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What Is the Rainbow Bridge? The Incredible Story

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

cloud in a form of a dog standing on a rainbow

What Is the Rainbow Bridge? The Incredible Story

Rainbow Bridge is a poem that has brought comfort to grieving pet parents all over the world. In it, pets who die don’t immediately go to heaven but spend time in a beautiful place called Rainbow Bridge that is full of everything any dog could ever want, and dogs are all as happy and healthy as they were when in their primes.

The Rainbow Bridge is where dogs who have passed on wait for their dearly loved humans to join them, after which, reunited, they cross into eternity together. The poem has become one of the best-known pieces of pet-mourning literature.

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Who Wrote Rainbow Bridge?

The poem has an intriguing history. Although it is over six decades old, it started to become well-known in the 1990s when a copy appeared in a Dear Abby advice column that reached millions of readers. The person who sent the poem to the columnist found it in a local humane society publication and forwarded it, thinking it could provide comfort to people grieving the loss of a pet.

The version of the poem that Dear Abby received didn’t name an author, but she asked her readers to let her know if anyone had information about who had penned the work. Several people claimed credit over the years, but the author was recently identified as Edna Clyne-Rekhy, who wrote it after the death of her dog.

When Did Clyne-Rekhy Write Rainbow Bridge?

She wrote Rainbow Bridge in 1959 after the passing of her beloved Labrador Retriever named Major. The poem was composed the day after Major’s death. Clyne-Rekhy had a feeling that day that there was something she needed to create. She grabbed a piece of paper from a notebook and started writing. The words just flowed, and Clyne-Rekhy felt as if the poem were being written through her.

She wrote it by hand and crossed out a few words here and there. It turned out that she had grabbed a piece of paper from her sister’s notebook that had already been written on, so she had to do a bit of erasing to make room for the last parts of the poem. After showing it to her mother, Clyne-Rekhy put the poem away and moved on with her life.

Later, she allowed a few friends to see the poem, many of whom found the work so moving they asked for copies. Clyne-Rekhy obliged, making copies (without her name) for people she knew who wanted them.

When contacted by Paul Koudounaris, a scholar seeking to identify the author of the work, Clyne-Rehky was stunned to hear how popular her poem had become. She still has the original handwritten text of the work.

Clyne-Rehky has had several loving canine companions over the years and currently lives with two very special pups, an Andalusian Podenco named Zanussi and a Bichon Frisé named Missy.

rainbow bridge
Image Credit: Sealander, Shutterstock

Where Is Rainbow Bridge Commonly Found?

The poem is often given to grieving pet parents by veterinarians, and it’s frequently posted and passed around on social media to comfort and support individuals whose pets have died. The poem also appears on sympathy cards, and parts are sometimes inscribed on pets’ gravestones.

Because of the way it was dispersed, there are several versions of the text floating around. Koudounaris’ article has a picture of the handwritten original along with a transcription if you’re interested in taking a look.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Old Was Clyne-Rekhy When She Wrote the Poem?

Clyne-Rekhy was 19 when she wrote Rainbow Bridge. Although she grew up in a home with dogs, Clyne-Rekhy had a special relationship with Major.

Where Is Clyne-Rekhy From?

She’s originally from Scotland, and the poem was written in Inverness. Over the years, she’s lived in several countries, including India and Spain.

Rainbow image over dog
Image Credit: Zontica, Shutterstock

Who Is Paul Koudounaris?

Paul Koudounaris, who did the detective work that led to the identification of Clyne-Rekhy as the author of the poem, is a scholar with a PhD in Art History. He’s written several books, including The Empire of Death, Heavenly Bodies, Memento Mori, and A Cat’s Tale.

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Conclusion

Rainbow Bridge is a poem frequently given to grieving pet parents to provide solace. Although Edna Clyne-Rekhy was only recently identified as the author, she composed the work the day after the death of her dog, Major, in 1959.

The poem became well known in the 1990s after it was published in a Dear Abby advice column, where it reached millions of readers. Over the years, the work has provided comfort and brought peace to untold numbers of pet parents mourning their companions.

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Featured Image Credit: Elena Nechiporenko, Shutterstock

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