I know some of you are feeling sad for me right now, thinking I have lost my mind...BUT, it's true. I've been there. Rainbow Bridge is a REAL bridge in Utah. It is accessible from Lake Powell, and I once visited and stayed in the region at Wahweap. I walked the foot paths and climbed the rocks nearby.
This particular monument is very important to the Navajo Nation, Hopi, San Juan Southern Paiute, Kaibab Paiute, and White Mesa Ute Native Americans. It is a religious and sacred place, to be visited in a respectful manner. You can read more about it HERE.
I can bet you a gazillion nickels, that if you have a pet, and if you've lost a pet, you have heard of it.
And this is where I sigh, stare at the screen and stop typing...waiting for some divine intervention to help me put into words exactly how I feel about this concept.
Cleo, Muffin, Emma, TD, Oggie, Church, Gus (cats). Chelsea, Phillie, Sandy, Ollie, Ike, Daisy, Winston, Burton, Bethy, Moe (dogs). Gifford, Emmett, Petey, Pharaoh, Parker (horses). Screech, Penn, Eugene (roosters). Basmati, Carolina, Jasmine, Freckles, Henny, Penny, Goldie, Penelope, Ivy (hens).
These are the ones who left our world well-loved and respected. Some much too quickly, and others had lengthy life spans.
We have experienced a lot of pet loss in our lives. Mostly because we choose to rescue, and over the years we have had more than one, okay more than two....well alright, more than five pets at any given time.
I believe that the Rainbow Bridge is a HOPE. I also believe it is the LAST BRIDGE in a series of bridges we have already left in the dust, and that the one before it (the next to the last bridge) is the HARDEST BRIDGE TO CROSS.
That next to last bridge we sometimes have control over, and sometimes we don't. Sometimes, the road workers put up their one lane signs, and the flag men come out and tell you: "this right here is the way you have to go." Other times no one guides you, and you have to hope beyond hope you are following the right path.
A dog who is fine one day, and can't move the next day because a tumor has burst somewhere important, is an example of lane signs and flag men. A dog whose overall health prognosis is not good, due to a disease that will take some time to remove that dog from your life, and who comes home for palliative care--that's an example of choosing the path.
Bridges. One by one. In the dust.
Until we come to the timing of crossing the next to last bridge--THE DECISION we (as responsible pet owners) need to make--we are in a sort of expectant limbo. The final bridge, being the act itself--euthanasia--is where the Rainbow Bridge comes into play.
Did we wait too long to cross the next to last bridge? Or despite how hard it is to cross, did we cross it timely and respectfully?
A Different Approach
I once encountered a person who I credit with giving me a path that has now become the main path I choose when it comes to our pets. The CELEBRATE LIFE path.
Making those moments count for a pet should be how we approach whatever comes our way. Continuing on with life, despite a diagnosis that leads to bridges that need to be crossed, is really what our animals want us to do. Car rides, park visits, walks in the woods--if the ability is there, then so be it.
I do believe that animals are sentient beings and transition to spirit. Where they go, I am unsure, but I like to think they stay close by.
When we lose one of our dearly loved animals, my catharsis comes from the documentation of their lives in photographs. I can never have enough. There are many we have never shared beyond our house.
But, I also write a tribute to each animal, in celebration of the life they shared with us, and in remembrance of who they were personality-wise. This can come in the form of a blog post, a journal entry, or a poem.
Below is my tribute to our dog, Ollie.
There is no doubt that I miss every single animal that has left our care, but I will never stop being thankful that they were a part of our lives.
Looks like divine intervention may have worked.
Click Into the Circle
I am part of a weekly blogging group of professional pet photographers located all over the planet. To see what others have blogged about in this week's topic, start here with MA and NH dog photographer Darlene Woodward of Pant the Town Photography as she shares her story of saying goodbye, out of love to her best "fur" friend of eleven years, Kota.
Then find the link at the end of each blog to click on to the next photographer.
While this week may not be an easy read as you go through the blogs, sharing our experiences and thoughts on pet loss is something we all need to do. I hope you remember and celebrate the life of a pet you have lost, and give those still with you a big hug!