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Pet Cemetery, 1920s–40s

Out on Henno Road, in the shade of oak and madrone trees on the hillside past junked cars and rusting farm equipment, is a lovely little pet cemetery. It is old. Grass and lichen overgrow the brick crematorium where a hand-hewn sign announces its purpose.

Dr. Henno was a Glen Ellen veterinarian who owned a large portion of the hillside and cared for many pets of San Francisco high society. When these pets died, their owners paid elaborate amounts to have their furry companions cremated in the little brick crematorium under the oaks and buried on the hillside. According to “Childhood Memories of Glen Ellen” by Bob Glotzbach, dog caskets arrived by steam train at Warfield Station from San Francisco in black and silver coffins, where they were picked up in a little hearse by Dr. Henno and transported to his crematory and burial ground at the end of Henno Road.

There are about 50 graves, some just piles of moss-covered stones, others elaborate cement slabs with marble headstones. One features a black and white photo of a dog encased in an oval plastic bubble.

Our darling Tippy is here, and “Peewee Mulvaney, Our Pal,” and Scotty, and “Teddy, Our Faithful Friend” — all loved and remembered. Jiggs, 1922–1928. Busybody. Punch, 1921–1940.

Bebe’s owner was a poet, who wrote for her darling:

“God surely loved Man / For he loaned us thee.”

And the simple ones: “RexGone 1936”“Zarry Brave. Proud. Loyal.”“Pepita Honey SweetWe love you In God’s care. 1932-1945”

Even the politics of the time are reflected here. Barney’s stone reads:

“This little fellow never refused to sign a Loyalty Oath.”

A World War II German shepherd “Hero Dog” is also buried here. Hero dogs were the magnificent shepherds trained to sniff out firearms or enemies, or haul a soldier to safety. For years there was a German pike helmet perched on top of the shepherd’s headstone, but it is gone now.

In the 1930s, there was some controversy about this cemetery among the local residents. During the Depression, locals were mostly subsisting on what they raised themselves. Here, in the middle of this hunger and humiliation, the very rich of San Francisco would spend $1,000 on a pet’s funeral and cremation in a black and silver casket, while neighbors down the dusty road were struggling.

It is a private place that is not easy to find and not open to the public. It was also hit hard by the 2017 fires. Now, on a foggy and wet afternoon, one sees only stones here and there. But these animals were family to someone and won’t be easily forgotten.