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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Over The Rainbow Bridge | For Our Rosie

Most of us have suffered the loss of a beloved pet. Pet loss is quite different from losing one's humans. People tend to show lots of support and sympathy over the loss of a loved one, but what happens when your beloved is a pet, a dog, a cat, a ... goldfish? Lots of people don't get it. They don't get what cherished pets mean to their owner. Most folks don't even understand that there are some of us out there who have opted for a fur ball instead of a human child, whether out of necessity or by choice. Pet loss is tragic to the animal lover, and that's why I feel the need to address it. In our animal blog-dom, sympathy abounds. We're all in this together, but the rest of the world, thinks differently.

I remember many excruciating losses, but one of them stands out. Rosie was the first dog I lost to a tragic accident. I got a call around 11 o'clock one evening by a sweet woman who was telling me my dog was dead. After arguing with her that my dog was just fine and I had just let her out into our back yard just 5 minutes earlier, I took a deep breath, and, with the woman still on the phone, I went to my yard to call my Rosie's name. Rosie was a chocolate lab and she was only four. She didn't respond to my calls. The lady was right. Instead of finding my dog, I found out that our block wall had collapsed quietly after a heavy downpour. Rosie was lying dead by the entrance of the freeway near my home. By the time my son and I got to Rosie, we found a circus. Police cars blocking the freeway entrance, people covering their faces; they were all there to watch. My son and I carried her to the car and then . . . we didn't know what to do. We called the Emergency Animal Hospital who told us to bring her in and they'd take care of the rest.

At the hospital we were treated with love and respect. We were all animal lovers. They took our Rosie and asked if we'd like her cremated. We did. We went home devastated and feeling empty. My birthday was dawning. I still hate my birthday since that awful day seven years ago.

The "party" started the next day. The phone rang first thing in the morning. It was our regular vet offering his condolences and telling me something about a rainbow bridge. I'm European. I thought he may be on acid. Why, oh why would anybody be talking to me about rainbows and bridges at a time like this? I wanted to tell him he was fired and that I'd find a different vet, but I couldn't. I thanked him and hung up.

A couple of days later, I received a card from the Emergency Hospital. It was a picture of a bridge with a rainbow. Damn it! What was wrong with everyone in this country? I looked at the back of the card and read the, in my opinion, infamous Rainbow Bridge Poem:

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

The rainbow bridge poem hasn't been around that long. It was written sometime around the year 1980. It's meant for humans to deal with their grief mourning the loss of a beloved pet that has died. It's about a utopian place animals go to after death. It is Pet Heaven. 
Our family was suffering as random Rainbow Bridge cards kept coming in. None of us felt better. Finally, Rosie's ashes arrived. They were in a plastic container that was placed inside a tacky purple pouch wrapped in a tacky golden cord. Our 80lb dog fit inside a tiny pouch. The purple pouch was embroidered and it read, "Until we meet again at the rainbow bridge." Dang it! But now I realized that my anger shouldn't be aimed at the nice people who sent me the only thing they could think of, a promise that my Rosie was not suffering. I was angry over the actual event, Rosie's death. I started to calm down and not cringe so much when a well-wisher mentioned the Rainbow Bridge.

Ever since I've joined the animal blogging community, I have seen clearly that there is a purpose to the rainbow bridge. It is soothing. It makes sense. The rainbow bridge poem talks about joy and a reunion. I want my pets to go there. I want to meet them again. I have learned to take consolation at the thought that all the wonderful animals that have touched my life will all end up in this pet heaven. 

Once I had come to terms with the idea of the rainbow bridge, a good friend of mine, one of the bloggers we interact with, a lampworker, started her own line of memorial beads for pet owners.  Holly Dare, a dog lover, rescuer, advocate herself, having suffered her own pet losses wanted to be able to keep her beloved departed fur babies close to her. She put her creativity to work and came up with beautiful memorial beads using cremains. This is the link to Holly Dare's Memorial Beads. There are many lampworkers who create glass beads out of cremains, but she's my number one choice because she's my friend, I love her work, and I know that she cares. 

I haven't yet had the courage to ask for a Rosie Bead. No matter how many pets have been in my life since that awful day, Rosie still occupies a large chunk of my heart. Having a memorial bead I can actually touch might make me miss her less, I'm just hoping. 

Animal lovers and bloggers, we have each other. We can at least comfort one another, because sometimes non animal lovers simply don't get it!



♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

We took a look at Holly's memorial beads - they are so beautiful. And they are a very nice way to remember a beloved pet. Our Mom and Dad opted not to take cremains for Dakota, they don't know why for sure, but just wanted to remember her through their photos. The whole concept of the rainbow bridge is very soothing to those left behind, really gives the mind and heart something beautiful and peaceful to focus on instead of the pain of the loss.

Great post, as always.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

You know when you are ready, a Rosie bead will be yours.... Thank you for sharing Rosie's story with your readers. She was a very special pupster!

Two French Bulldogs said...

What a nice post. We do like the rainbow bridge poem.
Benny & Lily

rottrover said...

Holly made the beautiful "Allie Bead" for me. On certain days when I'm really missing her special spirit I wear it on our favorite hiking trail. The bead is lovely and I wear it often; but I only tell 'certain people' what it really is because, as you say, "sometimes non animal lovers simply don't get it!"

Lorenza said...

You are right. Non animal lovers don't get it.
Thanks for sharing Rosie's story with us.
Take care
Kisses and hugs

The Oceanside Animals said...

That poem always gets me. *sniff*

The Daily Pip said...

Thanks for sharing Rosie's story with us. I am headed over to check out Holly's memorial beads now.

Your pal, Pip

Sagira said...

The memorial beads are beautiful.

I love the Rainbow Bridge poem. Someone sent us the card when our cat passed away years ago. I tried to find the card for my friend and couldn't find it not long ago though.

Thanks for the kind words about Samick and all the video comments. :)

Yas said...

Nice post! We luv the memorial beads, they're really something special and different!


NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog said...

Thanks fur sharing...

It is khwite the khoncept -

Mom had to talk about it today during her transport fur this weekend's run was done fur Maggie that khrossed last month -

As we say, it's bye fur just now -


Noah the Airedale said...

Oh my goodness, just a sad story. We are sorry you didnt have more time with Rosie.

Noah Willow Tess Lucy x

Sketching with Dogs said...

We had never heard of the memorial beads.
Often, our humans are closer to us than their own relatives and we know Mum's heart is broken when she loses a beloved furfriend.
Wags, Dip Bridge and Elliot xx

Molly the Airedale said...

How beautiful the memorial beads are! Thank you for sharing Rosie with us. She died far too young :-(

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

Kapitein Haakje said...

so nice of you!!
we gonna miss her

el'bow & hauwii

The Thundering Herd said...

What a beautiful post. We do understand and think the Rainbow Bridge is a beautiful way to think about what might be ahead for us.

P.S. - We Siberian Husky owners have a variation of that story called North of the Rainbow Bridge. Here is one version -

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Thank you for trusting us to understand your pain. We do.
The Rainbow Bridge rips my heart up every time I read it,,, but in another way it helps.
I think the beads are an excellent idea.
We have visited Whispers of the Heart where we bought a little sterling silver heart that we put some fur from one of our beloved pugs. We wear it on a chain everyday, and the peace it gives is like a healing.

Nadine, Chewy and Lilibell said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes. In the past 8 years I've suffered through the loss of 2 beloved cats, so I can understand your pain. You are so right in saying that others do not understand the grief we go through when we lose a pet - because we're not losing a pet, we are losing a member of our family.

Thank you for sharing this with us. And also thank you for sharing the link to the memorial beads.

Amy & the house of cats said...

Oh this is so sad. And honestly I will admit that I didn't understand the rainbow bridge the first time I heard about it either - though I did hear about it before I had to go through any of it. I know most bloggers believe in it in some way or another, but I am always so hesitant to say anything (I always end up rewrititng any condolence post so many times). And your story shows that even so many years later it is still hard to deal with a loved furry friend who had to leave.

And thank you for sharing about the memorial beads - they are a wonderful idea. I have always thought that the Lifegems were a great idea but this is a good one too that makes me think I may get one someday for Floyd. But I am just not ready to do that yet.

Mollie Jo and Bobo said...

We too are a little leaky after reading your post. We (us poodles and momma) have only lost one furbaby in our lives out aunt dolly. We too love the feeling of knowing that there are people (our blogging buddies) who understand and send such kind words when times are hard! We loved the link for the stones. Thanks for sharing it!

Wags and Licks,
Mollie Jo & Bobo

ForPetsSake said...

Thanks for sharing what must've been a painful memory. I was reading this to Matty and had to stop and choke back the lump in my throat ALOT. So many memories. I first heard of the rainbow bridge after the loss of my first dog and was so soothed (after the million crying bouts) by its imagery.

Dexter said...

We didn't understand the Rainbow Bridge when we started blogging, but now we do and it is a great comfort. It helps us to always remember our doggie pals during happy, healthy times. Thank you for sharing that very sad but important story.


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