Rainbow Bridge – it’s wherever you imagine it to be
Today I want to discuss a place called Rainbow Bridge and most pet lovers/owners will know what I mean by that.
It is a place that our pets go to when they die and I know this because my pets have told me. Whether or not you choose to believe in this is entirely up to you, after all we are all entitled to believe in what we like.
But I know one thing, when we as pet owners are forced to make the difficult decision of having our pets put to sleep, we know of several things;
1. We know that we are ending their pain and suffering
2. We know that we are doing this because we love them and although a hard and painful decision, we know it is for their best
3. And if we are taking steps to end their suffering then surely they are going to a better place?
Rainbow Bridge – you can see it and believe in it if you choose to.
This story is told by my animals and for those of you that follow this blog, will know that I make my animals talk and have social lives, I am a bit of a ‘Dr Doolittle’ if you like. My stories are aimed at adults and often have adult content.
It is aimed at any pet owner who may be struggling to make the decision to send their pet on its final journey and I hope in some way, that it can make it easier to imagine and realise that although owning a pet is incredibly painful when we have to say goodbye, it is also a privilege that can enrich our lives and teach us well, leaving us with wonderful memories to treasure.
Gordon patiently explains about Rainbow Bridge to Brutus
One day (last year) Brutus and Gordon were lying next to each other on the sofa chatting about life – they often did this and at that time, Brutus was much younger then and would positively drink any knowledge that the elderly ginger cat gave to him.
‘Gordon, what is Rainbow Bridge? I heard some dogs in the park talk about it one day, they were all really nice about it but said their owners were upset, what is it?’ Brutus asked Gordon who stared at the young pup intently.
‘What is Rainbow Bridge? – Well let me tell you but I warn you now, there is no quick or easy explanation’ Gordon replied, then wriggled around a bit and settled down so that he could see Brutus and talk to him.
‘Rainbow Bridge is a place that we animals go to when our time with our owners and our life on this earth is done, basically it is when our beating hearts can no longer beat’. Gordon started to say.
‘But where is it, is it in the park, can we walk there?’ Brutus asked Gordon who was now washing his anus in a quick interlude.
‘Oh we can’t get to it until we are sent there and our owners certainly can’t but we animals all know about it and what happens and if you close your eyes and imagine a place where no animal is hungry, no animal has pain, no animal has arthritis or any illness and there are toys and tennis balls and water and mud to play in, all the food we could want and every animal is happy, you get the idea’. Gordon replied.
Brutus looked confused, he had pretty much everything he loved including his Tony Abbott doll and he could never imagine being hungry, well actually he could because he got pretty hungry at meal times but he guessed that was different.
‘No-one should ever be afraid of going to Rainbow Bridge, it is just a lovely place for any pet to go to’ Gordon said firmly.
‘Do you know anyone that has gone there?’ Brutus asked Gordon.
Gordon went quiet for a few minutes, it was still difficult for him to talk about but as Brutus was asking the question, it meant that he was ready to hear the answer.
‘Firstly there was Juniper’ Gordon started to say and then said ‘Let me tell you about Juniper – that was when we lived in London’.
Brutus sat glued to his seat while Gordon explained about the little torti long haired cat called Juniper, whom he loved and cherished, washed and groomed, chased, bashed and just loved her – actually may I just add that I loved her and still to this day miss her and never quite got over her having to go to Rainbow Bridge before I considered her ready but that is another story.
My beautiful tortoiseshell cat – Juniper
‘Juniper developed stomach problems one day and collapsed – it all happened very quickly and I remember Mum coming back from town and finding her lying on the carpet with her tummy swollen.
‘I knew something was wrong’ Gordon carried on speaking and Brutus carried on listening.
‘I remember asking her where she was going and she said to me in her quite torti voice ‘It is time for me to go to Rainbow Bridge’ and that was when I learned about Rainbow Bridge for myself and what it meant’.
Juniper explains to Gordon about Rainbow Bridge
‘Of course I didn’t want her to go, I loved her and lived for her and even forgave her for sicking up a furball on my bed, she was a chatty cat who would talk to everyone and noone and it was only when the vet examined her and reckoned she was brain damaged that we realised why she was so special and would run around the house with dried turd stuck to her bum’. Gordon told Brutus.
‘What was wrong with her, couldn’t the vet help her?’ Brutus asked confused. He would have liked Juniper, he was sure of that.
‘Well I remember Mum having a look on her face, she was working as a veterinary nurse at the time and knew something was wrong, she picked up Juniper and placed her in the white basket that we still have to this day and got her in a taxi to rush her to the vet and that was the last I saw of her’.
‘Two days later, Mum was called to the vet as they had observed Juniper and had decided to open her up in an operation and Mum had to go and see Juniper before they did it’
‘Now I wasn’t there but Mum said she remembered seeing Junipers tortoiseshell coat through the frosty glass as the vet took her from the basket and Mum went in to give her a cuddle, I think they talked about ‘stuff’ but I don’t know what as Mum never told me’. Gordon said quietly – he was finding it a bit hard to remember this but could not admit it to Brutus.
