Rainbow Bridge

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 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 had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

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, is 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 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…

-Author unknown

Pepper & Maggie
Pepper & Maggie

One of the saddest things about owning a dog is when they die. It is always too soon and the circumstances are always less then ideal. Loosing a pet is a hard process whether you had that pet for it’s entire life or only a brief time. Circumstances may vary between a tragic loss through an accident, a long illness coming to an end, or the owner having to make a decision on euthanasia. It is different for all of us but across the board, doctors and psychologists tell people not to be surprised as you go through the stages of grief for your pet as you may have or will go through with a human friend or family member.

In the spring and early summer of 2010 I lost two dogs that were very important to me. One was my own Irish Terrier, Pepper and the other was my parent’s Irish Terrier, Maggie. Each dog made a significant impact on who I am as a person and especially who I am as a dog trainer. They each left a small shamrock shaped hole in my heart. I know they are waiting for me along with many others on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. I admit that I was overwhelmed by the grief and find myself struggling with not having Pepper around and going through the stages. But it gets better everyday with the help of Leinie, Frappuccino, and all the wonderful dogs I meet and work with everyday.

I’m not alone in my loss, and this is one of the reasons I am posting this page. Many of us have lost a beloved pet. From time to time you will see blog posts about dogs I have known that have joined Pepper and Maggie. It helps to know there are people that have been through the same thing, and there are many resources out there to turn to.

The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement has some really nice articles, services and support to help people through their grieving.

There is also a wonderful book by Cynthia Rylant called Dog Heaven that I seem to read all to often.

Another favorite of mine is I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm

A wonderful way I found to memorialize a lost pet is Nevations– Memories Preserved in Glass. Artist Deb Pruitt started Nevations after her dog Neva, passed suddenly. I had the good fortune of meeting both Deb and Neva when I was working for Aunt Faye’s Dog Training in Ohio. I have seen some of her work love what she has done for me with some mementos of Pepper!

I have also found that sharing stories of your dog is always a good way to keep them in your heart. Please feel free to share with me, because I am sure at some time or another you will hear tales of Pepper, my wild Irish Terrier.

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