We all want to memorialize our loved ones when they pass away, including loved ones who walk on four legs. Now, a Dobbs Ferry business provides that chance.
Edwards-Dowdle Funeral Home recently began services to give pets a caring, fitting farewell, as well as a way to always remember them. These services aren’t only unique to the area: “I don’t believe they exist anywhere in the pet or the funeral business,” said Joe Casario, owner of Edwards-Dowdle.
The process begins with putting the pet to sleep at your home, for which Edwards-Dowdle partners with a local veterinarian. The pet is “in his favorite place, in a blanket, in your hands. The vet gives him a shot, he passes, and we’re there to take the dog with us,” said Casario. “We have the proper equipment we use exclusively for pets to do the transportation. In fact, we have a separate line of everything, including vehicles. We take the pet directly to a new crematory in Yorktown and have the ashes returned to us immediately.”
The owner then receives the ashes in a special urn with a card, a clay paw print, and fur clippings. Other services can be arranged, too. For instance, if an animal is killed unexpectedly in an accident, Edwards-Dowdle can set up a viewing before the pet is cremated.
The program began quietly last year with the first unofficial announcement coming in the form of a Facebook post that quickly gained local attention due to its touching background story: A week to the day after his owner passed away, so did a Rottweiler, and Edwards-Dowdle handled the arrangements.
The funeral business has long been known as a family business, and Edwards-Dowdle is no different. Bertsil Edwards opened the funeral home in its current location on Ashford Avenue in 1927, and it remained in the Edwards family until 1985. An employee and family friend, Jim Dowdle, became owner in 2000, and his good friend and funeral director Joe Casario took over the reins in 2016 with Dowdle staying on as a consultant. Joe is himself a third generation funeral director with his roots going back to his grandfather’s business in the Bronx, and his sister/fellow funeral director Liz also works at Edwards-Dowdle. In fact, Joe is quick to give Liz credit for the pet services.
Liz’s love of dogs goes back to childhood, and she’s been active in improving animal lives ever since. She rescues and fosters dogs and raises money throughout the community for animals with the help of her artist daughter. After Hurricane Harvey left many pets without food or homes, Liz started a food and supply drive, and the family hired a truck to deliver the community donations all the way to Texas.
But the desire to provide pet memorial services dates back to a specific childhood memory. “When my own dog passed, that was it. I was about 11 or 12 years old,” Liz said. “I was hysterical. It burned a memory in my brain that I will never forget and I never want anyone to go through. I saw him on a stainless steel table. I took his collar and left without him. I never got a chance to say goodbye.”
Her experience is not unique. More often than not, we don’t get a chance for a meaningful goodbye to our pets. Edwards-Dowdle Funeral Home looks to change that.