Preparing for the Rainbow Bridge

I heard the tell-tale “thump, thump, thump” and went downstairs to find our oldest black lab sprawled out at the bottom of the carpeted steps.  I helped him up, and with assistance he made it upstairs to his favorite daytime napping spot.  Kruger was diagnosed with lymphoma a couple of weeks ago.  He is on prednisone to help control the swelling, but the cancer continues to work its evil, and his body wastes away a little more with each day.  He still has a smile and tail wag for us, so we know it is not quite his time to cross the Rainbow Bridge, although we know that time is coming soon.

Happy black lab in snow

Kruger has only been part of our family for 15 months.  He was estimated to be 11 years old when we adopted him from our local humane society.  We swore with two large black labs already occupying the household, that bringing the number of dogs to three, particularly when the third was another large lab, was too many.  But, sometimes our four-legged friends have a way of worming themselves into our hearts and we find a way to make room for them in our homes.

Black lab tug-of-war

He was so sad after two different potential adopters returned him to the humane society  less than 24 hours after bringing him home.  Reportedly, he was not housebroken.  Despite suggestions by the adoption counselor that they give it a little time, letting him learn the ins and outs of his new home and routine, he was returned, and his time at the shelter approached four months.  After the second return, poor Kruger slipped into a funk, showing no interest in people who stopped by his kennel to say hello, and he lost interest in eating, as well.  The former happy-go-lucky lab who never met a tennis ball he didn’t like was in danger of letting depression overcome his will for living.

Kruger ready for a swim in his doggy lifejacket

We took him in, and in less than two weeks, after only a handful of housebreaking accidents later as he figured out the new routine, this gentle, old lab settled into the last home he would have.  He could be a stubborn old cuss, and we learned that arthritic body could really move when he wanted it to — like when I thought he was going to trot up to greet my son but instead bolted past the car, across busy streets, and through residential yards to reach the shores of Lake Superior, where a thin layer of ice had just formed,  reaching out 50 feet or so toward that icy, open water.

I should have kicked off my shoes that had a slight heel instead of trying to jog after him, but honestly, how could that old guy run so quickly and be so nimble?  He weaved in and out of spots where I had to slow to follow, and then managed to negotiate the icy rocks on the shore that caused me to slip and slide, screaming out in panic and watching a scene seem to unfold in slow motion as he walked out onto that icy film covering the unforgiving winter lake waters.

Common sense thankfully got the better of me, and I remained on the shore rather than going out after him.  I have read too many tragic stories of pet owners going after their pets in dangerous situations, with the pet often emerging unscathed while the family member or multiple members lose their lives attempting to save it.  I cautioned my son to take the same course of action and he ran back to the house to get my husband.  When my husband reached the lake shore, I yelled at him to call the fire department.  Kruger was causing the ice to creak and groan as he walked further out.  I helplessly watched our newest family member begin to break through the ice as he approached Lake Superior’s open water.

Thankfully, he must have had some fear enter his thought process, as he slowly made his way back to shore, just as the fire department arrived with their safety gear for ice and water saves.  Apologies and profuse thanks relayed, we leashed old Kruger and remained fanatical about doing so for months.  He learned over time that our home was his home, and there was no need to run in fear of not having a home again.

Black labs galloping through the snow

During his short time with us, Kruger has galloped (using the term loosely given the arthritic hips involved) through the snow with our other older lab, gone swimming at the cabin (his elderly, muscle-wasted hind end required a life jacket to keep him safely afloat and minimize the risk of inhaling water while paddling around), played tug-of-war and chased after tennis balls (even in recent days), and enjoyed snuggling on the floor with us while watching a movie.  In return, Kruger gave us the unconditional, trusting love that reminds us why we repeatedly make room in our hearts and homes for our four-legged companions . . . even when saying good-bye is so painful.

Happy boy! ~ Kruger at the cabin last spring
Happy boy! ~ Kruger at the cabin last spring

The Legend of Rainbow Bridge

From the book, “The Legend of Rainbow Bridge” by William N. Britton

Reprinted with Permission

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When a pet dies who has been especially close to a person here on earth, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are beautiful meadows and grassy hills there for all our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is always plenty of their favorite food to eat, plenty of fresh spring water for them to drink, and every day is filled with sunshine so our little friends are warm and comfortable.

All the pets that had been ill or old are now restored to health and youth.

Those that had been hurt or maimed are now whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days gone by.

The pets we loved are happy and content except for one small thing.

Each one misses someone very special who was left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one of them suddenly stops and looks off into the distant hills.

It is as if they heard a whistle or were given a signal of some kind.

Their eyes are bright and intent. Their body begins to quiver.

All at once they break away from the group, flying like a deer over the grass, their little legs carrying them faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you hug and cling to them in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.

Happy kisses rain upon your face.

Your hands once again caress the beloved head.

