My greyhound was cremated and this came back with her ashes - I'd never seen the Rainbow Bridge story and did not know where the phrase came from:
Just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies, that has been especially close to
someone here, that pet goes over the Rainbow Bridge. There are
meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine. And our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigour; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of the days and times gone by.
The animals are hapy and content, except for one small thing - they miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind. They all run and play
togerher, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks up into the distance. His bright eyes are intent, his eager body begins to quiver.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group. Flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face, your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent in your heart.
I had to have one of mine put down last month too. It's never an easy thing. Anyway, this is my favorite dog memorial:
Where to Bury a Dog by Ben Hur Lampman
We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry tree strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a dog.
Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavored bone, or lifted his head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death.
Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else. For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing is lost - if memory lives. But there is one
best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.
If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call -- come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs here. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his foot, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth knowing. The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.
Originally appeared in The Oregonian in 1926 and later was included in the late author's book of essays and poems, "How Could I Be Forgetting."
Speaking of animals and the memorials we put up for them, does anyone have a source for a waterproof frame or similar item that can be used to erect a photo and saying that will not get diluted by rain? Thank you!!!
I have also read this story many times. When my Chocolate Lab was euthanized at age 14 last year, the animal hospital where he was euthanized sent us a sympathy card in the mail with "Rainbow Bridge" printed on the inside of it, along with a personal note about how they really enjoyed being able to treat him,and how they'd miss him.
Before anyone puts the kleenex away or fixes her make-up... this is my favorite.
"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan..."
The Once Again Prince, Separate Lifetimes, by Irving Townsend
Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron,his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on.
Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."
Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All the recent arrivals were confused and concerned. They had no idea what to think for they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had spent some time waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was happening and began to gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge to watch. They knew this was something special.
It wasn't too long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung heavy and low with tail dragging along the ground. The other animals on the pathway...the ones who had been at Rainbow Bridge for a while...knew the story of this sad creature immediately. They had seen it happen far too many times.
Although it was obvious the animal's heart was leaden and he was totally overcome with emotional pain and hurt, there was no sign of injury or any illness. Unlike the pets waiting at the Bridge, this dog had not been restored to his prime. He was full of neither health nor vigor. He approached slowly and painfully, watching all the pets who were by now watching him. He knew he was out of place here. This was no resting place for him. He felt instinctively that the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But alas, as he came closer to the Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who spoke softly to the old dog and apologized sorrowfully, telling him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their special people could pass over the Rainbow Bridge. And he had no special beloved people...not here at the Bridge nor on Earth below.
With no place else to turn, the poor elderly dog looked toward the fields before the Bridge. There, in a separate area nearby, he spotted a group of other sad-eyed animals like himself...elderly and infirm. Unlike the pets waiting for their special people, these animals weren't playing, but simply lying on the green grass, forlornly and miserably staring out at the pathway leading to the Bridge. The recent arrival knew he had no choice but to join them. And so, he took his place among them, just watching the pathway and waiting.
One of the newest arrivals at the Bridge, who was waiting for his special people, could not understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the pets who had been there for some time to explain it to him.
"That poor dog was a rescue, sent to the pound when his owner grew tired of him. They way you see him now, with graying fur and sad, cloudy eyes, was exactly the way he was when he was put into the kennels. He never, ever made it out and passed on only with the love and comfort that the kennel workers could give him as he left his miserable and unloved existence on Earth for good. Because he had no family or special person to give his love, he has nobody to escort him across the Bridge."
The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?"
As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the all-invasive gloom lifted. Coming toward the Bridge could be seen a single figure...a person who, on Earth, had seemed quite ordinary...a person who, just like the elderly dog, had just left Earth forever. This figure turned toward a group of the sad animals and extended outstretched palms. The sweetest sounds they had ever heard echoed gently above them and all were bathed in a pure and golden light. Instantly, each was young and healthy again, just as they had been in the prime of life.
From within the gathering of pets waiting for their special people, a group of animals emerged and moved toward the pathway. As they came close to the passing figure, each bowed low and each received a tender pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. Their eyes grew even brighter as the figure softly murmured each name. Then, the newly-restored pets fell into line behind the figure and quietly followed this person to the Bridge, where they all crossed together.
The recent arrival who had been watching, was amazed. "What happened?"
"That was a rescuer," came the answer. "That person spent a lifetime trying to help pets of all kinds. The ones you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of such unselfish work. They will cross when their families arrive. Those you saw restored were ones who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are permitted to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor pets that couldn't be placed on Earth across the Rainbow Bridge. You see, all animals are special to them...just as they are special to all animals."
"I think I like rescuers," said the recent arrival.