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A spiritual look at the Rainbow Bridge

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"Dogs are with us for what seems a very brief span. Their hearts are huge and their capacity for love is so enormous that we forget we have these wonderful creatures only on loan and that one day we will have to give the gift of a dog back." — Jean Harrison, Founder, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue

In a guest column written for his local newspaper, the Rev. Joe Bowden talks about losing his precious dog, Gabbi. He reflects upon the Rainbow Bridge and references Scripture as the comforting basis and proof that this pet paradise exists, and that someday we will all be reunited with the companion animals that have gone before us.

His words can be read here: http://chronicle.augusta.com/life/your-faith/2013-11-15/pets-reveal-us-u...

The column was sent to me by a pet parent shortly after my beloved dog, the love of my life, was diagnosed with nasal cancer in November. On Friday, February 14, I had to let her go. She was in the early stages of this rare and horrible cancer and was doing well; our vet thought we had more time. Instead, on Tuesday, she became very weak, then progressively weaker during the next two days. I knew it was time. Our wonderful vet came to our home immediately when I called him on Friday morning, and he helped her make a quiet and peaceful transition, lying on her favorite cushion, while I held her and cried. I always promised her that she would not suffer; she is at peace, but the loss of my best friend is unbearable.

She crossed the Bridge two months shy of her tenth birthday; she spent nine of those years with me, and every minute was a gift. I was lucky to work from home and spend all of my time with her. She accompanied me almost everywhere and was loved by everyone. The presence of her absence and the absence of her presence are overwhelming. The silence around me is deafening.

Now that she is gone, there is no reason, nor any desire, to continue writing about dogs. But in closing this column for good, I offer a few thoughts.

Dogs teach us so much. They give us their love unconditionally; their hearts and souls are ours in return for nothing more than our companionship. They do not judge. They stand by us in good and bad times and their love never diminishes.

Adopting a dog, or any companion animal, is a long-term commitment. Your life will change. Your lifestyle will change. You will become a full-time parent, and they will depend on you for food, shelter, companionship, love, attention, transportation, medical care and activities. They will never leave your side, nor should you leave theirs. If you are blessed, you will have them into their senior years. Appreciate each day that you have with them, nurture them as they age, and be with them at the very end. It is your ultimate, final gift to them, and they deserve nothing less.

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