If you’re a pet lover, you’ve heard of the Rainbow Bridge. The story behind the Rainbow Bridge tells of a lush green meadow just “this side of Heaven”. Rainbow Bridge is the name of both the meadow and the adjoining pan-prismatic conveyance connecting it to Heaven.

According to the story, when a pet dies, it goes to the meadow, restored to perfect health and free of any injuries or pain. The pet runs and plays with the other pets there, and there is always fresh food and water, with the sun always shining. But, according to the story, while the pet is at peace and happy, they also miss their owner that was left behind on Earth.

When their owner dies, they too arrive at the meadow. When this happens, the pet stops playing, turns, sniffs at the air and looks into the distance where they see their beloved owner. Excited, they run as fast as they can, until owner and pet are once more in union. Side by side, they cross the Rainbow Bridge together into Heaven, never again to be separated.

If there is truly a Rainbow Bridge, and I’m praying there is, the Bridge has gained an angel. I know without a doubt, my beloved Izzy dog was one of the first to greet this angel.

When we adopted Izzy, a puggle (a cross between a pug and a beagle) he was around two months old. He came with many issues. The story was that he had been abandoned in a laundromat in Asotin, reportedly by a group of college boys. We often joked about “college boys” after his adoption, but to Izzy, it was no joke. He was terrified of beer bottles and telephones, just to name a couple of his strange phobias.

Another issue I had with him was his clinginess. I was the first person in the family to hold him when we adopted him, and that was it. I was his “person” forever. If I dared get out of his sight, I would hear the pitter patter of his feet trotting after me, searching to find which room I had wandered into. If I left him in the vehicle while I ran an errand, he would sit and look longingly out the car window, waiting for my return.

Much to my mom’s chagrin, he came to work with me every day. Our pug dog, Angus, also came to work with me, but this wasn’t an annoyance to Mom, she adored him. Izzy had a habit that was a hard one to adapt to. Whenever someone would come in the front door of the Tribune, he would bark incessantly, a loud, shrill nonstop bark.

Mom had my brother-in-law, John, install a tall gate at the entrance to the Tribune office, by the front counter. This was to stop Izzy from barreling up front and startling or terrifying our customers. It worked for that. It didn’t stop the irritating barking.

Mom and I had many discussions about Izzy and his unruly office behavior. She would tell me often I needed to figure out something different for him, something that didn’t include bringing him to the office. I would tell her, “Okay, Mom, I’ll figure out something.” We both knew this meant Izzy was going to keep coming to the office.

I would continue to cringe when someone came in the office and Izzy would charge up to the gate with his loud, insufferable bark. And Mom would look at me through her office window with an “I’m at my wits’ end” look. And on and on it went. Many customers would ignore his embarrassingly loud barks, others would jump with shock at the abhorrent greeting they had received upon entering the office. And some would give me a look similar to my mom’s look of unhappiness at the ruckus coming from behind the gate.

I had known Kathy for many years before Izzy’s arrival, through friendships, horses and at Clearwater Valley Veterinary Clinic. She was a poised, kind person that had a special touch with the animals. An animal whisperer if there ever was one.

Kathy would stop by the Tribune office to pay for ads or to place articles about her dog obedience classes she and Demetra taught together. When she would enter the office and be greeted by the nonstop, hysterical bark of Izzy, she would calmly open the gate and stand beside him. The first time this happened, his response made me laugh. He looked puzzled by this woman that was not flustered or scared by his carrying on.

Kathy also saw the puzzled look on his face and said, “What, I’m not scared of you? You don’t know what to think, do you?” And then she reached down and gave him pets and loves like only I had given him. The puzzled look soon turned into a look of affection.

This became Kathy and Izzy’s monthly routine. She would come to the office to pay a bill or place an article, Izzy would carry on, and when he realized who he was barking at behind the gate, the look on his face would turn from “I’m going to get you” to “I really love you.” Kathy always took the time to pet and talk to him, making him feel not like the rescued puppy with issues, but like the lovable, silly dog he was.

My mom died Aug. 11, 2019, a devastating loss to our family. I told Izzy one night that I needed him to stick around for at least another year, to help mend my shattered heart. Knowing he was getting up there in years, I knew another 10 years was too much to ask for, but one more year should be allowable, right fate? As if to show me how much inner strength I can muster up, fate wouldn’t let us have that one more year together. Not even a month after Mom’s death, Izzy was diagnosed with cancer. He died three weeks later.

This brings me back to the Rainbow Bridge. In my mind, I envision Izzy’s reaction to gaining an angel in Heaven that he knows and adores. I have no doubt he’s waiting on the Rainbow Bridge for me, and he and many other dogs now have a special angel watching over them and tending to them on the Rainbow Bridge. They will never want for love, hugs and kisses with this special angel. Hearts are broken here on Earth for the loss of such a wonderful person. I know one silly “Puppy”, as I affectionately called him, that will be by this angel’s side for eternity.

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