The Rainbow Bridge


photo by Colin Pittman

For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you will recall that one of my “perks of having cancer” was coming to appreciate my dog, Patches.  Before getting cancer, I just saw Patches as another little being who needed taking care of in my home; more work for an already over-worked single mom!  I loved her, of course, but I just did not fully appreciate having her in my life.

When I was going through my cancer treatments however, I came to see Patches in a whole new light.  I realized that she was not just TAKING my time and attention, she was GIVING so much back to me!  While I had a great support team who came and went to help cook, clean and take care of the kids, Patches was the one constant in my life.  When everyone else had gone home for the night, Patches was always there beside me on my bed.   Many nights I would cry into her fur those tears that I fought so hard to hide from my loved ones during the day.   On the days that I was too sick to get out of bed, she never left my side.   As I drifted in and out of my post-chemo daze, I could always depend on seeing  her big brown eyes gazing at me when I woke up.

When Patches developed a cough a few weeks ago, I immediately became concerned.  I feared that she might have pneumonia which could be fatal to a dog her age (10 years old).   I wanted to get some medications to help her recover as quickly as possible, so I rushed her off to the vet.  After taking a chest x-ray, the doctor presented me with the diagnosis, which came as a complete shock: lung cancer.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.   It broke my heart to think that while Patches was cheering me through my cancer journey last year, the ugly beast was growing in her little chest.

The vet prescribed some medications to help with the cough, but was doubtful that it would change her prognosis.   I remained hopeful however, since her cough did seem to clear up somewhat soon after she started taking the pills.  But when she went back for more x-rays last week, it was worse than I had feared.   The tumor was growing so rapidly that it would only be a matter of weeks before it took her life.   I had a difficult decision to make.

What were my choices?  I could let her live out the rest of her life and watch her slowly choke to death from the disease.   Or I could have her put peacefully to sleep and bring an end to her suffering.   Even though her cough had lessened, I knew by the moans she made at night that she was in pain.  I prayed for guidance, and then booked the appointment to have her put to sleep.

For me, one of the most difficult parts of having cancer was the waiting: waiting for test results, waiting for treatments, waiting for surgery……..always waiting and wondering.   The four days of waiting after setting up the appointment to have Patches euthanized were torturous.   So many times I questioned whether I was doing the right thing.   She was there for me through my cancer experience, shouldn’t I also be there for her and see her through to the end?   I don’t know whether my decision was a selfish one but I could not do it.  I could not sit by and helplessly watch cancer take her life.  I went through with the appointment.

Mom was by my side and we both cried quietly as the needle was injected into her front paw.   Seconds later as I looked into her big brown eyes for the last time, I saw them glaze over.  Patches had gone to the rainbow bridge.


The Rainbow Bridge

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,

Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.

Where the friends of man and woman do run,

When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,

Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.

On this golden land, they wait and they play,

Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,

For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.

Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,

Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,

Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.

All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,

Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;

Together again, both person and pet.

So they run to each other, these friends from long past,

The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,

Has turned into joy once more in each heart.

They embrace with a love that will last forever,

And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

(Author Unknown)

20 thoughts on “The Rainbow Bridge

  1. Patches will continue to lie by your side, in times when you need him. This was one of the most beautiful heartwarming blogs I’ve ever read. God Bless Patches.

  2. Oh my dear Flo…

    I am sorry for the loss of your beloved Patches who brought such solace to you.

    Reading through your beautiful writing and touching poem – the tears are just flowing down my face.

    You are one of the strongest women I have had the chance to befriend

    You showed such love for our Patches by allowing him to pass in your presence long before he suffered

    Enjoy every minute of your weekend in Halifax

    And hope to see you soon,

    Kathy-Sig Kathy-Sig2

  3. Oh Flo! I’m so sorry. Losing a beloved pet is so very hard. You did the right thing, though, by not allowing her to suffer. Cancer takes so much from us–including our faithful companions.

  4. So sorry Florence.I know what it’s like .We had to put our Golden Lab to sleep last March.It was so hard,but she had cancer too.I still fe,
    el her presence .
    Take care

  5. Oh, Florence! I am so sorry for your loss!! This just breaks my heart. You did the most loving thing you could for Patches. What a blessing that she was with you through your treatments and you have those memories to hold close forever.

