The Rainbow Bridge
and Other Inspiring Stories

The Rainbow Bridge
A comforting story for all who have lost a loved pet.

The Rainbow Bridge for Rescuers
This would be a beautiful way for animal rescuers to end their days

A Dog Named Beau by Jimmy Stewart
A touching poem written and read by Jimmy Stewart on the Johnny Carson show

The Happy Dog's Bedtime Prayer

Just an Old Golden Retriever
A anecdote about the intelligence and loyalty dogs can demonstrate.

Just A Dog
This will put it in perspective about how important dogs are to those who love them.

Dog Heaven:
A cute story of the greatest test of the love between a man and his dog.

Dear Dogs
An open letter to put dogs... and people in their respectful places.

Dear God...
An amazing story of compassion for a little girl who sent her dog to Heaven.

Your Dog Died Today
If you have even rescued a dog from a shelter or took in a stray, this is your story.


Here is a collection of heartwarming and bittersweet stories I have collected over the years. Rescue groups e-mails back and forth between each other to the point where they become one line descriptions of entire philosophies. Grab a tissue, snuggle up to a furry friend and read along.

The 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, 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....

Author Unknown

The Rainbow Bridge for Rescuers

Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had been waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was going on and started to gather at the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch.

It wasn't long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often.

He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness. Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again. As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him. He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be.

But, alas, as he approached The Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge.

With no place else to turn to, the elderly animal turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other animals like himself, also elderly and infirm. They weren't playing, but rather simply lying on the green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge. And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting.

One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn't understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for a while to explain it to him.

"You see, that poor animal was a rescue. He was turned in to rescue just as you see him now, an older animal with his fur graying and his eyes clouding. He never made it out of rescue and passed on with only the love of his rescuer to comfort him as he left his earthly existence. Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one 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 gloom lifted. Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life.

"Watch, and see" said the second animal. A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. The newly restored animals fell into line and followed him towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together.

"What happened?"

"That was a rescuer. The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of his work. They will cross when their new families arrive. Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor animals that they couldn't place on earth, across The Rainbow Bridge."

"I think I like rescuers," said the first animal.

"So does GOD," was the reply.

Author Unknown

A Dog Named Beau by Jimmy Stewart

A sad but sweet peom by Jimmy Stewart. He really captures the emotional qualities of having a dog soul mate and the loss when they are gone.



The Happy Dog's Bedtime Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep,
The queen-size bed is soft and deep.
I sleep right in the center groove
My human being can hardly move!

I've trapped her legs,
she's tucked in tight,
And here is where I pass the night.
No one disturbs me or dares intrude
Till morning comes and I want food!

I sneak up slowly and it begins
My nibbles on my human's chin.
She wakes up slowly and smiles and shouts,
"You darling beast! Just cut it out!"
But morning's here and it's time to play
I always seem to get my way.

So thank you, Lord, for giving me
This human person that I see
The one who hugs and holds me tight
and shares her bed with me at night!

- Author unknown

Just an Old Golden Retriever

I grew up in your average middle-class Jewish home where pets were not available. I never had a pet. There was a lot of plastic on the furniture. Basically, pets were considered dirty, unwanted things. Animals were not part of my experience, so I had no conscience about them.

I got married in 1968, and in 1970 I had a baby. When he was 18 months old, we were living in a bungalow colony in upstate New York while waiting for our home to be built. An elderly woman and her old golden retriever lived next door. I used to see them together when the woman was outside gardening. My son liked the dog, and she was a friendly animal, but that was all as far as I was concerned.

When the woman died, her relatives came up, and they emptied her house of her treasures, her clothing, anything they thought of value. They contacted a real estate agent who put out a " For Sale" sign on her property. Then they locked the dog out and drove away.

Because I had grown up with no conscience about animals, it didn't even cross my mind to say, "Wait a minute. Someone should be taking care of this dog" or "who is going to be responsible for her?" It just didn't. I was not responsible for the dog.

Some of the neighbors mentioned that they would feed her occasionally, but the dog mostly stayed near the house where she had lived, where her owner had died. When the dog would come over to play with my son, Adam, he would feed her cookies; once in a while I would give her some leftovers.

One afternoon I went to get Adam, who had been outside playing in our yard - a safe, level grassy area - and he was gone. Just gone. I was frantic. I looked for him, and then neighbors helped me look for him. We called the police. For three hours the police looked for him, then they called the state police.

