The Rainbow BridgeWhen I was a child, some of the most devastating emotional pain I ever endured was caused by the death of a companion animal. After the death of a dog I loved deeply I was so anguished that I refused to ever again to "own" a dog, and I haven't...that's a long time ago and I simply can't bring myself to enter into such a relationship again. Now I am (accidentally) involved with a dog who lives with other family members...I call her my "granddog" and I love her terribly but am hopeful that my life will end before she reaches her final days.
Just this side of the final home for spirits is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that animal 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. Her bright eyes are intent; Her eager body quivers. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her wings or legs carrying her 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 companion(s), so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.
Just to be clear, having a relationship of great importance is not restricted to any particular form of Earthling. One of the most painful losses I have ever gone through as an adult happened because of the death of a wonderful parakeet that lived with me. She was an exquisite being and I loved her so very much and miss her still and always will.
I remember thinking when a child that I hoped being dead would include the happy circumstance of being reunited with those animals that were so very much loved by me. If that were to be true being dead would be a happy thing. I had never heard of any story like the Rainbow Bridge but I had my own private version of something similar.
While looking around at versions of the Rainbow Bridge I ran across something called the Rainbow Bridge Rescuer. Here it is:
The Rainbow Bridge RescuerI can never read this version without being overwhelmed. The terrible truth is that many many of the animals that are rescued never end up with a forever family. The fact is that most shelters (and it truly is a shelter only if provision is made for the rescued animal living there forever if need be) are always at or over capacity. Adoptions do occur but those needing forever families are in great excess of those that do find forever families.
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 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.
"That was a rescuer. The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of their efforts. 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...You see, all animals are special to them...just as they are special to all animals."
A rescue can provide shelter, a rescue can provide food, a rescue can provide medical care, a rescue can pretty much cover the gamut of physical needs but it is almost impossible for rescuers to fully provide for the emotional needs of those in their care. Almost nothing can equal the opportunity for individual attention and caring that can occur for a companion animal (fin, fur, feather or skin) in a human family.
The key element missing is not caring...the caring is there, the key element in too short of supply is time. The expression of caring requires time (and patience), spending one-on-one time with a particular animal offers the opportunity for that animal to develop and explore and grow in a caring and safe environment. And sadly, many many of those rescued will be shortchanged. Not because the rescuers or workers or volunteers don't care, they do care and care deeply. No, it is because of a lack of time.
For example, I volunteer at a rabbit rescue. The warren I work in has around 70 bunnies. Let's say there are 4 people (and that is an exaggeration) spending 16 hours (hypothetically) each day with the bunnies. That means there are 64 human hours available each day for 70 bunnies, that's less than 1 hour per bunny...and in that hour, in addition to emotional needs, food, water, bedding, grooming and medical needs have to be attended to. Do the math, the time is just not there for each bunny to get what they need in terms of being able to be appreciated and enjoyed and encouraged in their individuality and their self-hood. (And by the way, the 64 human hours available each day is a pipe-dream number...reality doesn't have near that daily number of available human hours.)
If they were wild, if they had not been interfered with by humans, if they could live in a rabbit culture and society...then...well, they could find their own niches and meet their own needs with those they chose to meet them with. They don't have that chance, nor do dogs, nor do cats, nor do hamsters and on and on. These are "domesticated" animals, interfered with by humans for many generations in ways that have resulted in their dependence on humans...there is no "wild" for them, no place they can go and just safely be a bunny. For better or worse they are stuck with forced and mandatory dependence on us human animals.
Now many of the bunnies are "bonded", that means they have another bunny they are paired up with (sometimes bonding occurs with groups of bunnies), that's great...that means they have a friend with them, someone to interact with, to groom, to squabble with (sometimes)....but that pair (or group), if in a shelter, get nothing like the time and attention and resources they could potentially get if they lived with a human family. It isn't possible...well, maybe it would be possible if there were an unlimited number of caring volunteers and financial resources...but that isn't the case.
Right now, where you live, there are rescue operations that are needful of your time. Time for a dog, time for a cat, time for a bunny, for a cow, for a chicken, for a parakeet, for a horse. Give it...we owe...we owe so terribly much.
And remember those rescuers, the biggest and bestest humans of all, those who give and give and give to the Earthlings we have all conspired to do wrong to...to deprive them of their birthright...to deprive them of their ability to live on their own as a child of the Earth. Those rescuers are the ones doing their best to right what is (maybe?) the greatest wrong ever.
And remember those Earthlings whose only crime was not being a human animal...who have had their right to their own life taken from them by us, for our convenience, for our entertainment, for our greed and profit, for our taste. Remember them and know how terribly we have cheated and harmed them...and in that doing...cheated and maybe irremediably harmed ourselves too.
Start paying back what we have stolen...volunteer at a rescue operation....adopt a homeless Earthling.
Stop adding to the horror (if you haven't already) by living as an ethical vegan. Please.