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Susan Osborne and Alan Boles placed an obituary for their dog Digger, who died last month at the age of 9, in the Daily Camera on Sunday. Digger is the third of the couple's pets to die since April.

Digger Osborne-Boles, a 9-year-old greyhound who died last month, loved running after tennis balls.

But as his obituary in Sunday's Daily Camera noted, he wasn't particularly interested in bringing them back to Alan Boles and Susan Osborne, who adopted him five years ago.

"Unusually for a greyhound, he loved to chase and catch tennis balls — although he was not particularly diligent at returning them and often carried them off to privately admire," the couple wrote in the obituary, which included the dates of Digger's birth and death under a photo of him with a tennis ball between his two front paws.

Osborne, a former Boulder mayor, and Boles, a retired Boulder city attorney who's been involved in local politics, have been writing obituaries for their pets since at least 1993, after the death of their dog Blossom.

All told, they've placed obituaries in the Camera for seven dogs and four cats in more than 20 years.

This spring and summer have been particularly hard for Boles and Osborne, who have lost Digger, a female greyhound named Peggy and their cat Moon, all since April.

"It's the same reason you write an obituary for a person," Osborne said. "It's to recall a person and let people who knew them know that they have died. A lot of people knew Digger and Peggy, and so it's partly for them. It's to remember them and make a public statement about their lives."

Billy Magrini, an advertising representative for the Daily Camera, said the newspaper doesn't receive many pet obituaries, which cost between $100 and $200.


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The practice is not unheard of, however.

An entire section of Legacy.com is dedicated to pets, and other standalone websites, such as FondPetMemories.com, are dedicated entirely to pet obituaries and memorials.

Last year, The Guardian newspaper asked readers to send in pet obituaries and ran a selection of those submissions online. Comedian Sarah Silverman wrote a poignant obituary after her dog Duck "Doug" Silverman died in 2013.

'No interest in sitting on furniture'

The obituary for Digger is eloquent and detailed, referring to the greyhound's many oddities, likes, dislikes and personality traits.

"When stretching or settling down on his bed, he often groaned and sighed like an old man," according to the obituary, which was written by Boles and edited by Osborne. "He abhorred and avoided narrow spaces and had no interest in sitting on furniture."

Each dog and cat has a unique personality, and Osborne said they hoped to make that clear in their pets' obituaries.

She said she also hopes the obituaries make a public statement about treating animals with kindness.

"If you haven't had dogs or cats, they can all seem kind of alike except for some have longer muzzles or shorter tails or something," she said. "But once you're a devoted pet guardian you realize how different their personalities are, just like with people."

Boles said the obituaries were a way to cope with the grief that came with losing each pet and to crystallize his feelings about them.

He, too, said each pet was unique and said he felt that uniqueness deserved recognition.

"We often don't pay enough attention to the value of the human and non-human animals around us," he said.

'An unselfconsciousness'

Because Osborne and Boles are retired, Digger and Peggy followed them wherever they went throughout the house.

Boles also took Digger on long hikes in Boulder County.

"Part of what makes their deaths so difficult is they're just such a close part of the fabric of your life and they're with you all the time," he said. "There's a spontaneity about animals that is usually delightful and an unselfconsciousness that is really appealing.

"And then a lot of times they're just really funny."

Osborne and Boles have adopted all of their greyhounds from nonprofit organizations that take in retired or failed racing dogs.

After losing three pets in six months, it may be a while before they adopt again, Osborne said. It's the first time in 40 years that they haven't had a dog to care for, she added.

"We love the breed and they definitely need people to adopt them," she said. "Every week, practically, greyhound (racing) rejects — mostly from Arkansas and Florida — are brought to Colorado."

Sarah Kuta: 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta