For the Love of Pets: The Rainbow Bridge Poem

Our pets love us unconditionally. And losing love like that can affect us deeply. The Rainbow Bridge poem honors our beloved creatures and soothes our souls.

By Jenny Dsouza ~

The Rainbow Bridge Poem

About The Poem

The Rainbow Bridge poem, written in simple English prose, tells a story about what happens to our beloved pets when they die.

Pet lovers who have already lost a pet or wild animal caretaker, all around the world have become fond of this emotional poetry about deceased pets and animal companions.

The Concept of Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge poem is direct and understandable. The lines are quite simple to read, and the syntax is uncomplicated. Although it is unclear exactly where the concept of the "rainbow bridge" originated, one theory suggests that it has its roots in Norse mythology and the Bifrost, a rainbow bridge that connects the world of the gods. The poet of this poem is unknown.

Listen to the Rainbow Bridge Poem 

“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.”

Who wrote the Rainbow Bridge Poem?

There is some confusion around who wrote The Rainbow Bridge poem but most agree that it was written by Paul C. Dahm in 1981. Dahm was a grief counselor in Oregon, USA. He wrote this poem as prose instead of using rhyming couplets. This lends simplicity to the poem and makes it enjoyable for both – adults and children.

The Rainbow Bridge Poem

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 investigates 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 Rainbow Bridge together...
Rainbow bridge poem

Meaning of the Poem

The poet poignantly sympathizes with grieving pet parents while composing this poem for bright-eyed friends. Loss of life, grief, acceptance, and reunion are the main themes in "The Rainbow Bridge."

This poem strikes a harmony between the emotion of happiness of having a pet, and the pain of dying and losing a cherished pet. These encounters served as the basis for this poem on pets and their afterlife.

According to the poem, "The Rainbow bridge" is a place right next to heaven where all loved pets go in their afterlife. The pet first enters a pleasant, warm, and joyful environment described by green meadows and warm spring weather. All old and frail animals are restored and healed in this golden land.

Read our article on ‘10 Things I Learnt from My Kitten’ 

Our pet spends all its time with other furry friends running in the green meadow, health renewed, and lives filled with safety, love, food, water, and fun. The idea of "meadow and hills" is intended to calm pet owners who have lost their beloved animals and help them imagine a pleasant place for their pet's spirit. The poem describes a paradise in this mysterious world where our trusting pets can find "water and sunlight" in plenty.

While they wait for their human to arrive in heaven someday (via the rainbow bridge), they are at ease. The speaker refers to the lost animals as "our companions," and treats them as equals. They are more than just "owner and pet"; they are also close friends, blood relatives, and each other's most faithful allies.

"Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What’s one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully.” – Jon Katz

Read our article on the famous ‘The Two-Headed Calf Poem’

The poet assures us in this bridge poem that reunion with the pet is inevitable. The pets may have found comfort in this new home with other dogs, cats, and animals but their greatest friend is still missing from their life.

There comes a moment when we pass the veil and enter this realm of souls ourselves. The poet guarantees us that the pets will rush to find "us" when they spot us from a distance. The main purpose of composing this poem was to capture this profoundly joyful moment. This verse contains a few instances of literary devices like alliteration and imagery. The poem beautifully pictures the best days of an animal where they are fast, radiant, and responsive to our voice and actions.

The rainbow bridge poem is simple but powerful with the ability to bring all pet owners to tears.

Rainbow bridge poem

Read our article on the Dash Poem 

Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.”
― Amy Sedaris, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People

Message for Grieving Pet Owners

In the last stanza of the ‘Rainbow Bridge Poem,’ the poet expresses the reunion phase of the poem of the animal and his human companion. It is like meeting our dog after a trip but on this trip, the journey of the souls was a bit too long and the reunion was inevitable. The poet describes that even after several years of separation and grief, love for a pet can never be replaced. The bond between a pet and its owner is a sacred bond of everlasting love, trust, and happiness.

The poem's final few lines are continuous episodes and lack the obstacles of punctuation. The poem is punctuated with an ellipsis at the end, which allows us to invent our own imagery and imagine what awaits the grieving pet owners beyond the Rainbow Bridge.

“Over the years I've come to appreciate how animals enter our lives prepared to teach and far from being burdened by an inability to speak they have many different ways to communicate. It is up to us to listen more than hear, to look into more than past.”
― Nick Trout, Love Is the Best Medicine: What Two Dogs Taught One Veterinarian about Hope, Humility, and Everyday Miracles
Rainbow bridge poem


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