. Proxmire, June 23, 2019)
Ortonville, MI –“A bundle of happiness with four paws and a tail has quietly left you behind. But sweetness stays close in memories shared with the best friend a person could find.”
The poem graces the Wall of Memories in Your Best Friend Pet Memorial Park, a pet cemetery located at 2275 S. Ortonville Road (M-15) between Clarkston and Ortonville in NE Oakland County. Founded in 1962, Your Best Friend Pet Memorial Park has space for 10,000 animals, with about 3,800 buried there so far.
The decorated resting place for pets was created by the Craft family, who wanted to use their five acres on a busy road for a purpose rooted in kindness and compassion.
“I grew up in it,” said owner DC Craft of Commerce Township. “It’s been part of my life forever. It’s the family business. It’s what we do. It’s a service that’s needed. I’ve met some really nice people with the business.”
His father, Glenn Harvey Craft, 88, lives at the cemetery and still helps with the company. Wife Karen is honored in the middle of the cemetery, with a plaque remembering her love of animals and her passion for starting the memorial. Glenn’s experience in the human funeral business, and Kathy’s passion for animals made the space a perfect family project, and a way to open their home to the love of so many families.
During the last 10 years, ownership of the business has been transitioned to DC Craft, who said his son, Quentin Craft, 14, also is involved.
Everything from cats and parrots to boa constrictors, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, police dogs and leader dogs are buried there. The park cannot accommodate horses, but has buried the remains of horses.
Plots do not need to be bought ahead of time. The park provides time of need service. In the summer, pets are buried later that day or the next day. During the winter, the animals are stored and buried in the spring. The company does not do cremations but can bury cremated remains.
Burials start at $250 for small dogs and range up to $800 or $900. The charges include pine box or vault casket options. In addition, the cemetery leaves spaces around the animal for future pets. Some of the burials have included two or three generations of families.
Craft can do memorial services as well, which include prayers, honoring the first shovel of dirt and applying flowers when the grave is closed. Some people like to be present; others do not, he said. He has seen families visit on a weekly or annual basis.
“It means everything to them,” he said. “It’s an eternal resting place for their companion – their best friend. They’re not disposed of. They’re not thrown in the trash. They’re respected. They’re part of the family.”
Many of the graves share stories, like Principessa Uccello di Sole Sotheby Brown, aka “Princess Ucci,” a bird who passed away on Nov. 14, 2006.
“Sweet gentle Ucci who loved everyone and was loved by all, you were God’s precious gift for 14 years. So many memories,” wrote Ucci’s “human Mommy Suzanne” on the headstone. “Your darling attempts at talking and mimicking Stevie Wonder and Charlie, your love of grapes and nuts, of kisses and grooming, and sitting on shoulders to introduce cheek to cheek caresses.”
Peaches, a doggie who died in 2005, was remembered for “playing with dolly and soccer-ball,” “guarding your toys from Jessee,” and “opening presents at Christmas.”
Craft said he enjoys giving people peace of mind.
”It’s a sad time when you lose your companion,” he added. “It’s also nice knowing we can provide this for them. There’s some satisfaction involved with knowing we can do this for the families.”
Entrepreneurship runs in the family. Glenn Harvey Craft grew up with the business Waterford Hill Florist and Greenhouses before starting the cemetery. DC Craft also owns Waterford Lanes.
Cremations have become more popular in the last 15 years – a trend that is true for humans too – but the success of the business depends on the economy.
“Every year is different,” Craft said. “If the economy is bad it’s worse. If the economy is good, it would be better.”
For more information on Your Best Friend, go to the website www.ybfpmp.com.