Paws and Claws

The ‘Rainbow Bridge’ for pets comforts owners

by Cindy Anderson, DVM

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of several works of poetry written in the 1980s and 1990s that speak of an otherworldly place where pets go upon death.

The story tells of a lush green meadow just “this side of heaven.” According to the story, when a pet dies, it goes to the meadow, restored to perfect health, and free of any injuries. The pet runs and plays all day with the others. There always is fresh food and water available and the sun always is shining.

When the owner dies he or she arrives at the meadow, and that is when the pet stops playing, turns, sniffs at the air and looks into the distance where it sees its beloved owner. The pet greets its former owner in great joy and then they cross the Rainbow Bridge together into heaven, never be separated again.

The original writer of the poem is uncertain. At present, there are four contenders for development of the work.

  • Edna Clyne-Reky, an artist and author in Scotland, wrote the poem in the mid-’70s for her son upon the loss of her dog. Her son put the poem on the internet in later life. It is believed she is the original author.
  • – Paul C. Dahm, a grief counselor in Oregon, is said to have written the poem in 1981 and published it in a 1998 book of the same name.
  • William N. Britton, author of  “Legend of Rainbow Bridge,” in 1994.
  • Wallace Sife, head of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, whose poem “All Pets Go to Heaven” appears on the association’s website, as well as in his book “The Loss of a Pet.”

Saying good-bye to a furry friend is never easy. The love and joy pets bring into our lives is immense, so the emptiness that we feel in our hearts after they have passed can be heavy.

Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day is a day devoted to remembering our pets that are no longer with us. The day was created by author Deborah Barnes after she lost her cat Mr. Jazz. She founded it as a way for people to share memories of their pets that had passed on. For many of us, having a way to remember our pets is important.

Please feel free to contact me, Dr. Cindy Anderson, or the staff at Lakelands Trail Veterinary 517-655-5551, for any help with your pet questions.

Cindy Anderson, DVM

Cindy Anderson, DVM,  is a graduate of MSU Veterinary College (1992) and has practiced veterinary medicine for over 28 years.








Rainbow Bridge
Author Unknown

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…