I first met Bribie Island’s Heinrich van Rensburg, a couple of weeks ago through my dear Dalmatian, Bertie.

But let’s get the background to this story sorted out first. It all started a little after Bertie’s 15th birthday. That’s 105 years old in human terms! I noticed a limp in his left hind leg. As the year progressed the limp became more pronounced. The vet diagnosed ‘old age’ as the cause, an X Ray showing nothing of consequence.

As his mobility started to deteriorate, I had to carry him up and down our home’s internal and external stairs. Not an easy task with Bertie weighing in at 30 kilos and I’m over 80! His hearing and eyesight were also failing. He had started constantly whimpering, so, I gave him vet prescribed painkillers which allowed him to sleep most of the time. I began to realise that my faithful, loving friend’s quality of life was becoming poor, leaving me with a painful decision to make.

Was I keeping him alive because I loved to have him with me, irrespective of the pain he felt? It is a decision that dog lovers the world over face, when their four-footed friend is in strife.

My pal Bertie mercifully passed, and I was faced with a dilemma. Should I dig a grave for his final resting place at the bottom of my garden or should he be cremated? What if I was to move house? The thought of leaving Bertie alone in a garden, was not a thought I wished to countenance. So, cremation it was. And that’s where Heinrich van Rensburg and his cremation service, comes into this story.

A South African by birth, he progressed through a banking and car dealership career before emigrating to the United States. After 10 years there, he decided that Queensland, Australia, was really his true place of residence and successfully achieved citizenship here after 2 years of hard work.

His love of animals saw him became a volunteer at Redcliffe’s Peninsula Animal Aid. Here he saw the sad end results of heartless humans’ treatment towards pets. Noting that many cremation services appeared profit driven, he established a cremation service on Bribie Island Road to ‘give our pets the best farewell ever’. He has done just that, with my wonderful Bertie getting ‘the best send-off’ ever.

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