Bill McKinley said losing his dog, Cody, was the toughest moment of his life.
So when Cody, a black Lab, lost a yearlong 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, of 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.
“It's kind of a first-of-its-kind thing,” he said.
Dave McComb, owner of D.O. McComb, did not return a call seeking comment before deadline Thursday morning.
A dog named Emma, who died in September, is listed on D.O. McComb's website as the first pet entrusted to the funeral home's care. Cody is the only other pet listed on the funeral home's website, and the only one with a full funeral listing.
“He had just such a great personality,” McKinley said of Cody, who also has a brother named Max. McKinley said he brought his dogs to work every day, a practice that is encouraged at American Heritage Trails. After the funeral, McKinley said, he will take Cody's remains home with him in a special dog casket.
“He's one of those dogs you just couldn't help but love,” McKinley said. “We just wanted to do something really special for him.”