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Opening Arguments

Good grief

What do you think, is this self-indulgent, sentimental twaddle or an uplifting story obout dealing with grief?

Bill McKinley said losing his dog, Cody, was the toughest moment of his life.

So when Cody, a black Lab, lost a year-long battle with kidney disease on Tuesday, McKinley, co-founder of the American Heritage Trails charter bus company in Fort Wayne, started planning a full “doggy funeral” to honor his faithful companion of eight years.

“It's been a tough time for us, but that's why we're doing the funeral,” said McKinley, or LaOtto. “This has been really hard on me, so I'm hoping this helps me work through the grieving process.”

McKinley arranged a memorial service with the new D.O. McComb & Sons Tribute Center at 2307 W. Main St. and even paid to have an obituary printed in both Fort Wayne newspapers – both of which are firsts, he said.

D.O. McComb recently started a Pet Services division that specializes in memorials and cremations for animals. But the funeral home has never arranged a service as extensive as Cody's – which will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the tribute center – McKinley said.

I'm inclined to the former, though I certainly understand the feeling of loss when pets die. At some point, they become not just "animal companions," but members of the family. But treating them to rituals normally reserved for people -- like dressing them up or subjecting them to "therapy" -- is to diminish our view of humanity. If losing Cody was truly the toughest moment  of McKinley's life, I'd say he'd never lost a person close to him or else his priorities are in need of serious re-examination.

And it's just plain creepy for a funeral home to jump into the "pet grief" business. And obits, for goodness sake?

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