She came to live with me on her first birthday – more than 11 years ago. At that time she was in training with Assistance Dogs of America (ADAI in Swanton) to become a service or therapy dog.
She had spent her first year in the women’s prison in Cleveland, where she was house-trained and learned her basic commands. When she was a year old, I became her foster “mom,” and she lived with me 24/7. We did everything and went everywhere together.
When she was two years old, she returned to ADAI for final training and to be placed with a client. That would take about three months. Even then, she came home on weekends.. During that time, it was determined she would be a therapy dog. But on the very last day of training, I received a phone call saying, “We’ve released Kelly.”
My response? “Well, she’s my dog. I’ll come pay the adoption fee and pick her up.”
Since ADA places their therapy dogs with clients with autism or epilepsy, she couldn’t be a therapy dog because of her barking problem. After I adopted her, she and I took additional training together and earned the designation of Certified Therapy Dog team. We have been in service for several years at a nursing home in Oregon, Ohio, where she was greatly loved.
She always attended church with me, too, and became a much loved “member” of the congregation. But these past few days have been extremely difficult for her. She has been treated for arthritis and congestive heart failure for several years, so when she began panting almost continually I thought her heart was causing the problem. We went to her doctor.
After a thorough examination, he determined the excessive panting was related to pain rather than heart, prescribed additional pain medication, and said to call him on Monday. But the very next morning, it was apparent waiting until Monday was not an option.
As I lovingly stroked her head, Kelly went to the Rainbow Bridge. Though I am fully aware the poem is whimsical and fictional, I still take comfort in the thoughts.
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 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)
Even as Kelly is now gone from sight and presence, our time (yours and mine) draws nearer, too. With the very real fears of the coronavirus, it is essential that you make your decision for Christ NOW! Don’t wait until you are called to meet your beloved pet(s) at the Rainbow Bridge.