Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day
dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined.
All the recent arrivals were confused and concerned. They had no idea what
to think for they had never experienced a day like this before. But the
animals who had spent some time waiting for their beloved people knew
exactly what was happening and began to gather at the pathway leading to the
Bridge to watch. They knew this was something special.
It wasn't too long before an elderly animal came
into view, head hung heavy and low with tail dragging along the ground. The
other animals on the pathway...the ones who had been at Rainbow Bridge for a
while...knew the story of this sad creature immediately. They had seen it
happen far too many times.
Although it was obvious the animal's heart was
leaden and he was totally overcome with emotional pain and hurt, there was
no sign of injury or any illness. Unlike the pets waiting at the Bridge,
this dog had not been restored to his prime. He was full of neither health
nor vigor. He approached slowly and painfully, watching all the pets who
were by now watching him. He knew he was out of place here. This was no
resting place for him. He felt instinctively that the sooner he could cross
over, the happier he would be. But alas, as he came closer to the Bridge,
his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who spoke softly to the old
dog and apologized sorrowfully, telling him that he would not be able to
pass. Only those animals who were with their special people could pass over
the Rainbow Bridge. And he had no special beloved people...not here at the
Bridge nor on Earth below.
With no place else to turn, the poor elderly dog
looked toward the fields before the Bridge. There, in a separate area
nearby, he spotted a group of other sad-eyed animals like himself...elderly
and infirm. Unlike the pets waiting for their special people, these animals
weren't playing, but simply lying on the green grass, forlornly and
miserably staring out at the pathway leading to the Bridge. The recent
arrival knew he had no choice but to join them. And so, he took his place
among them, just watching the pathway and waiting.
One of the newest arrivals at the Bridge, who was
waiting for his special people, could not understand what he had just
witnessed and asked one of the pets who had been there for some time to
explain it to him.
"That poor dog was a rescue, sent to the pound
when his owner grew tired of him. The way you see him now, with graying fur
and sad, cloudy eyes, was exactly the way he was when he was put into the
kennels. He never, ever made it out and passed on only with the love and
comfort that the kennel workers could give him as he left his miserable and
unloved existence on Earth for good. Because he had no family or special
person to give his love, he has nobody to escort him across the Bridge."
The first animal thought about this for a minute
and then asked, "So what will happen now?"
As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds
suddenly parted and the all-invasive gloom lifted. Coming toward the Bridge
could be seen a single figure...a person who, on Earth, had seemed quite
ordinary...a person who, just like the elderly dog, had just left Earth
forever. This figure turned toward a group of the sad animals and extended
outstretched palms. The sweetest sounds they had ever heard echoed gently
above them and all were bathed in a pure and golden light. Instantly, each
was young and healthy again, just as they had been in the prime of life.
From within the gathering of pets waiting for
their special people, a group of animals emerged and moved toward the
pathway. As they came close to the passing figure, each bowed low and each
received a tender pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. Their eyes
grew even brighter as the figure softly murmured each name. Then, the
newly-restored pets fell into line behind the figure and quietly followed
this person to the Bridge, where they all crossed together.
The recent arrival who had been watching, was
amazed. "What happened?"
"That was a rescuer," came the answer. "That
person spent a lifetime trying to help pets of all kinds. The ones you saw
bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of such unselfish
work. They will cross when their families arrive. Those you saw restored
were ones who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are permitted
to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor
pets that couldn't place on Earth across the Rainbow Bridge. You see, all
animals are special to them...just as they are special to all animals."
"I think I like rescuers," said the recent