Doggy Heaven: The [Bifröst] Bridge

I love animals, I do work at my local shelter, and am currently working towards becoming a certified dog trainer.  I  presently have two cats, one of which is a rescue cat, and if I had room, I’d bring the dogs home too.  I lost my oldest shelter cat to cancer about a year and a half ago, and I was actually present when my childhood pup was euthanized.   

I tell you all this so that no one assumes I don’t care about or understand the issues facing homeless animals or shelter life, etc. because what I am about to say may be unpopular to some of the more sensitive “animal people.”  Although I understand people wanting to think comforting things when they lose a beloved pet or animal companion, I really don’t get the Rainbow Bridge thing.  

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of a work of poetic prose written some time between 1980 and 1992, whose original creator is unknown. The theme is of a mythological place to which a pet goes upon its death, eventually to be reunited with its owner. It has gained popularity amongst animal lovers who have lost a pet. The belief shows similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse mythology (source).

I guess it is supposed to be like Doggy Heaven or whatever.  I don’t even really believe in people heaven, but I recognize and respect that there are a huge number of people in this country and others that do.  But does anyone really believe in the fabled Rainbow Bridge?  I’d assume it is used mostly as a metaphor for our beloved animals finally being at peace in the afterlife…or something.  But I swear, the way some people talk about it, it seems to have taken on a afterlife of it’s own.

**EDIT: I swear, I just saw a perfect example of this.  A friend’s dog passed and one of his friends told him “…hes crossed the rainbow bridge and running and playing with all the other luved furbabies who have left..hope him and [my cat] are chillin together…”  Maybe some people would find comfort in that… but if someone said that to me when my cat passed, I’d probably have wanted to throat punch them…   Because to my ears it just sounds like one of those well-meaning but ultimately hollow things people say to grieving people.

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

It is interesting to note that there seems to be some discussion among Christians as to whether or not animals “go to Heaven,” when they die, and whether or not they have “souls.”  Perhaps this is part of the reason some may feel a need for animals to have their very own heaven to go to when they pass from this world.  (1), (2), (3)

But,  though I would not begrudge anyone mourning a loss something that gives them comfort… I don’t believe in deluding myself for comfort’s sake either.

However…this would be nice…



Do you believe there’s a real Rainbow Bridge?

Do you think animals go to Heaven?

Feel free to (respectfully) discuss!



19 responses to “Doggy Heaven: The [Bifröst] Bridge

  1. It seems a euphemism for death and is often used to avoid that almost taboo word. Not being at all sure of the human version of this ‘paradise’ makes it doubly difficult to comprehend. Just hope that when we go we all go to the same place.

    • I think for most people it is a euphemism or metaphor, as you say… but I still can’t help but cringe when I see people talking about it. :/ Death HAS become very antiseptic in America. People used to do “at home” deaths, taking care of their own dead. I bet it often helped the healing process.

  2. I don’t believe in a heaven. We die, and who knows what happens after that. Maybe our soul lives on to another live. I don’t know, but I’m open to anything. The heaven-thing just seems very like a fairy-tale, just like the rainbow bridge. I use the rainbow bridge in a way of “they have gone to a good place, now that they have passed away”. Like AC says: a word for death.
    I like the idea of a rainbow bridge. It’s a nice idea, a nice story. Fantasy-like, but maybe it makes owners feel better if they think their animals have gone to a better place. It’s a popular word in the animal-blogging-world.

  3. Also, according to my boyfriend his brother (who is very very very christian) believes animals have no soul, that’s what the bible said (thats what he said). They have no soul because animals do everything instinctively. They have no feelings or emotions (I think thats bullshit). That’s what he said when I asked him about it.

  4. I’m not a believer, therefore the idea of heaven to me, is not more real than the idea of hell. What happens when we die? I have no clue, I’d like to think it just ends, there’s nothing after, we are meant to be food for other animals and fertilizer for the earth.
    If there’s a heaven, however, and dogs go there, so there’s also gotta be a hell and I think my Doggy is going to hell, or at least spending some time in the Purgatory. As for me, I’d be going straight to hell, non stops.

  5. The first time someone sent me that poem back in the late 90’s I bawled my eyes out. But I don’t believe in any afterlife. If my mom can’t come back, then my beloved pets can’t either. Just because we love them equally doesn’t make them resistant to the end that waits for all animals (humans included). It’s a lovely fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless. I’ve also gotten a bit annoyed with the whole idea lately – I know people mean well but. But. No.

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