In Loving Memory of...

Cat AngelTwenty-five years ago, when I first started practicing veterinary medicine, I knew that my patients would most likely have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, and I dreaded it. No longer! With amazing research, advancement of diagnostic tools, and the strengthening of the human-companion bond, it is not unusual to have cats living to 20 years and dogs living to 16 years of age. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your family over these years.

It is always with great sadness when we must part with your beloved companion. We try our best to do it with the utmost compassion and dignity. We think that euthanasia is truly the greatest gift of love that we can give.

The other day when I helped a family part with their sick, elderly cat, they brought in a prayer and said it aloud. I was struck with the beauty of the words and thought that it might help others when they must do the same. It follows:

A Parting Prayer

Dear Lord, please open your gates and call St. Francis to come escort this beloved companion across the Rainbow Bridge. Assign her to a place of honor for she has been a faithful servant and has always done her best to please me. Bless the hands that send her to you, for they are doing so in love and compassion, freeing her from pain and suffering. Grant me the strength not to dwell on my loss. Help me remember the details of her life with the love she has shown me. And grant me the courage to honor her by sharing those memories with others. Let her remember me as well and let her know that I will always love her. And when it's my time to pass over into your paradise, please allow her to accompany those who will bring me home.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of her companionship and for the time we've had together. And thank you, Lord, for granting me the strength to give her to you now. Amen.

— Brandy Duckworth, 1998

And, for those of you who have never heard or read The Rainbow Bridge, here it is:

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to 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. All 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 and 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.

— Author Unknown