God Questions Existence of Rainbow Bridge

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HEAVEN – Pet owners took one in the shorts from The Lord God Almighty today when He issued a press release in which He questioned the existence of the Rainbow Bridge, a mythical place just this side of heaven where deceased pets are made young and healthy again while they wait for their owners to join them.

According to popular but unsubstantiated belief, at the Rainbow Bridge all animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor, while those who were hurt or maimed are made whole. The animals are happy and content, but they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

The animals at Rainbow Bridge run and play together, until one of them, we’ll call him Old Yeller, suddenly stops and looks into the distance.

What is it boy? What do you see?

Old Yeller sees his former caregiver gliding across a cloud toward the Rainbow Bridge, draped in designer robes, smiling beatifically, and looking forty pounds and several chins lighter than the last time—or any other time—Old Yeller can remember. After a glorious reunion Yeller and his caregiver walk gaily over the Rainbow Bridge into heaven, where every day’s a great hair day and you never have to wait for a table.

“That’s a touching story,” said God, “but it’s a myth. Ever since human beings learned to scratch themselves and to walk upright at the same time they have sought comfort in their myths. The trouble is, myths do not reflect reality, they merely reflect the mindsets of the people who subscribe to them.”

The Lord God Almighty then went on to say that His questions about the Rainbow Bridge begin with the notion that “loved pets are made young and healthy again.” Why, God wanted to know, do only “loved” pets qualify for the cosmic makeover?

What about the German shepherd-serial killer mix chained to a tree in a back yard like a lawn ornament, a dog that isn’t allowed to sleep in the house at night and is finally “surrendered” at an animal shelter because he barks too much? If he doesn’t get adopted, will he be turned away at the Rainbow Bridge like some geek who shows up at a trendy nightspot in a pair of Wal-Mart jeans?

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If a meaningful relationship with humans is a prerequisite for admittance to the Rainbow Bridge and, ultimately, to heaven, what does that say about the human ego and the underlying assumptions of the human-animal bond?

What about the feral cat and her newborn kittens—alone, unwanted, and unloved—who die a lingering death outdoors or, if they’re lucky, are shown a humane exit in an animal shelter? Will they be denied a pass to the Rainbow Bridge because nobody loved them?

“I also wonder why pets need a human escort to enter heaven,” said God. “Do people really think heaven is like one of those condominium communities where all the window curtains have to be white and pets aren’t allowed to play in their back yards unless they’re accompanied by their owners? Why couldn’t animals wait inside heaven for their owners? Are there people in heaven who don’t like animals? If so, perhaps I ought to tighten up the entrance requirements.”

God’s questions didn’t stop there. He also asked what happens if a pet owner dies first? Do people think there’s a place where owners frolic and play while waiting for their pets? The Dollywood Bridge perhaps? The Great Hugh Hefner Mansion in the sky?

This who-goes-first question is not the final hanging chad on the Rainbow Bridge tally sheet either. Many people own several pets in a lifetime. What happens if an owner predeceases some of his pets? Will he have to wait at the Rainbow Bridge with his former pets, listening to the sounds of the heavenly choir wafting from across the way, until all his surviving pets have died?

What if an owner doesn’t have the board scores or the references to get into heaven? What becomes of her pets?

What happens if an animal’s owner dies, the animal gets adopted by person to whom that animal also becomes attached, and then the animal dies? With which owner does that animal live happily ever after? Are there custody fights at the Rainbow Bridge? A family court with some television or celebrity judge presiding?

“Obviously,” the Lord God Almighty concluded, “the Rainbow Bridge is a theory in need of a codicil. As it is presently constituted, the Rainbow Bridge is nothing more than a Disneyland rest stop without the leash regulations, something designed to help ameliorate human grief. Isn’t that why I invented prayer?”    

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