I mentioned in an earlier post that our family had some stuff going on and combined with the end of the school year, I wasn't posting much lately. One of the "things" that has kept us so busy is the declining health of our beloved merle Great Dane, Ashley.
We rescued Ashley from a farm where she was being treated unkindly by both humans and bigger dogs. She was a birthday present for me, but she quickly endeared herself to each member of our family and became "theirs" as well.
Our dear companion crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. As much as we knew it was time, it was still so very hard to let go. Ashley had been declining for quite some time, but she took it all in stride and still tried to be playful and engaged in our family activities.
Last night, we had a terrible storm. There was some solace to know that she no longer had to cower under furniture or try to curl up in our laps because she was terrified of storms. She doesn't have to fear the storms any more. The thought of her waiting by the Rainbow Bridge is comforting. In case you're not familiar, here's the story of "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 Rainbow Bridge together....
Great Danes have shorter life spans than many other breeds, usually about 8 years. We were told that merle danes have a slightly shorter life span. When we got her, she and our youngest daughter, Bailey, were both about a year old. Lyndsay was 8, the perfect age for a canine companion.They all grew up together, and Ashley was like a third daughter. We were fortunate to love her for 11 years.
I was sent this beautiful prayer and it is so appropriate.
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.
- © Brandy Duckworth, 1998
Our house seems so empty right now. We still have our new little dog, Max, and I'm sure, in years to come, we'll open our home and hearts to other pets. Ashley will forever live in our hearts and memories.