I usually try to be funny or at least amusing when I write these blogs. Sadly, this will not be one of them. Yesterday, my furry grandson Banning crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He was a sweet, wonderful little guy. It was only a month or so ago that he officiated at his Mom and Dad’s wedding.

For those of you who have never had the soul-wrenching job of having to have your pet put to sleep, you may think the Rainbow Bridge is the bridge Thor uses to get from Earth to Asgard.

That’s not the one. Although I guess it could be if your dog is a Viking.

Anyone that has done it knows it refers to a card the vet gives you when your dog dies. It’s really quite beautiful and if for some strange reason you should ever find yourself feeling just too happy or in too good a mood and feel the need to cry your eyes out,  just read it. Works every time. I got to thinking about this because there was a copy of it on the wall in the vet’s office.

I first experienced the Rainbow Bridge when my dog George had to be put down.

I’ve always found that term so odd. When you “put the baby down”, you put the baby to bed. But when you “put your pet down”,  you put him to sleep. Forever. Never quite understood that.

Anyway, George was my first time going through this nightmare. I just couldn’t do it. To me, I was playing God. I had the power of life and death over another being. How arrogant was that? My then-wife and I agonized for days about when to do it and even if we could do it. We decided to take a ride around the block to clear our heads. When we came back, George was in a coma.

We rushed him to the vet realizing we had waited way too long. We were both total basket cases. And then the oddest thing happened. The doctor who took care of us was a doctor we had never seen before. We had been going to the same vet for years. I didn’t think much about it at the time. New doctors come and go.

I was also too much of wreck to even think about it until later. But here’s the thing. He was beautiful. Not just handsome, beautiful. My ex even said at the time “that’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.”

He did what he had to do. He was incredibly nice and kind to us. We didn’t really notice until later because we were so devastated. We went home, cried for about a week and then as it does, life moved on. One of the only cures for the grief of losing a loved one is time.

So, fast forward about a month or so. One day I get a bill in the mail from the vet. All the bill says is “George – $50.” I look at it and go ‘what’? I was pretty sure I had paid all my vet bills, so I called the vet and asked what the bill was for.

There was a really long pause and the lady at the other end of the phone finally said in a quiet whisper, “It’s for… George.”

I said “Yes I know that. It says so right here on the bill. But what is it for?”

In an even quieter whisper, she said, “It’s for… George. You asked for him to be cremated.”

Apparently, we’d been asked at the time if we wanted George to be cremated and we said yes. I have no memory whatsoever of doing that, I was such a mess at the time. But I had to chuckle. Enough time had gone by that I could see the humor in the whole thing. So, I laughed and then asked her why she was whispering.

She explained most people get very emotional all over again when they are informed of the cremation, so they try to be as gentle and kind as possible. I said that made sense and that was very nice of them. She then said, “And by the way… George is ready.” I said, “Ready for what?”

Again, the whisper came back “He’s ready. He’s here. You wanted to keep the ashes.” Again, no memory of asking for that either. I laughed again and spent a few minutes consoling her because she seemed more upset about this than I was. I said I’d be right over.

So, chuckling at the whole incident and sort of happy that enough time had passed that I could see the humor in the whole thing, I went to pick up George. I entered the office and said I was here to pick up George. Instantly everyone got very quiet and out came the whispers again. I reassured them I was OK, and I paid the bill. Then the nice lady behind the counter looked furtively to the left and the right and reached down under counter and handed me a plain brown paper bag. Sort of like a drug deal. I smiled to myself. For some reason this was just getting funnier, they were all so sweet.

As I was leaving, I asked if the doctor was around so I could thank him for his kindness. I didn’t remember his name. I described him and they looked at me puzzled. No doctor of that description worked there. They hadn’t hired a new doctor in years. True story, swear to God. As the theme to the Twilight Zone played in my head, I left with my paper bag and got in the car. I looked in the bag and there were two things. One, a very plain white box. George. And then I pulled out this postcard with the Rainbow Bridge on it. I read it and burst out in tears and cried my eyes out all the way home.

I’ve helped many more of my furry family to that bridge since then and I will do so again. I didn’t have to make the choice in Banning’s case. His Mom and Dad, David and Katie did. But it didn’t make it one bit less gut-wrenching. They did what they had to do.

