Freeze-dried pets may not play with you or go out for walks, but they look pretty darn real, LiveScience reports. And they cater to the need of pet owners who want little Scruffy or Ruby to last until the end. "What we hear from pet owners is that they're so attached to their pet, they just can't stand to bury their pet or they don't want to cremate it," says a taxidermist who freeze-dries animals. "It's just too precious to them." Some owners are even buried side-by-side with their freeze-dried pets.
The process isn't a simple one, however: Taxidermists first replace internal organs and fat with artificial fillers, and insert false eyes into the sockets (even for closed-eye poses, to prevent a sunken look). The freeze-drying chamber then lowers the air pressure until ice becomes gas without turning into liquid. The whole process can take months and costs hundreds, even thousands of dollars depending on the pet's size. One taxidermist, though, says he'd never do it to his own pet: "It'd kill me to come in and look at her every day."