Jay Rifenbary

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Companionship - A Visit to Rainbow Bridge

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As the injection was being administered this past Wednesday morning I was holding her head softly, kissing her fur-coated neck. At that moment I never realized how much I loved and would miss Adidas, our beloved dog of 14 years. As I hugged her gently, I felt her heart stop, and witnessed her head drop as the medication took effect. My tears became streams of emotion and remembrance. With my head buried in her nape, I thanked her for her spirit, love and companionship she shared with my family and myself over these many years. During the course of her four legged life she had given us so much and had taken so little. No animosity, greed, self-centeredness, envy, jealousy, bitterness, anger, bigotry, ego, nor any other human deficiency did she ever demonstrate, only the selfless love a dog can share. A definition of companionship is, “one of a pair of things intended to complement or match each other.” Anyone who has ever had an animal companion understands how perfect this definition is. It is a subtle emotional relationship that is unique, loving and never broken. Although they are not children, our pets are an extension of our family, and provide an element of belonging and togetherness that unifies what it means to be a family even further. As we shared the news of her death with family, my nephew shared a note, which stated, “All dogs go to heaven”. I have no doubt.

A friend of mine made me aware of Rainbow Bridge, a place I had never heard of before, but I look forward to crossing it with Adidas some day in the future. She shared the following, “Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. 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 deeply 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……”

Another friend shared with me a poem she had written, that I am sure anyone who has lost or will lose the friendship of a pet will relate too, and forever hold this poem dear in their heart. “In Memory of Adidas” – “I lost a special friend today, the kind you can’t replace, and looking at her empty bed, I still can see her face. We shared life’s many journeys for precious memories do not die. With one last kiss upon her head I told my best friend goodbye. God welcomed her to a special place, designed for life’s loyal friends, where she’s running through fields of flowers, healthy and whole again. I know she’s watching over me, she’s beside me when I cry. Each tear a happy memory sent, from her new home just beyond the sky.” Let us all extend a breath of selfless companionship and loyalty to those we love. As a grown man, it was unexpected, yet invigorating to feel an innocent love be revealed by the nature of an animal who loved me for just being me. It also provided me further validation of what is most important in life, for it is not what we possess, but rather whom we love that is everlasting. Give those you love an extra tight hug tonight, human and pet alike. My animal companion is running, jumping, swimming and once again the queen of the lake. Rest in peace a precious piece of my heart.



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