- Steff Boulton
Furever Yours: Pet Tattoos in the Public Eye
Sociologists Warnick and Toye, in 2016 wrote an article exploring the role memorial tattoos play in connecting us with the deceased stating:
‘Grief can often feel wordless - visual representations allow access to expression without need for words’.
For centuries we have taken to tattoos as a way of showing our undying love for partners, children, pets, tacos, etc. And celebrities are no different. From Jennifer Aniston to Joe Jonas, the biggest stars in the world are defying the pet death taboo and memorialising their furry friends on their skin.
[Joe Jonas - pet memorial tattoo of his Alaskan Klei Klai pup, Waldo Picasso]
For a celebrity, it is perhaps more of an impressive feat to commit to memorialising a pet in this way. (Am I saying these celebrities are death positive? Maybe!) The tattoo, unless in a hidden place, is likely to be papped as they get papped and may even make its way onto the cover of a magazine....
[Left to Right: Miley Cyrus on the cover of Rolling Stone, 2021 ft. her dog Mary Jane on her forearm and P!nk on the cover of Cosmopolitan, 2010 ft. her childhood bulldog, Sir Corky Moore]
And you can bet your bottom dollar they’re going to be asked about it during interviews! Take Jennifer Aniston for example, a dog lover in the truest sense of the term. When her sweetheart Welsh terrier, Norman, passed away, she decided to get his name inked in romantic cursive on the inside of her foot - similar to something you might get for a spouse or child. The press soon after began zooming in on her feet in strappy sandals on red carpets and asking the big question: WHO IS JEN’S NEW MYSTERY MAN NORMAN?!
[Jennifer Aniston - pet memorial tattoo for her Welsh terrier, Norman]
A new tattoo in a conspicuous place is bound to elicit conversation and it can be a therapeutic way for the bereaved to open up more regular conversations about grief, keeping the loved ones not just physically present on their skin but conversationally present as the years go by.
The therapeutic nature of pet memorial tattoos is best seen in incidents where the pet has died in a tragic way. A recent example of this is when Orlando Bloom's dog, Mighty, was presumed dead after going missing for 7 days. After exhausting himself trying to find Mighty, Bloom found peace in memorialising him on his skin to be with him always.
[Orlando Bloom - pet memorial tattoo for his teacup poodle, Mighty]
Another example is Demi Lovato's memorial tattoo for her maltipoo, Buddy, who died aged just 2 years old after being attacked by a coyote in her back garden. In tragic times like these a pet memorial tattoo can provide closure for the bereaved and exonerate the individual's guilt surrounding their pet's passing.
[Demi Lovato, pet memorial tattoo for her maltipoo, Buddy]
I think one thing that is interesting about pet memorial tattoos specifically, is that they are attached to the concept of unconditional love - unlike many other memorial tattoos. Although mourning a pet is still generally considered a bit strange and a 'lesser' type of loss, the unconditional love of a pet may make getting a tattoo in honour of them easier than that of say a lover....all I'm saying is that laser removal is unlikely to be an issue later down the line (I'm looking at you Johnny Depp #winoforever)
[Miley Cyrus - pet memorial tattoo for her blowfish, Pablow The Blowfish]
In an age where memories are often digital and social media memorial posts are all the rage, there is something quite bold and admirable about these celebrities choosing to memorialise something in an analog fashion that is not just for their followers but something for themselves. Because being famous may absolve you from a lot of things but it doesn't absolve you from grief.
Suggested Reading: 'Skin, Meaning and Symbolism in Pet Memorials: Tattoos, Taxidermy & Trinkets' by Rachael Harris