In mid-September of this year, I was searching the online photographic collections of the Library of Congress. Ever hopeful of finding historical images of Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, I came across this shot of a grave stone for a pet named “Miss Fudge.” The title of the photograph was “Dog cemetery, Miss Logan’s dog.” It was taken around 1921.
Suspecting that this might have been taken at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, I checked the burial records. Sure enough, on the very first page of the oldest burial register, there was an entry for a Mrs. Logan, who buried a fox terrier there on September 15, 1920. There was even a little sketch of the grave stone in the register, which matched the one in the photograph.
However, in all the years that I have roamed the pet cemetery, I have never seen such a stone. With such a distinctive shape — a rough hewn chunk of granite — it is one I’m quite sure I would have remembered, if I’d ever seen it.
Soon after discovering the photograph, I returned to the cemetery to see if I could find the memorial to Miss Fudge. I knew the general area of where the earliest burials took place, in the southwestern corner of the cemetery. It’s a mostly grassy area with few stones. Along the fence, there are stumps, a fallen tree, and a tangle of thorny vines. I peered into this area, afraid to enter, and not seeing much of interest.
Cemetery historians and preservationists will tell you that the best time to explore a cemetery is in the early spring or late fall, when most of the foliage is gone from the trees and shrubs. That’s why in late October, I happened to look again into that scary corner of the cemetery, and saw a jagged piece of gray rock poking up through the briers. Could it be what I was looking for? I ran back to my car where I had a few of my gardening tools. I grabbed a pair of gloves and my pruning shears and returned to the stone. I only cut enough vines to allow myself access to where the stone was, and to take a photograph.
Sure enough, when I got close enough to be able to read the inscription, I saw the words “Miss Fudge.” Unfortunately, the stone has sunken into the ground so far than you can’t see the rest of the inscription, which is visible in the 1921 photograph: “We loved you little dog.” It wasn’t possible for me to dig the stone without compromising the site, including other grave stones of historical significance. Some things are better left to the professionals, such as archaeologists or trained cemetery workers.
I am pleased to know that more than just finding Miss Fudge, I have pinpointed exactly where the first burials in the cemetery are. Someday, I hope that this area can be restored, adding to the historical knowledge of the cemetery.