Beverly Crosses the Rainbow Bridge

December, 2007

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of all its beautiful colors.
Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,
hills and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.
There is always food and water and warm spring weather.
The old and frail animals are young again.
Those who were sick, hurt or in pain are made whole again.
There is only one thing missing,
they are not with their special person who loved them so much on earth.
So each day they run and play until the day comes
when one suddenly stops playing and looks up!
The nose twitches! The ears are up!
The eyes are staring and this one runs from the group!
You have been seen and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him in your arms and hug him.
He licks and kisses your face again and again –
and you look once more into the eyes of your best friend and trusting pet.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together never again to be apart.

Beverly and Kismet Playing

 

This is not a story about the death of a dog. It’s a story of her courage and devotion. The details of her illness are, most emphatically, not what I wish to conveybut they are important. Beverly had started looking a little bony in her hips and shoulders. It wasn’t terribly unusual. After all, she was eleven years old. In response, I increased her food a little. As I lay on the floor one night Beverly came over and I scratched her belly. I remember noticing that she looked a little like she was getting a beer belly or the canine equivalent. A few days later we became alarmed at how distended her belly had become. We took her to the vet who did x-rays and blood tests. All he could tell us was that her abdomen was full of fluid but he didn’t know what it was or where it was coming from. He sent her home with diuretics.

These helped for a couple of days but soon her belly was even more distended than ever. We took her to another vet. He took one look at her and tapped her abdomen with a syringe. He found blood. Diagnosing a splenic tumor he did surgery on her within the hour. He removed a huge hemoragic tumor which had cut her spleen in half. From what the vet said he had not expected her to live through the surgery. She lost a lot of blood due to the type and location of the tumor.

The old girl made it through the surgery and we brought her home the next night looking like she had lost about fifteen pounds. She recovered well over the next week and felt good enough by Sunday to follow us around as we worked in the woods most of the day.

On Monday she seemed a little tired but we figured it was because of her exertions of the day before. By Tuesday we knew she was in trouble again. We took her back to the vet. He found free blood in her abdomen again and went back in. It turns out that she had many hemoragic tumors in her abdomen and there was nothing we could do. The vet gave her quite a bit of blood and, heartsick, we brought her home. Beverly was going to die. The only question was whether she would slowly bleed to death or if one of the tumors was going to cut a major blood vessel and she’d drop dead on the spot. The vet assured us that there would be no pain involved in either of these outcomes.

I took Thursday and Friday off work and stayed home with Beverly. They were glorious days. Beverly slept in the sun in the living room. I wrote some and downloaded and organized Christmas music on my computer. I played some of the music and laid on the floor with Beverly. I talked to her and sang along with some of the songs. At midday I took Kismet and Sirius Black for a long walk. Each evening, when Jim returned from work he noted that Beverly looked pretty good considering what was going on. He said he thought it was because I was staying home with her. Beverly had never made the transition to being Jim’s dog the way Quoddy had when she retired. Beverly remained firmly devoted to me and pined when I went out of town or spent the night away from home.

As Friday progressed it became clear that Beverly was doing better than anyone expected. Regretfully, but with no hesitation, I canceled my weekend plans which would have taken me out of town. I wanted to stay with Beverly.

Saturday and Sunday were two more sunlit days of peace. Beverly spent most of both days outside playing with the other dogs when she was able and lying in the sun when she became tired. Sunday afternoon Jim and I went out to the woodshed to cut and split firewood. The woodshed is about fifty yards from the house. To my surprise Beverly followed us. I went quickly back to the house and brought a bed out for her. Sometimes she would lie on the bed and others she’d come sniffing around looking for a stick to chew on. Beverly always loved having a stick. We gave them to her whenever she seemed like she was looking for one. At one point she actually growled at Kismet when Kismet tried to take her stick away. Way to go Bev.

We knew that Sunday was Beverly’s last day. She had been bleeding slowly from her inscision for five days. She would only become weaker and weaker as she continued to lose blood. We agreed that we should take her into town for that last vet visit on Sunday afternoon. We would leave home at around 3:00. Around 2:30 we decided to take the ATV down to the field below our house. We put Kismet in the house so that she wouldn’t follow us. We left Beverly lying in the sun near the greenhouse, certain that she wouldn’t follow us.

Our house sits halfway up a hill. The property is very steep between the house and the road. When we drove the ATV into the field something on the other side of the creek caught Jim’s attention. He got out to investigate. I heard rustling leaves directly up the steep incline from where I sat on the ATV. I thought I had to be dreaming. When I heard it again I asked Jim if that was what I thought it was. Yes, it was. Beverly, hearing our voices and seeing us down in the field was trying to get to us by the most direct route. She came through the thick woods, straight down the ridiculously steep hill, across the creek, and up the opposite bank to where I stood in astonishment. I sat down in the grass and held this amazing creature to me. Though close to crossing the rainbow bridge Beverly had summoned up her courage and strength and made her way through the woods to be with me.

What we humans do to deserve the love and devotion given us by our canine companions is a mystery. One thing I have learned though is that we can learn a lot about devotion, courage, and physical endurance from these people called dogs.