Final Paws Pet Cemetery in Grand Junction offers comfort for mourning pet lovers
Final Paws owner/operator Teri Braxtan reads this poem by Richard Lockridge at grave-side services for cats.
“It was written in 1863,” she said.
Since she is mortal, as am I
My cat must also someday die.
But being flame while I am clod
It will be she who goes to God.
Go flickering up the golden flight
Slit-eyes undazzled by the light.
And pause before the golden chair
To lick the stardust from her hair.
Await afraid (yet without fear)
As goddess once, before her peer.
A gentle touch from hand divine
She’ll be God’s cat, as she was mine.
Final Paws Pet Cemetery isn’t just a final resting place for Grand Junction’s beloved animal population. It’s a vibrant home base for owner/operator Teri Braxtan, three dogs (Ted, Pete and P.B.), six cats, two turkeys (nicknamed The Romneys), and one good ol’ horse.
The country location at 2317 H Road also boasts wide-open views of the Bookcliffs, a groomed lawn dedicated to pet gravesites — many with inscribed markers and animal statues — and a crematory building out back.
According to Fruita resident Nettie Hale, Final Paws is a great service for the community because “Teri is here for anyone and everyone.” Hale’s black cocker spaniel named Molly was buried there a few years back after dying at age 14.
“She loved to travel,” Hale said. “She sat in my lap for thousands of miles.”
Final Paws became the best option for Molly when the Hale family knew their pet was dying.
“This way we know where Molly is and she’s never forgotten.” Hale said, while laying silk blooms on her doggy’s grave Wednesday morning. “We had a service out here for Molly in the cemetery, and Teri has lots of prayers for pets that she says. I visit and bring flowers.”
“The service Teri offers is so wonderful and affordable,” Hale continued. “She has a special heart for animals. She takes care of the cemetery. She’s a wonderful lady.”
Braxtan — a longtime, devoted animal lover, pet groomer and dog trainer from the Grand Junction area — began running Final Paws in 1996 “after lots of planning at the city and county level,” she said. “This is a dedicated site,” which will live on in perpetuity for Grand Valley residents.
“I started it because there weren’t a lot of options for animals when they died,” Braxtan added.
Now she offers cremation and burial options for any type of pet, from fish, parakeets and parrots, to cats, dogs, horses, pet rats, and even an old mountain lion, who was kept as a pet by a performer in Las Vegas, Braxtan said, and now rests under a gravestone at Final Paws labeled “Bouquet.”
The on-site crematory can handle a 200-plus pound dog, Braxtan noted, and the price for an animal cremation is based on size. She also provides basic urns and helps her clients through difficult times just as a mortuary does.
“We do graveside services where people like to talk about their pets,” she said. “I just try to help folks get through this. Grief comes in stages.”
Though there’s only about 45 pets interred in Final Paws Pet Cemetery (with room for more), Braxtan said she’s served hundreds of folks over the years with final plans for their deceased pets. Many folks scatter their ashes elsewhere, or have the pet’s ashes commingled with the owner’s ashes after they die.
Gravestones found at Final Paws generally come from Colorado River Stone & Granite in Yuma, Ariz., she noted, but markers may be provided from any outfitter a client prefers.
Want to learn more about Final Paws?
“Just call,” Braxtan said with a smile. Reach her at 970-242-7417.
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