Rufus was a caretaker, of plants and dogs and sheep and chickens – he tended to things and helped them grow.

Rufus was a loner who loved to sit by the fire and listen to the radio, he enjoyed lazy strolls through the forest and riding his electric bike to town followed by a pack of Border Collies. Rufus bred and trained Border Collies. Over the years he found it harder and harder to sell all the puppies, so the man and his dog Paul grew to the man and his six dogs – always faithfully by his side.

Rufus died suddenly in January this year.  His family and the local community were stunned, they needed a way to share and process their shock and grief so I created an online memorial webpage to help bring them together.

There are many online memorial sites to choose from, Forever Missed is a favorite.

When we take the time to share stories and memories of our brethren we memorialize their unique contribution to the world.


Rufus’ family are scattered throughout Europe so the messages and photos on his page were not only comforting but they learned things they never knew about his later years in Canada and enlightened his friends about his earlier years in England and France. As Rufus’ Memorial Page grew, a rich and colorful tapestry emerged of a life well lived.

“I remember the first day we met – the hat, the cigarette, the staff and the dog. You knew what you liked Rufus and what you stood for, and you knew how to get stuff done. No matter the problem or task, you would figure out a way to fix it. You were a man of your word Rufus, a man I could trust. I will always remember our long talks over cups of tea as I got to know and respect you. You were easy to know but hard to reach. You said it yourself on your Facebook page:

“I want to be cuddled but I also want to be left the hell alone. Being crazy is hard.”

You were deeply kind and sensitive, a fighter for the underdog and the weakling. I remember the little black lamb who wouldn’t nurse and couldn’t walk and yet you brought it to life with your love and tenderness, fed it every 2 hours day and night and let it sleep with you for warmth. It was you we could trust with the care of a newborn – puppy, lamb, sparrow or human child. Thank you, Rufus.

I am sad that you are gone and yet glad you are free and hopefully enjoying unexpected beauty beyond your expectations. Like you posted a few weeks ago on your page:

“This morning the storm had passed. The power was out and the dogs were restless. So we dressed up warm and rode to the store. The odd bark of excitement, the sound of 16 paws in the snow, the trees groaning a little, the bike pushing though… I’m so grateful for these moments. They were honestly not expected.”

Thank you Rufus. RIP 

The Green Burial

While others were contributing to the memorial page, we began planning Rufus’ green burial. It seemed natural to bury him in the local green cemetery and natural to invite people to bring their dogs, Rufus would have liked that.

We gathered under the Pergola where friends could be close to his shroud and say any final words. His daughter Fany led pallbears to the ‘meadow’ where we formed a circle and invoked the four directions, the elements, the seasons and all the creatures of the earth to be with us as we honored our brother Rufus. The dogs barked, babies cried and friends told stories. It was simple, and true and kind.

Then we took Rufus to the grave which had been dug the day before and lined with cedar boughs ready to receive his body. Family and friends gently lowered the shroud. Fany placed his favorite hat and we all stepped up to add flowers and greenery and to say good bye. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Visit Rufus’ Memorial page for more stories and photos

About the Cemetery…

The Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery is the first exclusively green cemetery in Canada. It is operated by a non-profit society, whereas most cemeteries in Canada are operated by a municipality and thus are managed by government employees and supported by a local tax base. It is also a community cemetery, designed to serve the needs of the Denman community and limited to residents and their families.
Three wood sculptures mark the entrance and welcome visitors to the covered gate which provides seating for ten people. This is often used as a place where families and friends gather before a burial, especially in wet weather. Vehicles can back up to the south edge of the gate, allowing easy transfer of human remains to the two large fir stools made specifically to support a coffin or shrouding board. Pall bearers can then lift the container from the stools and carry it to the prepared grave.
A key feature of the Cemetery is The Gathering Space – an assemblage of simple memorial plaques displayed in an area removed from the graves. The two curved, concrete walls provide space for one thousand 3 x 5 in. bronze plaques that commemorate the lives of persons whose remains are buried in the Cemetery or whose ashes are scattered here. Each plaque has room for a one or two line epitaph – a quote or favorite saying of the one buried here.
This is where Rufus wanted to be, it is the perfect sanctuary for his quiet nature to be laid to rest. If you would like to learn more about the Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery, please visit their website.
To learn more about Green Burials, please visit

If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to have a green burial for your loved-one, please visit our Green Burial page.

Blog post and photography by Olivia Bareham.

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