‘All I know is that Mum came home with an empty basket and told me that Juniper had died of cancer that had and Mum had held her in her arms while she was sent to Rainbow Bridge.
‘The only thing she knew and all that any animal knows is when they leave this life and go on to the next, they do get to see a bit of their owners so that they can keep an eye on things until they know they are alright and this can often take a while’.
‘But how do you know what they see at Rainbow Bridge if you are still here?’ Brutus asked.
‘It is something that at some point in our lives, we just get told – just like I am telling you, I have told Rocky and Juniper told me and Junipers brother before me – Bruno the cat, told Juniper. It is a fact of life that comes to us all and a fine piece of knowledge to know’ Gordon said.
(Gordon held his leg high in the air as he washed his anus until he was ready to talk again)
‘Juniper had felt sick and had hidden it for so long that Mum and Dad didn’t have a clue and Juniper knew that when Mum came to the vet to see her before her operation, that it would be the last time she would see her and that is why they had their moment alone together.
‘Juniper felt a bit scared, she didn’t want to leave Mum and she clearly remembers Mum holding her and crying and that made it hard for Juniper to leave. But her body was no longer working and no longer ‘fit her enormous personality’ and really was not good for her anymore and Rainbow Bridge would make her young and fit again, although she was only eight years old, she could have a new lease of life where she would never age and never feel pain again’. Said Gordon.
‘Then what happened?’ Brutus asked.
‘Juniper suddenly saw herself on the vet table with Mum holding her, she looked down for a bit and then looked up and saw a group of cats asking her to go to them. The temptation was too much and as Juniper slowly started to walk to the cats above her, with each step, the pain got less until she reached the cats and there was no pain at all.
‘She didn’t know what to do but she knew she couldn’t go back down to Mum. She could see Mum holding a small torti cat and crying but it no longer felt like it was her – Juniper. She could also see beyond the group of cats, was a large field with all kinds of birds and butterflies and all things that cats like to chase and it looked like such a nice place, she really wanted to go in there.
‘Juniper followed the group of cats and went through the gate and was met with lots of other cats but the thing that surprised her the most, was she met with her brother who had died 18 months prior – Bruno the large black cat. In fact just after Bruno was sent to Rainbow Bridge, Mum was so upset that she went out and rescued me and I came into her life at 9 weeks old.
‘Juniper kept looking back to Mum, not knowing what to do but she knew Mum would be OK, she just knew it because Mum had already done the kindest thing and the only thing she could do and that was send her to Rainbow Bridge and anyone with that kind of strength to do what is right by their pet even though it hurts them as owners, is always going to be OK in life.
‘What happened then?’ Brutus asked Gordon.
‘Well, Juniper saw Bruno and ran up to him – he looked marvellous, so healthy and no sign of the illness that he had when he lived with Mum and Dad. Apparently Bruno greeted Juniper with an affectionate head butt and said ‘Hi Juniper, welcome to Rainbow Bridge’.
‘Juniper walked a bit hesitantly at first and then after a few minutes, was chasing bits of ribbon and butterflies and anything that could float higher than she could in the wind. Ten minutes later, it were as though she had been there forever’.
‘Did you miss her Gordon?’ Brutus asked his brother.
Gordon went quiet for a few minutes and then replied ‘Yes lad, and I still do’.
‘How come you know what happens there when you haven’t been?’ Brutus asked Gordon.
‘We animals are privileged and it is our duty to pass this knowledge on to the younger ones so when it happens to us, you are prepared and in turn, once you gain this knowledge, at some point you will experience it with one of us or yourself. We are lucky to know what we know and to see what we see’. Gordon told Brutus.
‘Have you seen anyone else go to Rainbow Bridge?’ Brutus asked Gordon.
‘Rema, Rema the whippet – I loved her so much, she was the first dog that I fell in love with and one I will never forget’ Gordon replied sounding a bit upset.
‘Rema was a beautiful blue whippet who won dog shows as she was so pretty and Mum even used to race her. I remember when Mum worked in the vets in London, she would take Rema to work because in England, dogs are allowed on buses, tubes and trains and even in some taxis’ Gordon said matter-of-factly.
Rema (the commuter) and me (the vet nurse), waiting for our train
He was very proud of the fact that he came from a country that allowed that and had even been on a few buses himself and trains when he had his de-sexing done at the Royal Veterinary College in Camden when his Mum worked there as a veterinary nurse.
Rema at a lure coursing event in Devon
Gordon and Rema discuss Rainbow Bridge
‘So what happened with Rema?’ Brutus asked. He would have liked Rema and would have enjoyed racing with her.
‘Rema got to 12 years old and had developed kidney problems and was also incontinent and would pee herself all the time – you think shitting yourself is bad!, her back legs were very weak and kept giving way and one day Mum had decided that Rema should go to Rainbow Bridge. She had all sores in her mouth from her bad kidneys and her appetite had gone, old age had literally stolen her from herself.