The state police brought in helicopters. My husband rushed home from the city. I was hysterical. We could not find Adam. We didn't know if he had been abducted. We didn't know if he were alive. We could not find him. The search had been going on for six hours when a neighbor, who had just returned home, said,"Where's Brandy?"

Brandy? The dog? Why was he asking about the dog? Someone else said, "Maybe she's with Adam."

What did I know about animals? I said, "Why would she be with Adam? What does that mean?"

One of the troopers recalled that he had heard a dog barking deep in the woods when they were doing the foot search. And suddenly everybody started to yell "Brandy!" including me.

We heard faint barking and followed the sound.

We found my 18-month-old son, standing up, fast asleep, pressed against the trunk of a tree. Brandy was holding him there with one shoulder. One of her legs was hanging over a 35-foot drop to a stream below.

Brandy must have followed Adam when he wandered off, just as a dog will with a child, and she saw danger. She was a better mother than I; she had pushed him out of harm's way and held him there. This was an old dog. Adam was an 18-month-old child. He struggled, I'm sure, but she had held him there for all those hours. When I picked him up, she collapsed.

As the trooper carried my son back home, I, sobbing with relief, carried Brandy. I knew in that instant that she was coming home with me, too. Brandy spent the rest of her life with us, and I loved her completely; she lived to be 17 years old.

From then on, I made it a point to learn everything I could about animals. My focus at the time was old golden retrievers. Obviously, I thought they were the smartest, the best, and there was nothing like them. I started the first golden retriever rescue and have had as many as 35 of them in the house at a time, and it mushroomed from there.

Because of Brandy, I have a calling. I have a reason to get up in the morning. Because of Brandy, thousands of unwanted animals have been given safe lives.

I can't save them all, but I can make a difference.

We now have 300 animals. All kinds, including birds and pot-bellied pigs and are a well-recognized humane animal sanctuary. We take the animals that other shelters won't take. The ones my mother would have said were dirty; the old ones who are incontinent, the blind, the ugly ones; they're all beautiful to me.

So many organizations feel it's easier to euthanize these animals. I don't agree. How could I? If someone had put an abandoned 11-year-old golden retriever to sleep 29 years ago, I would not have a child. I wouldn't have a son who is the light of my life.

~ The author is Sara Whalen © 2003 who established the animal shelter "Pets Alive" Middletown, New York. For her website, please click where her animal friends can be visited and donations can be made ~

Just A Dog

From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog," or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog." Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog." Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise." "Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. "Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person. Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. "Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a man/woman." So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog", just smile, because they "just don't understand."

-Author Unknown

Dog Heaven: A Cute Story

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. Beyond the wall, at the top of a long hill, was a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"

"This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked.

"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.

"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the man. "Do you have any water?"

"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in."

"How a bout my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog.

"There should be a bowl by the pump."

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.

"This is Heaven," he answered.

"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's Hell."

"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"

"No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind."

Dear Dogs

Dear Dogs,

When I say to move, it means to go someplace else, not to switch positions with each other so there are still two of you in the way.

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years--canine attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

Rules for Non-Pet Owners Who Visit and Like to Complain About Our Pets:

1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.
(That's why they call it "fur"niture.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly. Dogs and cats are better than kids ...they eat less, don't ask for money all the time, are easier to train, usually come when called, never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't smoke or drink, don't worry about having to buy the latest fashions, don't wear your clothes, and don't need a gazillion dollars for college - and if they get pregnant, you can sell the children.

Dear God...

This is one of the kindest things you may ever see.

It is not known who replied, but there is a beautiful soul working in the dead letter office of the US postal service.

Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.' Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven.

Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you.

I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much.

By the way, I'm easy to find, I am wherever there is love.



Your Dog Died Today

I thought you might want to know. I understand you put her on the street back in September, October? She was ancient and deaf, with infected teeth and weakening hind quarters. She was a Labradoodle, though, so you probably paid a good sum for her 15+ years ago. Maybe you loved her too much to put her down. So you put her out.

I don’t know you, and I try not to judge. Maybe you were overwhelmed, with six kids or something. Maybe you are ill, yourself. Maybe you’ve lost your home and your job and didn’t have the money to put her down. I don’t know. I only know this sick old designer dog was found on the streets with no collar or microchip. And she’d been on the streets quite a while. She looked like Chewbacca.

