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Raleigh newspaper notes a trend: obituaries that mention the deceased's pet

January 17, 2009 |  6:23 pm

Leona Helmsley and her dog, Trouble A North Carolina newspaper, the Raleigh News & Observer, recently reported that a quarter of all obituaries they received in a day included pets among listings of surviving relatives:

When Anna Ruth Jones died in Durham last week, her obituary listed a handful of cousins and special friends. But the most prominent survivor -- the only one described as "cherished" -- was Sir Rufus of Iredell, her black-and-white cat.

The feline's elevation to grieving relative status represents a new step for household pets across the state: special mentions in notices of their owners' passing.

On a single day last week, dogs and cats merited a spot in five News & Observer obituaries, more than a quarter of that day's total. Buzzy the canine pal. Beloved dog Sport. Simba. Trixie. Mikey. And Sir Rufus.

Oddly, the New York Times obituary for "the Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley did not list her dog, Trouble (to whom she famously willed $12 million), among her surviving relatives.  That aside, we can't help but be mystified by this apparent trend.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Helmsley with Trouble, circa 2003.

Credit: Jennifer Graylock / Associated Press.

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