Richard Belfield finds animal madness isn't peculiar to the British. The Americans, too, are into heavy petting

Richard Belfield finds animal madness isn't peculiar to the British. The Americans, too, are into heavy pettingIt's generally assumed that the British are the world's most sentimental animal lovers. You know, all that stuff about how we prefer to talk to a mute mutt than another human being, believing that somehow this is a higher form of communication.

If you thought this was solely a British disease, you would be wrong. Take a trip to the Roadside Pet Cemetery (, a wonderful collection of real-life monuments to pets and animals which have been killed or died accidentally and become part of American folklore.

The site map is a virtual cemetery, laid out in sections, including the Noble Dog Mausoleum ("Every Pawprint A Stamp of Honor"), behemoths ("since you bury an elephant where it falls, monuments to these creatures are scattered across the country") and horses (featuring "Comanche, the most famous horse in America, a kind of equine Elvis").

The tone is pure Mark Twain, coming straight out of the hinterland between reality and surrealism. There's Herman the mouse, found dead after chewing through an electric cable and immortalised in a Manhattan bar, the cable still in his fried mouth. Or what about Andy, the goose born without feet, who was taken in by an inventor who made him a pair of boots. Or the court case won with a speech, which included this insight into the human condition: "The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world . . . is his dog."

There are also burial grounds for celebrities, mascots and pet vets (military animals). Given the extraordinary outpourings of love shown by a number of vets, some of it bordering on the sexual, I'm surprised there isn't a site called "Vets in Pets".

There is also the answer here to the big philosophical question, the one that has haunted backbench MPs of all parties for years. To discover the difference between being stuffed or mounted, go to the museum devoted to Trigger, Roy Rogers' horse. "After Trigger died at age 33, his hide was stretched over a plaster likeness and put on display, also reared on two legs, inside the museum. He is mounted, then, not stuffed."

So now you know.