You look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet so long gone from your life, but never gone from your heart.

Then with your beloved pet by your side, you will cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

Your Sacred Circle is now complete again.

(Reprinted with permission of the author. Published 1994. Copyright © William N. Britton.

Rainbows -- perhaps a bridge to better places?
Rainbows — perhaps a bridge to better places?

Kruger, we will be here for you until you are ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge.  Then, when it is time, we will do our best to help you cross without pain and with as much love as you can carry until we meet again.

~ Kat

50 responses to “Preparing for the Rainbow Bridge”

  1. I’m not quite sure how, but I just found your wonderful blog and now I’m teary. I think you must be such a great person to bring him into your home for his final days. I can see in your pictures he had a great time with your family. If only they could live longer… We have a big huge beautiful black lab too.


    • I am glad you found me and I look forward to exploring your blog further as well. While two black labs still in the house is plenty of dog, there is definitely a hole with our sweet Kruger’s passing this week. Give yours an extra hug tonight.


  2. Lovely post. They are never with us long enough, true for anything we love but particularly these selfless animals. We are at the same stage with our Portie of 16 years — and cherishing every last bit of time with her. I hope she is going over that bridge….


  3. He was so lucky to spend his old days in a loving home with you. It’s sad when we neeed to let them go. We were close to losing our Bumble on Monday, but now it seems we can have him for a while longer. Thinking of you


  4. Bless your generous and kind heart. You and your family gave Kruger a priceless gift of love and affection. I felt these words and they are truly moving, “In return, Kruger gave us the unconditional, trusting love that reminds us why we repeatedly make room in our hearts and homes for our four-legged companions . . . even when saying good-bye is so painful.” Thanks.


  5. My heart goes out to your family and Kruger. Having so recently lost our own Lab mix, all I can say is enjoy him, and spend as much time as possible with him while you still have time to make memories, and take lots of pictures. One day, they will make you smile as you recall him.


  6. Oh, Kat, I’m so very sorry to read this, but I know that your family gave Kruger a wonderful home for his last year. I had never seen The Legend of Rainbow Bridge until our vet sent it to us after one of our dogs passed. It opened the floodgates. I hope you won’t mind if I share a link, but I adore Pam Tanzey’s artwork, and her interpretation of The Rainbow Bridge brings a smile to my face every time I look at it:


  7. Your love for Kruger shines through this entire post. He was very lucky to find you and you are lucky to have each other! Bless you for giving that sweet boy the best retirement a pup could ask for!


  8. What more is there when you’ve found a loving home, humans who adore you and kind care when you’re hurting? Kruger is lucky… and when he is ready, he will leave loving hands to be greeted by the tremendous love and tranquility we all long for. Thank you for expressing your deep love and devotion to Kruger.


  9. So sad to read that Kruger has so few days before him, although it’s clear to see that he could not have found a better home to live out his senior years.


  10. It is so hard. I’ve been there four times now. I still remember each of my boys as if it were yesterday. The Rainbow Bridge is a wonderful story. Shortly before my father died at 92, he would point out dogs running by when I went to visit him. I couldn’t see them, but I took that as confirmation that there are indeed dogs in heaven. That made me happy.


  11. How wonderful for you to take in Kruger. I am a sucker for the seniors myself. They have so much love to give yet. You are blessed to have found each other.
    Andy my golden, along with Mikey, will be there for him, too. But tell him to watch out for my Poco – he was a little parrot who liked to chase dogs. 😉


  12. Tears of joy for Kruger and his humans and for the past 15 months of family love. Tears for it coming to an end too soon. With laughter and smiles for the many Kruger adventures and to how each of you took Kruger into your hearts and made room for him and how he found and took his place along side in the Bray family. I see him running, swimming, and just smiling as only a black lab can. A hug for Kruger and a hug for you Kat and for each of you. It is never long enough with our furry four legged family. Thank you for this post and thank you for the smiles you have brought to me in sharing Kruger’s adventures these past months. I am seeing in my mind the photo you posted a while ago of the 3 boys in your bedroom and just how snug and content they all looked. Much love Cheryl


  13. Kruger sounds like a pretty amazing pooch! I’m sorry he is ill and you have to think about losing him. We lost our dog, Mikey, a year ago to illness and like you, we knew his time was limited. We just enjoyed every minute with him, every walk, every game of fetch….made sure he was comfortable and happy. You couldn’t even tell he was sick. When he passed, we knew he was healthy, happy and chasing rabbits somewhere…must have been Rainbow Bridge. Now I need to grab some tissue.


  14. I’m not even a huge dog lover and it made me tear up as well – Kruger was lucky to be a part of your home, even if a short period of time!


  15. Have been where you’re at…it’s tough, but worth having them in our lives. All the best as you approach and cross the bridge. ~Fred


  16. How can anyone read this post without tearing up? Kruger could not have asked for a better home!


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