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Ben Fogle scatters his pet’s ashes

Ben Fogel and Inca

A month later on and he told Telegraph readers that her bowl was still in the kitchen. Her beds were still there, scattered about the house so her old legs never had far to walk.

“They are little reminders of a little black dog who infiltrated my whole life, who showed undiluted loyalty, who brought such happiness,” he says. “I can’t bring myself to move them.”

A nation of animal lovers

He was surprised by the amount of letters he received after writing about Inca’s death. He was also approached by people on the street, “Big tough London cabbies, telling of their own bereavement and the tears they shed. In a way, it makes me proud to be British. We really are a nation of animal lovers.”

Bruce Fogle, Ben’s father and a practising vet for 42 years and chairman of the board of the Humane Society International, edited the textbook Interrelations Between People and Pets and wrote the chapter “Attachment – Euthanasia – Grieving”. He was the one who put Inca to sleep in the family kitchen.

“The dog is a complete innocent, never hiding its emotions, never lying. This is why the grief can be so great. It can be greatly complicated if people feel guilty about experiencing such intense emotion over their dog”.

Having to put a loved pet to sleep is such a difficult decision and can also cause a huge amount of guilt. Inca was suffering from epilepsy, her back legs were collapsing and she was struggling to move. I found it very comforting to hear that Inca spent her last few days at Bovey Castle in Dartmoor, just up the road from where we are based, even in her last days Ben tried to create happy memories with her.

Scattering Inca’s Ashes

In July 2013, a year after her death Ben wrote movingly again about the time being right to scatter his beloved pets ashes.

Marina, the children and I were accompanied by Mum, Dad and my sister Tamara, with the family dogs, Luca, Lola, Marni and Maggi. We were also joined by Sam the dog walker, who is a type of dog whisperer – all dogs love her – who assembled a dozen of Inca’s canine friends around the tree.

Hyde Park has played such an important part in my life. It is my place to escape from the city’s hubbub, but more importantly it is where I met Marina, thanks to Inca and her dog Maggi. The little tree is almost on the spot where we first met.

My mother had brought a bottle of champagne for us and a big bag of Bonios for the dogs. The children wandered through the long grass as I scattered Inca’s ashes. In place of flowers, we left a Bonio high up in one of the branches.

It was a simple ceremony, but one full of happiness. I think a psychologist would describe it as “closure”. I hate the thought that her name will slip from memory and her tree ensures a form of longevity. To the hundreds of people who walk past it each day it is just another sapling, but to us, it is Inca’s tree. Ludo and Iona say “Hello, Inca” each time we pass it.

Having a ceremony and making a pet memorial is such an important way to express your emotions and help you come to terms with the loss of your pet, as Ben so brilliantly puts it “Grief is the price we pay for love”.

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