If you’ve ever been owned by a pet, chances are you’ve heard of the Rainbow Bridge – not the one in Niagara Falls, but the poem. Written by an unknown author, it’s a heart-warming piece exchanged by animal lovers to bring comfort at the toughest moment we share with these fur-clad beings – the moment we say goodbye.
I continue to lose my heart to an endless stream of rescued beagles. Needless to say, I’m a firm believer in doggy heaven. This magical place came to life for me in the 1998 Robin Williams film, What Dreams May Come, where his character’s dearly departed dog was the first to welcome him to heaven. His angel guide later explained that you’re always greeted by those you loved most on earth in order to make the transition easier.
I knew Georgie less than 24 hours, and I never saw her again. But you can bet I count her among those I’ve loved most on Earth.
I learned about Georgie only a week before meeting her. She’d been dropped at a rural pound by someone claiming she was a stray. Georgie looked quite aged, but looks can be deceiving, especially when a dog is sick. The shelter manager was concerned: she couldn’t seem to catch her breath. But despite the laboured breathing, this little old dog had that spunk beagle lovers know by heart. It’s the kind that demands notice and makes you laugh on even the dullest day.
When nobody claimed her, the shelter staff bid her farewell with high hopes for her future with Big On Beagles (BOB) Rescue. We have a thing for spunky old-timers.
I met Georgie for the first time in a shopping mall parking lot. As always, I introduced myself with a kiss and explained the plan despite the language barrier – she would meet with our team of veterinarians and then start her happy new life with two dog-crazy foster parents out in the country.
It didn’t work out the way I planned.
Our veterinarians at Beaches Animal Hospital recognized an advanced case of untreated laryngeal paralysis. It was the first time I’d heard of it. The condition is caused by a malfunction of the muscles in the larynx, narrowing the airway and making it hard for the patient to take a deep breath. Like someone with asthma, the inability to breathe properly often leads to panic which obviously makes matters worse.
But such a disorder doesn’t happen overnight. Tell-tale signs such as excessive panting and easily tiring on walks usually prompt a concerned owner to make a trip to the vet for an early diagnosis.
Georgie now needed emergency surgery by a specialist which was arranged for the following morning.
We call ourselves the beagle repair shop but sometimes, we can’t fix what’s broken no matter how hard we try. We lost Georgie post-surgery – too much damage had already been done. She may have been a brave little soldier, but there would be no victory in this battle. It was time to thank the soldiers who fought along with her. Without our supporters, we couldn’t try as hard as we do, even if our efforts don’t always result in a happy, healthy and spunky beagle.
It’s been a month now since Georgie left us for the Rainbow Bridge. Here on Earth, our hearts are still healing as we prepare for our eighth Annual Beagle Bash For Cash in November.
This year, we’ll be unveiling our first beagle calendar. It wasn’t easy choosing only 12 beagles to grace its pages, but it did allow me to take a trip down memory lane. I’ve loved and lost many beagles since opening our repair shop in 2001. I fear the Rainbow Bridge might collapse when my time comes. But, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. In the meantime, I’ll keep rolling in that general direction playing chauffeur to beagles in need of a ride to recovery or at least, a lift to their final destination. Either way, they’re guaranteed a kiss on their spunky little nose and a permanent place in this beagle-loving heart.
This article is dedicated to Georgie and the team at the Central Toronto Veterinary Emergency Clinic. Georgie would have loved to attend the 8th Annual BEAGLE BASH FOR CASH on Nov. 24 at PawsWay from 1 to 3 p.m. For details, visit Big On Beagles (BOB) Rescue at bigonbeagles.ca.