Why do we say our pets 'cross the rainbow bridge' when they die?
It's normal to want to tell your family and friends about your precious pet's loss on Facebook or Instagram, but have you ever noticed that we all say something along the lines of, They've passed (or gone over) the rainbow bridge?
It's safe to assume that the "rainbow bridge" goes to some kind of canine and feline nirvana, where dogs can chase squirrels and pee and crap anywhere they want, and cats can lounge in the sun all day, but it got us thinking where the word came from.
It's kind of ironic that we all post about our beloved pets "crossing the rainbow bridge" when we have no idea where or what the "rainbow bridge" is.
This is something I'm also prone to.
Everyone in my family wrote that our lovely Maggie "passed over the rainbow bridge" after she died approximately five years ago, even though I had no idea where the phrase came from.
Obviously, I needed to do some research.
Fortunately, the internet is a terrific place to type in questions like this one, and I was able to find some useful information.
The term, it turns out, derives from a poem that was published in one of those popular "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books in the 1990s.
Is there anyone else who recalls those books? They were typically collections of short stories, poems, and articles targeted at a specific demographic. "Chicken Soup for the Mom Soul" or "Chicken Soup for the Athlete Soul," or something along those lines.
I recall having a book called Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul, which was full of stories about preteens dealing with all of the issues that preteens face between the ages of 11 and 13. I don't recall ever being moved by it, but it could have worked for other sensitive adolescent minds.
According to a Washington Post article, the "Rainbow Bridge" was inspired by a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book for animal lovers.
According to the Washington Post, there is some disagreement over who composed the poem.
It's usually attributed to an unknown creator, but three persons have claimed credit for authoring it, with one man, Paul C. Dahm, claiming copyright for a variant.
The Rainbow Bridge poem itself is rather lovely.
It tells us that our pets are having the fun of their lives, sprinting across meadows and soaking up as much food, water, and sunlight as they can.
They'll be waiting for us when we arrive, and then we'll cross the rainbow bridge with our beloved pets.
If you have a pet (or have had one in the past), you will be moved to tears as you read the poem. It's quite moving, and it'll make you want to cuddle your dog right away.
It's become a money-making machine for pet owners who wish to honor their animal in some way, in addition to being a comforting poetry. A brief Google search for the poem reveals a variety of options for purchasing it, either as a print or inscribed on an urn.