‘Mum’s old friend who is a vet and used to be Mum’s boss and was the one person that Rema loved and would allow him to do anything to her because quite simply, she trusted him.
‘Mums friend examined Rema and said the kindest thing to do was to send her to Rainbow Bridge. Mum had been thinking about it for a while but needed to know it was the right time because Brutus, there is always a right time to go to Rainbow Bridge, it is just a matter of realising it.
‘Mum held Rema as she went over the Bridge and although Rema was sad hearing Mum cry and having to leave her body behind, when she saw Juniper and Bruno at the gate to Rainbow Bridge, she started to trot and the closer she got, she realised that for the first time in ages, she wanted to eat, she wanted to run and she wasn’t wetting herself as she did it.
‘There were dog toys everywhere, there were rabbits to chase (but not hurt), there were blocks of cheese for her to have (Rema loved stealing cheese) and Rema was so happy to see Bruno and Juniper, that she started barking her head off’.
Brutus was taking this all in, it was so much to take in and he would have questions to ask later no doubt; lots of questions.
‘Gordon, what happened then? Was Mum OK, how can she be OK when she has seen three pets go to Rainbow Bridge?’ Brutus asked sounding more than upset, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to this place where his Mum and Dad were not allowed, he wasn’t sure at all.
Gordon stared at him and touched Brutus’s face to comfort him and replied ‘Mum was just fine, she hugged Rema and said ‘Thank you for being my dog’ so she told me anyway and she said afterwards that knowing Rema wasn’t suffering any more and was at ‘The Bridge’ made it a bit easier. But I will admit to hearing her crying each night for some time and she refused to get rid of Rema’s toys for ages. In fact, she still has her collar which Rocky wore when he was a puppy’
‘Does getting another pet mean you don’t love the one you sent to Rainbow Bridge?’ Brutus asked Gordon, he was confused now.
‘Oh no’ Gordon shook his head vigorously and added ‘Our humans have unlimited space in their lives if they love their pets. We all leave our mark in whatever we have chewed, dug, or destroyed and also in the memories which can never be erased and when a new pet comes into our humans lives needing a loving home, it is never ever a replacement, it just merely takes up a new place to leave his/her own impression on and add to the memory bank of pet ownership.
‘After all, you are hearing about my own memories of Juniper and Rema and in turn, you will have your memories of myself and Rocky but it doesnt mean that there is no room in your life to build up new ones’ Gordon reassured Brutus.
‘Does Rocky know all of this?’ Brutus asked Gordon.
Gordon nodded and said ‘Yes, I had exactly the same chat with Rocky when he was about your age’
Gordon chats to Rocky about Rainbow Bridge
‘Is he scared to go there?’ Brutus asked Gordon.
Gordon smiled and touched Brutus’s face again and replied ‘No lad, he isn’t scared – there is nothing to be scared of. We all have a purpose here and that is to teach our owners to love things for their heart and soul, to be loyal, to be nice and be the best we can be; and once our job is done, it then becomes OUR time to live our own lives at Rainbow Bridge’.
(sounds of Rocky coming in from the garden)
‘What are you two up to?’ Rocky grinned at the two boys.
‘Rainbow Bridge – we are having that discussion’ Gordon said to the little black kelpie who was taking a drink.
Rocky glanced up at Brutus, trying to gauge how he was feeling, it was confusing for a young dog when he has ‘that’ discussion.
‘Ah, Rainbow Bridge – now that is a nice place for any pet to go, don’t be afraid lad – we all go there eventually, it’s just at different times that’s all’. Rocky said confidently.
(Later that night – all the animals were in their respective beds)
Brutus ponders on his thoughts about Rainbow Bridge
Brutus couldn’t sleep, it was all too much for him – he was worried about this Rainbow Bridge place and couldn’t understand how Gordon and Rocky were so calm about it all; would he ever accept it?
*Fast forward to this week – March 2014*
Vader the boxer (Brutus’s best friend) and Brutus were in the fenced off courts where we live and were just standing about chatting about stuff. Suddenly and out of the blue Brutus remembered the Rainbow Bridge conversation that he had with Rocky and Gordon last year.
Brutus and Vader the boxer discuss Rainbow Bridge
‘Vader, what do you know about Rainbow Bridge?’ Brutus asked his best friend.
Vader rearranged his enormous over-sized tongue so that he could answer back.
Staring at Brutus for a few seconds, Vader replied ‘Rainbow Bridge? Now that is a nice place for any pet to go to’
Brutus smiled and nodded, he suddenly felt quite comforted about it all and felt very grown up indeed. Looking at Vader, Brutus replied firmly ‘Yep, that is what Gordon and Rocky say too’.
And that was that – all that was said was what needed to be said – Rainbow Bridge – a nice place for any pet to go to.
According to our pets of course.
*This entry is dedicated to Bruno, Juniper and Rema – all the pets that I have had the privilege to own and to send over to Rainbow Bridge.*
Samantha Rose (c) Copyright March 2014