“Awww, what’s the matter Charlie? You never go without breakfast. Did you go out and find yourself another rabbit? Haven’t you learned in the last six years, that you can depend on me for your meals?” Michael razzed his loyal Irish Wolfhound. At 35 inches at the shoulder on all fours and an impressive 72 inches when standing on his hind feet, Charlie weighed in at 158 pounds. Michael had had him since he was seven weeks old, when he was flown over from Ireland, as a direct descendent of the Wolfhounds bred by the infamous Captain Graham Trophy.
Michael had had dogs all his life, but Charlie was what he liked to call his “it” dog. They shared a bond so special and so deep that they communicated on a level that most humans never achieve with one another.
In fact, Michael’s wife, Suzanne, could not help feel a little bit jealous of their relationship at times. Not only did Michael spend more time with Charlie, but he insisted that Charlie sleep with them in their queen sized bed.
Charlie’s deep chocolate eyes gripped Michael and he knew instantly that this was something more then indigestion. Because their connection ran so deep, Michael sensed that something was terribly wrong. As Charlie began to wretch and salivate, Michael immediately phoned his veterinarian. Michael was a well established client and known to be very level headed, so when he called demanding to be seen right away, he was not refused.
Suzanne by this time was at Michael’s side, and though she did not share in the deep friendship between her husband and Charlie, she knew that if anything happened to Charlie it would bring immeasurable pain to Michael. She told him that she would begin praying until she heard from his own lips that Charlie would indeed be just fine.
The ride to the clinic seemed to take an eternity even though it was only seven miles away. Charlie’s doctor admitted him right away and asked Michael a battery of questions. As hard as it was to stay focused, he knew his words were the only thing that could bridge the communication gap between the old veterinarian and his beloved friend.
After a thorough exam, the veterinarian used the words that Michael had feared he would hear. Numbness overtook Michael as the word bloat spread out like a dark cloud in the room. Having been an owner of many wolfhounds, Michael knew all too well what it was and how few dogs survived it. He already knew the options too. Surgery would be Charlie’s only chance and at a 30% survival rate, his chances were not good. But perhaps he had caught it early enough, perhaps their strong bond would pull Charlie through. He would take out a loan or max out his credit cards if he had to. Charlie would have surgery, of that he was sure.
With time being of the essence, he kissed his friend softly on the head, tears streaming down his cheeks. He signed the necessary forms for the surgery to take place. Charlie was whisked away for his emergency surgery, his only shot at survival.
Exactly 96 minutes later, for Michael was counting each and every one or them, the veterinarian rejoined him in the small, sterile exam room. With deep emotion he expressed his condolences. Charlie was no longer with him.
A pain ripped through Michael, keeping him grounded in this chair, for all strength had left his legs. “Oh, how could this be happening?! I don’t think I will ever feel whole again!” He cried for over an hour before excusing himself out the back door and making the short drive home.
Suzanne knew the moment she saw him, exactly what had happened. During her prayer time while Michael had been gone, she had felt prompted to retrieve an old column from the newspaper, to have it ready just in case. After a long and sincere embrace she handed the clipping to Michael. She said, “I know you are probably not ready to read this yet, but when you are, I hope it can bring you some peace.”
Then next day, tears fell fresh as Michael opened the small paper and read the words from the famous poem, “Rainbow Bridge”, anonymously written, but very well known. He hoped with all his might that they might be true.
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