FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Russell Mann started a new business five years ago to help people remember and cherish the great moments, the memories of their cats, dogs and various other family pets. Ponderosa Pet Crematory and Memorials marks its five-year anniversary of service in the region this month.
Ponderosa Pet Crematory is the only business of its kind in northern Arizona and is also the only full-service provider for pet owners in the region.
Mann reflected on some of the many stories about people and their pets from the past years.
He notes the numerous stories about what he calls "truck dogs."
"Truck dogs ride around in their owners' trucks," said Mann. "There was one truck dog a few years ago and I asked what made this dog so special. The dog's human companion told me, no, you don't understand - this dog never got out of the truck. So this dog still rides around in that truck, its ashes are in a special urn next to its dog bed in the back of that truck."
He also recalled recent assistance with a memorial for one very special dog.
"Last May there was a community memorial for a police dog, a German Shepherd, out of Payson," Mann said. "The dog's name was Kodiak Barr. He had 10 years of service to the community - I also wrote his obituary."
Another dog, a Dachshund, was a dog that went fishing.
"If he didn't get to go fishing at least once a week, there would be big trouble, commotion at that dog's house," recalls Mann. "So when the dog passed away, we made a special urn with his ashes that reads: 'Fear no Fish.'"
There was another Dachshund that was memorialized with its bed and its toys.
"I remember the toys in particular," said Mann. "There was a huge pile of them, maybe 40 toys. So I asked about this, what is the story with these toys? The dog's owner explained that this dog could recognize and differentiate between all these different toys. The owner would say, 'Go get your cow, or go get Big Bird' - and darn if that dog didn't always bring back that exact toy."
Ponderosa Pet Crematory and Memorials was not on Mann's radar as a business prior to starting it in 2008. "I was a professional foster parent working part time for Norvel and Clarice Owens," recalls Mann. "I got called into the office and they showed me an article and told me I needed to read it. It was an article about a new, emerging trend and the need for professionals to start providing final care for people's pets. I read the article and I knew I had to do it right. I started Ponderosa Pet Crematory within the month."
"I'm dedicated to providing reputable end-of-life care for my customers' pets throughout northern Arizona," said Mann. "Because I understand the emotional turmoil and the sorrow when one loses one of these remarkable family pets, I'm in business to help ensure this incredibly tough time is handled with compassion and dignity. I'm in business to assist my customers as they choose a fitting way to remember these inspiring animals that give so much, so many years of joy."
For the past five years he has been helping customers - on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week - with that final care and in arranging the best possible memorials to family pets. Ponderosa Pet Crematory provides removal service, urns and memorial markers, pet caskets and casketing service, viewings, and it offers advance plans for pet owners in communities throughout the region.
Ponderosa has provided final care for many different animals including birds, iguanas, ferrets, a goldfish and even a little donkey once - and cats and dogs, of course.
"I remember the very first dog I cremated," said Mann. "It was a Portuguese Water Dog - it looked like a very grand, majestic poodle - and its name was Beamer."
There was also the dog that was always on duty. It had so much work around its house out in the countryside. It patrolled the grounds, had a different special bark for both the UPS truck and the mailman, and it took care of the other dogs in the family.
"It was like the ranch manager - that wonderful animal was on duty to its very last moment. Then I helped the dog's human companion put together a fitting memorial for such a hard working, dedicated dog," said Mann.
Visit Ponderosa Pet Crematory and Memorials at ponderosapetcrematory.com or call Russell Mann at (928) 774-5669 or (800) 508-2456.