The ultimate act of kindness. I’m proud of them.

Keanu Reeves was on Colbert a while back and for some reason, Colbert asked him what happens after you die. He paused for a second and said.

“You will be missed by the people that loved you.”

There was stunned silence in the audience and Colbert who was literally speechless. He just said. “Wow.”

My furry grandson was my little bud.

He was loved and he will be missed.

Say Hi to George little buddy.

Categories: Death and Dying, dogs, Pets, Tom Curley

Tags: , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. And you reminded me of how we ‘let our little Dachsie go’. She got to the ripe and highly respectable age of 18 but her problems started to mount up to too much. When we took her to the vet, he was very, very kind and told us he would give her two needles (or ‘a little prick’ he said). The first one would just put her to sleep, during which time we could hold her in our arms and give her comfort. Then, the second one would kill her. I was, by then, so upset, crying so hard and unhappy that he asked me to go to the back of the house, into the garden and wait for my husband to come and get me. I vomitted against the apple tree and felt terrible about it.
    When my husband and son came with the empty dog collar in their hands, I fell apart again and when we emerged from our car back home, one neighbour (also dog owner) saw us without dog but the collar hanging from our hands, she broke down in tears too….
    We don’t usually cremate our pets, if only because we are 90%+ renting and not owning our home (Switzerland), so we left our buddie with our kind vet and he promised that he does dispose of the body in a respectful fashion and not just ‘throw them out with the garbage’. We loved that vet, an Egyptian, and since we could speak with him in English, he became a friend of us and we often met on a private basis too.
    Your ‘story’ is both beautiful, sad, heart-warming and very funny – I could see it unfolding beautifully…. The Rainbow card I got to know in Canada and England; I’m glad that they don’t exist in CH and France – because I’m a sobbing mess every single time I read that poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry. Know the pain of the loss

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ok, now you guys have gone and done it.., I thought I was finally adjusting to the loss of my three friends Polly, Max and Harley (little cat with Huge purr). Not to mention people types urging me to visit the pound, or Humane Society to adopt a replacement. I have not done that even though I go once in a while to see how other potential little buddies are faring. You can’t “replace” a friend, it’s the wrong, wrong word. You don’t buy friends in a supermarket, or shelter.., you offer to share your home with a new friend.., and I just can’t do it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Heart wrenching when that time comes Tom, sorry to hear of your loss.


  5. My sincere condolences. And congratulations on your lovely family who knew what was kind and compassionate took precedence over their grief. ❤


  6. That poem always gets to me too. I didn’t read it today, just thinking about pets dying is enough to start me off. I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sure Banning was a great dog. He was family. My dog is sleeping peacefully near me. She’s thirteen so although she’s in good shape I’m aware we are on bonus time now. Interesting story about the mystery vet. Did you ever discover who that was?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Geez–thanks, Tom. I am a mess now. I have had my dogs and cats privately cremated. Their ashes are in the most beautiful wooden boxes with their names on, in my closet. Yes, it was very somber when I went back to the vet to pick them up. Rainbow Bridge…..cry like a baby every time I read it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m still crying about Mao and Divot and Pagan and Tinker and Griff and Mac and Bishop and so many others. If I think about it very much, I’ll just be a puddle here on the sofa. They really should stop giving out that card. It’s a total killer. We are miserable enough. I don’t feel we need more!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Well told, Tom! I’m very sorry for your family’s loss. I have tears in my eyes, of course, thinking of my own sweet dog, Boo Boo, and helping to make that excruciating choice. Your vet experience was much more interesting than mine. When my dog’s ashes were ready to be picked up, a chirpy voice called and just said, “Boo Boo’s ready to be picked up,” as if he had gone in for a grooming and pedicure and was ready to jump back into my arms. At the time, I felt that young woman was very unsympathetic and more concerned about what the people in the waiting room overheard.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. So sorry for the loss of your furry grandchild, Tom. It breaks my heart every time another one I love crosses the rainbow bridge. I do look forward to reconnecting, although my smart ass cat Lucy still manages to send her messages from afar. Peace and healing to you.

    Liked by 2 people


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