Your pet’s last days – advice to help you plan. professional pet portraits and pet cremation

Your pet’s last days – planning for those special, lasting memories with Nic Bisseker Photography and Barnshaw Pet Crematorium – Kent & East Sussex


nic bisseker photography photographer west sussex


“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.  When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together…..All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour…..just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.”


Dog photography West Sussex

If you are fearful the end may be near for your pet, I offer you all the love in the world. Until the time comes that we can meet our beloved pet to cross the Bridge together, we are faced with knowing that in a short while we will be without them. 

Nic Bisseker Photography Dog photoshoot East Grinstead fathers day

Nobody wants to face this moment and there is nothing we can do to change it, but we can pay tribute to our pets in a meaningful and respectful way by planning a little ahead.  It may just help to ease some of the pain for us and celebrate our special lives together.

Nic Bisseker Photography Dog photographer  East Grinstead old dog portraits



Nic Bisseker prints East Grinstead

I offer special “Last Days” Pet Photography Sessions for animal owners facing the the news that they will not have more than a few days left with their animals.  They are short and sensitive and can take place in your garden if need be, or a local walk.   They are just long enough to capture their last moments with you and ensure you have some images to treasure forever.

Nic Bisseker Photography dog photographer West sussex

“When tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart.  For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.”


Professional memories are worth their weight in gold – don’t let it be too late.



It is not often something we think about with regards to our animals, like we would planning a service or funeral for us hoomans.  My experience has always been that the vets mention it quickly and your beloved pet is shipped away and you hear nothing until receiving a box in the post a few weeks later.

It has always seemed like a rather abrupt end and I have not liked to not be involved.  Of course this was never forced on us, but without some planning where would you start faced with the news that your pet needs to be put to sleep in the next couple of days?

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Barnshaw Pet Crematorium based in Tenterden. They are not linked with any vets who tend to use the larger more commercial crematoriums who collect from the vets perhaps on a weekly basis.

They of course also collect from vets, but the really special thing about Barnshaw is that it is family owned and operated by just husband and wife which creates such an opportunity for you to feel closer to your pet in those last days and thereafter.

Di and her husband Chris started Barnshaw so they were able to balance looking after their special needs daughter, and also have a rewarding occupation that could be run from their home. The property has been in the family since 1976 and they have lived there since 2004.   As they are no longer slaves to the working week, they are able to offer a service seven days a week with a speed of service not often matched by larger operations. They are proud to be an independent crematorium, able to provide a personal service, often in a very much more timely manner than larger operations can accommodate. They love meeting people and hearing about the often-unique experiences they have had with their pet.

“The worst thing about losing your dog is not having someone to lick away the tears”


Where to start – burial or cremation?


Barnshaw encourage families to consider their options in advance. There are so many factors to combine into this decision and a little planning may help avoid making a regretful decision made whilst upset.

For those settled in their own property, who have the space and physical ability, burial may be the preferred option. Cremation (as with humans) gives a little more flexibility and is possibly less onerous.

Barnshaw naturally believe cremation is right for many, but will gladly assist others to make the right decision for themselves. They are happy for people to give them a call or make an appointment to drop in so that they can do their best to help.  I think we would all agree that we want the process to be respectful whichever we choose.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains un-awakened.” Anatole France



How do Barnshaw make the process dignified for your pets and can you as owner be involved?


All pets are carefully placed in the cremator, natural bedding, toys, notes of remembrance etc can be left to be cremated with the animal. For super-sized pets they have additional lifting equipment to ensure pets are handled correctly.

The delivery area and crematorium is covered by CCTV as a reassurance to customers that they only provide top quality care.

They have a garden of remembrance where families can have a few quiet minutes before leaving their pet with them. The garden can be used for spreading ashes if the client doesn’t have a suitable area themselves.

The detail


Barnshaw offer a collection service within a 15-mile radius from Tenterden which is included in the cremation cost. Thereafter there is a small charge per mile travelled outside of the 15-mile radius. Some people prefer to bring their pet directly to the crematorium, others prefer for them to have their animal collected from their home. They also meet people at their vets and bring pets to their crematorium after they have been euthanised.


Whenever possible they aim to have ashes ready on the same or following day.  As they cremate so quickly,  they do not need to refrigerate pets.

In their experience, and given the choice, many people want their pet back home with them as quickly as possible. If people need more time, they can store the ashes for up to thirty days. Where possible they store the ashes in their own house to keep them safe.

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Families can choose from different options for their pet’s ashes: 

  • All of the ashes in a scatter tube or a biodegradable pouch which is suitable for burial. Many people like to bury the pouch of ashes in a plant pot.
  • All of the ashes in a casket (of which there are many choices)
  • The majority of ashes in a scatter tube or pouch and a small amount of ashes kept in a tribute keepsake

tribute frame for pet cremation with professional dog portrait

Their laser engraving is very popular and really personalises keepsakes and photographs can be used in the keepsake.

Nic Bisseker photography pet photographer West Sussex last days portraits

Barnshaw aim to make a terribly sad time as easy as they can for people. They like to keep in touch, letting people know when the process is completed, even if they won’t be collecting ashes for a few days. A quick text can be enormously comforting.


A pet is never truly forgotten until it is no longer remembered.” Lacie Petitt


Barnshaw can be found at They rely heavily on recommendations which are at the very heart of everything they do and they of course welcome feedback so they can continue to improve the service they provide.

pet cremations

For more information on my Last Days Pet Photography Sessions please go to my dog page or if you’d like a chat do get in touch here.

We also both can be found on Facebook and Instagram.

Nic is a multi-award winning, fully qualified portrait photographer with the Master Photography Association and her qualification dog images won the best Licentiate panel in the UK for 2020.(MPA)