Before Shelia Stadler, 68, lost her fight with cancer, she made the unusual decision to have her beloved guide dog, Toffee, euthanized and buried with her. Stadler also had the five-year-old canine placed at the foot of her coffin and displayed at her funeral.
According to WTHI News 10, Stadler's request surprised funeral attendees and raised eyebrows within the community, though the practice isn't illegal.
Gregory Reilly, of Honey Creek Animal Hospital, called the move "unusual in some aspects."
"It just really depends on what the family wants to do with the dog," he said. "Legally they can do whatever they want."
Stadler's son, Andy, said that Toffee "wandered aimlessly" in the days after his owner died and before he was euthanized.
"I wouldn't say that's unusual for a dog to be in mourning, especially if a dog is really close to a person," said Gregory Reilly, with Honey Creek Animal Hospital.
NBC News reported in 2010 that the practice of euthanizing and burying dogs with their owners isn't as rare as you might think. One man, Donald Ellis, asked his family to euthanize his 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Tom Tom, when he died.
“Tom Tom was grieving for my brother,” his sister said of the dog. “They were very close. I’ve gotten a lot of grief for doing this, but it’s what my brother wanted.”