Just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health
and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made
whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days
times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together....
As I write this, it has been only 3 hours since our beautiful boy Gus took his last breath. My heavy heart and the feeling of numbness are so very real. I still see his beautiful head in my hands… his sad eyes looking at me… the quiet last breath… and then he was gone. I look up at my wife Cheryl and we share our silent sadness saturated in tears.
It has been an emotional roller coaster these past six weeks and more so in the past two. Countless visits to the vet... tests and then more tests… injections and pills and serums… still no conclusions. There was sickness then rebounding to good health then sickness again. Cheryl and I rode that emotional roller coaster. Hope and elation shattered again and again. And now I sit here wondering why? What is this all about? Why do we make such heavy investments, emotional and otherwise? Why do we do what we do for the love of dogs?
And yes they bring us joy… but why? And at times like this, so much pain as well. How can this be? Who in their right mind would impose this upon themselves? But we do. We definitely do.
Being a partner with a Great Pyr is not a trivial matter. I say being a partner because you really never own a Pyr and you certainly are not its master. Pay attention to the details of dog behaviour and you can establish yourself as pack leader, or maybe they just give you the illusion of leadership. They work with you but never for you… not unless it's their idea.
But they are loyal, imposing and beautiful… truly awesome dogs. They take up a lot of space in your car, in your home, in your life and in your heart. And yes they can be stubborn. We Pyr people like to call it wilfulness, but let's face it… they're stubborn; there's no doubt about it. And that can lead to frustration, sometimes even embarrassment when the stubborn streak appears in public. So if you want a dog to stroke your ego by responding to your every wish and command, a Pyr is definitely not for you.
Why then… why do we put up with the antics of an immature Pyr for nearly three years? Aptly named by experienced Pyr people as the "butthead stage", Pyrs exhibit all manner of behaviour that requires constant correction to create a social dog. And just when you think they have it mastered, they can revert to their butthead behaviour yet again. And don't forget… this is not a small dog. This is a dog that can reach 130 pounds and nearly 100 pounds before its 1 year old. Try correcting that rambunctious youngster.
But then, at around 3 years of age, the beautiful Pyr emerges, like a butterfly from a chrysalis, in all its regal beauty. Calm and gentle, confident and graceful… that's the payoff. Anywhere and everywhere you go, people stop and want to know about this beautiful creature. It is the ultimate arm candy. It is the superlative icebreaker. It's not really an ego booster. It's more a sense of pride in knowing that you have taken the beauty that nature has provided and groomed it mentally and physically to share with others.
And back at home? Unlike many other dog owners, you don't get to play catch with a Pyr or engage in other dog like activities. They will engage you in a game of Catch Me If You Can from time to time and show you just how quick a big 130-pound dog can be. And you certainly don't have a dog that will hang around while you work in the garden and come when it's called. Sometimes maybe, but don't depend on it. Obedient? Well on their own terms, if they see something in it for them.
These are highly intelligent dogs with a strong work ethic. They will do what you want after they have done what they were born to do… protect you. That can look like stubbornness, stupidity, even deafness, but make no mistake… this dog is ensuring that all threats, real or imagined, are assessed and dealt with before turning attention to your wishes. This dog will give its life for you.
And that takes me back to this morning and Gus' final bark… his final act of protection. Here was our beautiful Pyr struggling to breath and bleeding from his mouth, in obvious distress in his kennel. And when the Vet arrived to attend to his misery, his response was to get to his feet and give his big warning bark… to defend us from this intruder upon his property.
So we sit here sad and heartbroken, wondering why we do this, wondering what the payback is. What is the benefit?
Memories of the happy times… memories of the times he tested our patience... memories of all of the successes… these are all now lasting parts of who we are. And I suppose it can be said that in some small way we are changed forever from this experience. Maybe it's even more than in a small way.
Because of Gus, we have done things we thought we could never do, created new habits we never had and most importantly met people we would never have met. We suspect some of those relationship will endure, not simply because of a common love for dogs in general and Great Pyrs in particular, but because these people are simply wonderful human beings.
That is the payback. That is the gift that will last forever.
I have often said that we have cats to learn about cats… and we have dogs to learn about ourselves. Today we have learned that it is painful to be human and say "Goodbye" to your Pyr.
Go now our beautiful boy. You are free at last. We'll see you at the Rainbow Bridge.
Do you have a pet waiting for you near the Rainbow Bridge? This is your opportunity to pay a lasting tribute and share your pet's love with us forever.
We'd love for you to submit up to four pictures and tell us all about your pet. Please make your story 400 or 500 words long as we would love to know all of the details of your lives together.
Thanks for sharing.
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Return Home from the Rainbow Bridge.
Some folks have asked us how Gus died so young. You can learn more here.