Again, I’m so sorry, Whammo. Unfortunately we’ve had much experience in this area, as our “puppy graveyard” on the hill in our back woods attests. (Actually, it’s a peaceful place, and we imagine the shades of our friends frolicking up there . . .)
Those who are buried underground were always wrapped in a soft piece of my husband’s clothing, such as a sweatshirt. I believe he also used the patio block technique as protection from digging. 3-month old kitten Phil is buried at the edge of our sandpit under about a dozen patio blocks at the surface, and he is undisturbed after 2 years. (Hubby just wandered in, and he said Phil is only about 6 inches down. He also agrees with the consensus so far, from his own sadly vast experience, that 2 feet is plenty.) Benji died when the ground was frozen, so he rests under a rather unique tomb made of large rocks, about 2 feet high.
Someone mentioned the possibility of cremation, which we chose for Miss Emily, who was after all our best beloved. If you go this route, Whammo, be absolutely sure to check (or have someone else check for you - perhaps better) that both you and Max’s remains will be treated as respectfully as if a human had died. Unfortunately, our experience was horrid due to deliberate cruelty toward us by the pet crematory staff. But later we dealt with another (human) crematory when finding a permanent urn for her ashes, and the people there were wonderful. As a result of what I told them about the first place, they have now opened their crematory to pets; if only they had been available for Emily! I later spoke with several other pet cremation services, and the consensus was that my bad experience was one-of-a-kind, and that 99.999% of these services are very sensitive and caring.
It’s a very personal choice, and we’ll likely bury all future pets (what a morbid shelf we’d have in the house otherwise!), but Emily was special and it’s nice having her on the piano rather than outside in the ground. I understand that the $55 fee we paid is a little on the low side, but up to $100 is still not too expensive IMO. And if we move we can take her with us.
You also might want to go to http://www.petloss.com and write a memorial to Max. I like to go there and look at Miss Emily’s every so often myself.
As for other pets, they’ll know. Emily did most of her dying inside our house; when we returned from the vet’s afterward, the outside dogs were very subdued. I think they smelled her on hubby’s clothes. And when we brought Scout inside the next day, she immediately went sniffing at the places where Emily had been sick and the last place she had lain – even though we had cleaned. She was uncharacteristically quiet for about a week. They’ll know. Trust me.
Oh, Whammo, it’s a terrible thing to lose a pet. We were glad we were home with Emily during her final hours (though we didn’t realize they were final until shortly before the end) and were there still telling her how much we loved her, and that she did not die alone. I know that you will be with Max, and that he will know he’s loved. And that’s something you’ll be glad of in your sadness.
(can’t type anymore – my vision is blurring wetly)