Here’s the thing. My 12-year-old Lab mix died in November. He went downhill very quickly (renal failure), and after a couple of expensive days at the vet’s, I helped him out of this earthly plane. He was so loved, he had human friends who left work to come hug and kiss him and give him scratches. I was devastated, of course. As I told people at the time, it was a terrible day, followed by a difficult week, followed by a lifetime of memories. And then I had a lot of old-dog supplements left over. I thought my Jasper (which means “bringer of treasure,” and he did) would like me to help another old dog, if I could, so I went down to the shelter. And I found… yours.

The shelter didn’t even want to release her to me, which I can understand. There were so many other dogs there, all younger and healthier. I have her cage card with “Pls PTS poor dog” on it. (PTS being Put To Sleep.) She was at least fifteen pounds underweight and seemed either blind or deaf or both, and she didn’t wag her tail once.

I am no hero. I was ambivalent about springing her, myself. Anyone would have been. But I have had some tough times in my life, and been very depressed and underweight and looked matted and broken, myself. And no family pet deserves to die emaciated and alone. A couple of animal rescue groups got a hold of me and offered a discounted grooming and teeth cleaning, if I would just give her a home. Those people can be very convincing and also a little scary. If they ever join the Taliban, we’ll all be in really big trouble. I wasn’t exactly up for a project, but I was so tired of feeling alone every day. So I brought your dog home. After she was shaved, she weighed 39 pounds. She was all ribs and age spots. I thought she might last a week.

That was four and a half months ago. She had a couple of tooth extractions, again thanks to those amazing Taliban types, and then she could eat again. Both ear infections cleared up with a round of antibiotics, but she never regained her hearing. I wish I’d gotten her some of the rubber-grip booties they have for old dogs, since my wood floors could be a challenge for her, but I didn’t know about those until today. She would find herself sprawled out on the floor, like Bambi on the ice, a couple of times a week. Falling didn’t seem to faze her, though. She was a great role model that way.

She didn’t even make eye contact with me for the first couple of months, but then she sought me out every minute, and was never not in the same room as I was. Not even when I tried to sneak to the bathroom when she was asleep. She’d always sense my absence, and come find me.

I named her Freya, after the Norse goddess of love, beauty, gold, fertility, war, and magic. I thought she deserved just about everything, after what she’d been through.

She was a beautiful, beautiful dog. She was sweet and so gentle with the kids in the neighborhood. She loved her food and our walks and my bed. She would slowly bunny hop up the steps I made for her and stagger across the comforter and sink in a happy heap. She slept most of the time, of course. Ate and slept. But she’d shoot after a cat in an instant. And she’d perk right up when I came home and lay a gentle hand on her to let her know I was back. We’d go outside and she’d spin in happy circles. It made me laugh and laugh.

I know you loved her. Imagine my surprise when I discovered she’d been taught to shake hands for a treat. With both paws. That must have taken you quite a while, that training.

Anyway. Freya panted a lot the past few days. It was hot, but not that hot, especially at night. Then, today, she couldn’t get up without help. Or poop. It was pretty clear that her body was finished. I looked into her eyes, and she gave me permission. “Thank you for saving my dignity,” she said. “Now I am done.”

I am happy to report that I had trouble loading her into the car by myself. When I first brought her home, it was a cinch. But then she gained about a pound a week after coming here. And she still looked a little thin, to some people. She helped me at the vet’s place. She walked in, then collapsed on the waiting room floor.

It’s not hard, at all, the euthanasia. Having put down two dogs in six months, I can tell you. The event itself is painless, and I wish with all my heart that it was available to humans. I say this as someone with a 86-year-old stroke victim father strapped to wheelchair in a nursing home 2000 miles away. But I know it’s a slippery legal slope. Still, I’m here to tell you that the event itself is actually pretty wonderful. To put someone you love who will never get better out of pain is a great gift and a blessing. Freya’s last breath seemed to me a final sigh of relief. She had my hand on her shoulder and my lips to her nose. I cried, of course. We always cry. But I felt a great weight lift, when I saw her, so peaceful and beautiful there. I trimmed some of her hair to keep. Those wonderfully soft tight curls on her chest. I’m sure you remember the ones that I mean.

Anyway. I just thought you might want to know. Your dog died today.


Medina On-Line
Since 1994