  6. Oh man. I’m choking back tears. I’m so very sorry. As I have my 2 cats who bring so much joy to my life and a third my nephews and I just rescued from the orchards and coyotes near my house. Sending you comfort and peace.

  7. I had a healing hybrid wolf German Shepherd dog called Josie. Josie was a wonderful companion and healer throughout my breast cancer, and subsequent metastasis to my liver and lungs, She developed tumours in her breasts, and like you, the decision to ease her passing was so difficult. The vet, St Francis of Assisi and I kept her going until her time came. Still she refused to leave me, after two hours of trying to anaesthetise her paw, I covered her head gently with a towel, telling her to close her eyes and let go. I asked her to imagine us on our long beach walks together, and that I would be fine, and she would always be with me. Eventually, she gave in and slipped into a deep sleep.

    Shortly after, her daughter Jessica also developed similar tumours. She passed peacefully in her sleep, under my bed just a few weeks ago. How much they both loved me, and how grateful I am to them for their devotion. With love and light to you and all our animals who crossed that Rainbow Bridge. Christina Hatt xx

  8. Tears flowing now….. After losing our dog Candy of 16 years, i know exactly how you feel about losing Patches. The joy and comfort that they bring into our lives is immeasurable. Their love and loyalty that they give has no limits. She knew she was loved also. So sorry Florence. Take care.

  9. Ahh sis. Such a difficult decision but one that you made with Patches in mind. You put her first and that speaks volumes for how much you loved her. I know how it feels to lose a beloved pet and it isn’t easy. Stay strong and you can be sure that Patches is up with her cat cousins playing at Rainbow Bridge.

  10. dear flo

    each night when you go to sleep, pat the bed at the place patches slept along side you, and say, c,mon boy, come lay down with me. in your heart or talking out loud you can recount how grateful you are to have such a sweet boy, how much he helps you, makes you smile, and what a good boy he has always been. ask him to keep watch over you, and tell him it feels so comforting having him near. he doesn’t want you to feel that he has left you – he’s right there, and he knows the inner glow of deep love you feel for him because that is what he feels for you. all he needs is right inside of your heart – love, love, love.

    warm hugs to you for this beautiful post, and for sharing such a heartwrenching time in your life. i wish you comfort and joyful memories of your sweet patches.

    love, XOXO,

    karen, TC

  11. Sobbing and bawling here. So sorry to hear of Patches passing. She was indeed a source of comfort and strength to you when you needed her and in the end you were her source of comfort and strength. You did the right thing even tho’ it was a painful decision. The love you had for that sweet lil dog will always remain with you. We think of you all often and Jess misses you all so much. Take care.

  12. I just discovered your blog and I am so glad I did. I too had a faithful companion during my bought with cancer. My dog Sport never left my side during my six months of treatment. I too made the difficult but most humane choice to let him go when it was time. I thanked him for all he had done for me and told him how much I loved him as he closed his eyes and went to sleep. We are so blessed to have had such faithful friends as they were blessed to have such loving companions. The Superman strength that comes from having cancer is one of the top perks for me. Be well.

  13. Florence, I just read what you wrote about Patches. I am so very sorry. Our pets are not just that, they are our friends. They are part of our families.Most times they act like one of the youngsters.
    When we lost dear Rudy, we got another lab we called Hunter. When I looked into his eyes when we first brought him home, I knew that we would probably only have him for 10 or 12 years, which is really not that long. It has already been three. Where the time goes, I don’t know. I just decided that we will make it the best we can. They give so much and ask for so little in return.
    We have had a number of dogs over the years. I just hope that when we all get together on the other side that dog food is cheap.
    God bless you, Florence.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    God bless
    Rita Siscoe

  14. Your story about Patches broke my heart Flo. I’m so sorry that you lost him just when you needed him most. I’m sure it was heart-wrenching to put him to sleep, but I think it was a kind decision. I still can’t get over the trials you’ve been through girl. You are one tough cookie! Celeste:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s