We all began together eight years ago. We met in a place called Doggyspace, which isn’t there anymore. We were young. Our lives were ahead of us with unlimited possibilities. And we had online friends to share our stories with, and learn.
I came to Rainbow Bridge more than three years ago. Many of those original Doggyspace friends were already here. Since I arrived here more friends have joined me. I know in the next five to ten years all the originals will be here. But our parents and friends will still have dogs bringing them joy and making the world continue to spin.
This week our wonderful original friend Sandy joined us. Sandy’s call to the Bridge came slowly over a long period, and then suddenly, and unexpectedly. On Thursday Sandy, despite his many physical problems, went to the groomers and looked beautiful.
Later that day he could not walk or stand. Sandy had fought for so long to stay with his mom. Despite having four other siblings Sandy knew that he and his mom had a special bond. He was her heart dog, who saw her through great sorrow and tragedy. The perfect match of dog and mom. Sandy swore he could withstand any pain to be with his mom. But his mom and his dad knew he was in pain, and they didn’t want him to live without a single comfortable moment. On Saturday, a little after noontime, Sandy arrived at Rainbow Bridge.
There were at least a hundred dogs awaiting him. Every dog he had ever met online or in person, everyone who was a friend of his mom, online or on land, were there. When Sandy got off Enzo’s escalator he was moving tentatively. With each step he realized that the pain was gone, he was steady on his feet, and his muscles were young and strong. By the time he reached us he was running the way he used to run in his backyard.
He repeated the Rainbow Pledge for me and then he ran to his brother Bo. It had been years since they had seen one another. Sandy was the young, active, playful dog when Bo went to the Bridge. Now Sandy understood what his brother had gone through. They agreed that getting older was hell.
Then a man came forward wearing a uniform. Sandy didn’t recognize him. Bo whispered in his ear. “Uncle Max?” Sandy said stunned. Sandy had never seen him standing. Uncle Max, his mother’s brother, came to live with them at the end of his life. He was a veteran, and had served in Vietnam. His mother and Max had grown estranged but found one another again. But they didn’t have enough time. Max picked up a ball and threw it for Sandy. Our friend was surprised to see his Uncle Max running with him, and they both laughed chasing the ball.
A thin woman picked up the ball, then bent down and rubbed Sandy’s head. “Hello Sandy, it is a pleasure to meet you. I am your mom’s friend Vicki Tankersly. We promised whichever one of us got here first, we would look after the other’s dogs. So I will always be available if you want to stay at my house or play with Blazer.” She gave Sandy a kiss and threw the ball for him. Sandy’s Uncle Max ran with him, got to the ball first, and tossed it back to Vicki as Sandy, joined by Bo, happily chased the ball back and forth.
I left him there. I knew Bo would teach him how to watch over his mom, how to visit her in her dreams, in other shapes, and even as an unseen ghost. All that would come in time. As for now it was wonderful to see my friend running like a pup again.
I hope the picture of Sandy, Bo and Max playing together will give Sandy’s mom a smile.
When you lose your heart dog smiles are few and far between and precious.
Just as dogs like Sandy are.