HEAVEN – Pet owners took one in the shorts today when The Lord God Almighty 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. The animals are happy and content, but they each miss someone special who had to be left behind.
While waiting at the Rainbow Bridge, animals run and play and hump each other, until one of them, we’ll call him Old Yeller, suddenly stops and looks intently into the distance.
What is it boy? Whaddaya see, huh?
Old Yeller sees his former caregiver gliding across a cloud toward the Rainbow Bridge, draped in glorious 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, all the restaurants accept pets, and there’s never a wait for a table.
“That’s a touching story,” said God, “too bad it’s totally bogus. Ever since humans learned to walk upright and to scratch themselves at the same time, they have sought refuge in their myths. Trouble is, myths do not reflect reality, they merely reflect the delusions of the people who subscribe to them.
“Why, for example, are only ‘loved pets’ made young and healthy again? Why don’t all pets qualify for a cosmic makeover?”
Goddamn right! What about the German shepherd-serial killer mix chained to a tree in a back yard like a lawn ornament, a dog that 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?
What about the feral cat and her newborn kittens, condemned to a lingering death outdoors or, if they’re lucky, to a humane exit in an animal shelter? Will they be denied a pass to the Rainbow Bridge because nobody loved them? Is there a limbo for animals like these?
“Furthermore, why do pets need a human escort to enter heaven,” said God. “Do people 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, 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, listening to the sounds of the heavenly choir wafting from across the way? The Dollywood Bridge perhaps? The Great Trump Tower in the sky? And what if an owner doesn’t have the board scores or the references or the “politically correct” viewpoints to get into heaven? What becomes of her pets?
Finally, what happens when a pet owner dies, his pet is adopted by a new owner, and then the pet dies? When that pet gets to the Rainbow Bridge, do she and her first owner go waltzing into heaven, or must they wait around for the new owner to croak, then submit to a custody hearing to determine which owner will provide that pet with a “forever home”?
“Obviously,” the Lord God Almighty concluded, “the Rainbow Bridge is a theory in need of a codicil. As it is presently imagined, the Rainbow Bridge is nothing more than a Disneyland rest stop without the leash regulations, something else designed to help ameliorate human grief. Isn’t that why I invented prayer?”
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