Entry 437: Somewhere Over the Rainbow…Bridge

When our dog Toby died last summer, we were devastated. As I noted in this blog at the time, TOBYhe was the best dog that had ever lived.  He was a great friend to me, and he brought us so much joy during our time together.

As sad as we were, we didn’t really expect to receive condolence cards. But we did: one from Toby’s vet and two, a month apart, from Cornell University Veterinary Services, which has a comprehensive 24-hour facility here in Stamford, and which performed the final services. All three cards had this…well, I’m not sure what it is. A fable, maybe?

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. 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 from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

The second card from Cornell was accompanied, for no apparent reason, by a heavy “Rainbow Bridge Token,” which seemed odd, because the Rainbow Bridge didn’t sound like tokenit would have a toll. We have no idea what we’re supposed to do with it.  Maybe it entitles a member of our family to a free ride at Cornell. Or on the subway.

Anyway, this…fable…poem…whatever it is…(which I edited a bit for space), is sure to make you tear up when you’ve just lost a pet.

I had never heard of Rainbow Bridge before, but I’ve seen many references to it since. When we began thinking about getting a new dog, we joined some breed-specific Facebook pages on which people posted photos of puppies, tips for owning that breed and heart-breaking eulogies for their recently departed pals, to which other members would add sentiments like “Crossing over the rainbow bridge…” Some days, it seemed like there would be less traffic on the George Washington Bridge. But I guess that makes sense; that bridge goes to New Jersey.

couch2Anyway, almost a year has gone by for us, and while I still miss Toby terribly, we have a new puppy now, and enough time has passed for me to say: WHAT THE HELL!

I guess you tend to overlook things when you’re overcome with emotion, like when you love someone so much you choose to ignore the drool that streams from their mouth as soon as they fall asleep…with their head on your shoulder.

But getting back to pets, did you notice how cleverly generic Rainbow Bridge is? That’s so, whatever kind of pet you lost, you think that’s what it’s talking about. But I have some questions…

  • Doesn’t John’s pet canary thinks it’s somewhat less than heavenly when Jean’s pet cat comes along?
  • How long do you have to wait for your pet turtle to “run from the group” for your reunion?
  • Do you really want your dearly departed Slither to rain “happy kisses” upon your face, no matter how much you miss each other?
  • Are fish included? How exactly do their legs carry them faster and faster over the green grass, and is that how evolution got started? And, really, isn’t it kinda yucky to “cling together?”

But okay, I get it. It’s the thought that counts, and all that. So how about this thought:


It’s not visiting day at ye olde’ Rainbow Bridge. You’re not there to toss a frisbee a couple Rainbow-Bridge-Poem[1]of times, pick up some poop, and leave.

Yes, your pet is ecstatic, but you’re extinct. Your vet, or whoever sent you this Rainbow Bridge thing, is essentially saying, “I hope you die soon so you can be with Fido again.”

And notice: you’re reunited with your beloved pet, but any friends or relatives who may have predeceased you? Not so much. How come grandma’s eager body isn’t quivering? Why aren’t you caressing the head of your favorite uncle Moe with the comb-over? Why isn’t Jim Morrison, who you didn’t know personally, but really loved, flying across the grass singing “Light My Fire”?

Don’t get me wrong–I’m all for anything that brings a person comfort in his or her time of grief, whether that’s religion, a pint of Baskin Robbins Rocky Road, or multi-colored infrastructure.  I’m also not an unsentimental guy; we still have Toby’s first toy, a battered and faceless 13-year-old plush squirrel. Not to mention a Rainbow Bridge token.

It’s just that the whole Rainbow Bridge thing seems a bit too manufactured…a little too Hallmarky and Thomas Kincaide-y for my tastes.

But, sure, I’d love to be reunited with Toby when I die, especially if it means I’ll be “just this side of heaven.”

Although I figure this particular post is probably a strike against me.

See you soon.

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13 Responses to Entry 437: Somewhere Over the Rainbow…Bridge

  1. dexielee123 says:

    You are heartless

  2. Pingback: Entry 582: Tail Between My Legs (Starring Riley the Sheltie) | The Upsizers

  3. Nana says:

    Read about old Norse mythology. The rainbow bridge was real. Happy Paws!

    • markhal says:

      I think you need to read about the definition of the word “myth.”

      • Amelia says:

        I think you didn’t love you dog as much as you say you did. Believe it or not, this is what comforts all of us who love our pups just knowing (whether myth or not) we will see them again helps us get through the heartbreaking task of losing our beloved pets. Don’t know you…don’t want to. And by the looks of all the other responses, they don’t like you either. And neither will the rest of the people that read your heartless response.

  4. it is what it is you believe what you hold dear the original poster believes in Jack squat and generally thats what he’ll get ME I prefer the rainbow bridge Hallmark what ever – whether true or false I dont care but i do believe because I love and am loved the reason why I am there?? to be greeted by my fur baby – the people who wont be there with me all that is irrelevant its about the longing of some one precious whose love for me was to the max so you believe in Jack Squat I’ll believe in being reunited

  5. Lorraine anderson says:

    I have to say this: my sister was in the last stages o oh appendix cancer. She came home to my house to spend her final days. A few months prior she had to put her beloved Nellie down due to many medical problems. Just before my sister passed she turned her head and said “Baby Girl” one of the nicknames for Nellie. A few moments before she took her last breath she said Hi Nell. Her Nellie was waiting for her to cross with the rest of my family. They are both now up there together.

    • Elise says:

      That was lovely, Lorraine, having sat in the same position next to my sister while dying of cancer, I can imagine how comforting that was. Exactly, pets AND family together…as if heaven has a “cap” on how many can get in, lol. This guy means no harm, he’s just one of those persons who is quite confident others will see his cynicism as wit. Wrong audience, buddy, but at least you amused yourself when you wrote it so it’s not a total loss. Wish you well and hope many 2 and 4 legged souls are waiting for you when you’re, what did you call it? Oh yeah, FRIGGIN’ DEAD. Hilarious, right?

    • Amelia says:

      That is an awesome story.

    • Linda says:

      This is absolutely beautiful, and filled with such hope. Thank you for placing it here.

  6. Jason Kitt says:

    Wow. What a mean-spirited, pointless exercise in self-aggrandizement. You obviously missed the entire point of having a dog. Hope you feel better about yourself. Please stop writing.

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