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The Rainbow Bridge Explained – What Is The Rainbow Bridge?

The Rainbow Bridge is something most of us have heard of.  We may even have used the term our selves. This is a term that pet owners use when their beloved pet passes away.  It is a green pasture with endless food and water.

Have you ever wondered where this term came from and asked your self what exactly is the “Rainbow Bridge”? Well, the Rainbow Bridge is a poem about a place where all dogs go once they die. They stay in this place until they are reunited with their human whom they had a special bond with their entire life. This poem was created to help relieve pet owners of the loss of their pet. Read on for The Rainbow Bridge Explained.

What is the Rainbow Bridge?

The Rainbow Bridge is a heaven-like place where all pets go when they pass.  It is said to be a sunny place with a green meadow and a beautiful multi-colored bridge. The pet will inevitably end up in heaven by walking over the rainbow crossing. They first have to wait for their human companion to join them. The human has to die in order to be reunited with their beloved pet. Once they are reunited, they can then cross the rainbow bridge together, and enter heaven.

There was a poem from the 1980s and 1990s that is believed to have been made for people to help them get through the loss of their beloved pet.  The poem states, upon the death of a pet, the pet will end up in a field of green filled with lots of sunshine.  In this place, the pet has no ailments and is able to run and play as it did when it was younger and is provided with endless food and water. 

It is in this place that the pet waits for its human to die and they are reunited in the grassland.  The two best friends will then cross the Rainbow Bridge to heaven where they will spend eternity. 

What Is The Story?

The story of the rainbow bridge for pets could have been based on another story. This is a story that Thor fans have heard of.  If you guessed the Bifrost bridge then you guessed correct. The Bifrost in Thor was a burning rainbow bridge that was a path between Midgard (Earth) and Asgard, the realm and home of Thor and other gods on Asgard. So that being said, the bridge concept could have come from the Asgardians Rainbow Bridge.

The Green Meadow

A book by Margaret Marshall Saunders called Beautiful Joe’s Paradise is where the first reference of the green meadow, a place where pets go after death and await their human companion so that they can cross the rainbow bridge together and enter heaven.

This book is a sequel to Beautiful Joe. The book that helped with raising animal cruelty awareness. It was about the life of a dog named Beautiful Joe who lived in Meaford, Ontario, Canada.

 Beautiful Joe’s Paradise is a book that tells of pets that wait for their human companion in a luscious green meadow.  These pets help each other and heal from the cruelty they went through during their time on earth. The book, however, does not mention the Rainbow Bridge but the pets do eventually reach heaven by balloon. 

Who Wrote the Original Rainbow Bridge Poem?

The first appearance of the Rainbow Bridge in relation to animals is believed to come from a poem by Paul C. Dahm, a grief counselor in Oregon. See below for the poem is prose style.

Original Poem By Paul C. Dahm

“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….”

What a great poem. It is sad and happy at the same time. I’m not going to lie, I had a few tears in my eyes reading this beautiful piece of writing.

How Did The Rainbow Bridge Term Become Popular

This poem ending up becoming popular because of a man named Steve Bodofsky and his wife Diane. They were a couple that owned and operated a ferret rescue. They really loved the poem by Paul C. Dahm, but thought it could use a little more flare to bring out the rhyme.

The husband and wife duo came up with their own version of the Rainbow Bridge poem, but this time it was a rhyming version.  See below:

Revised Version with Rhyme

“By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,

Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.

Where the friends of man and woman do run,

When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,

Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.

On this golden land, they wait and they play,

Till the Rainbow Bridge, they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,

For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.

Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,

Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,

Until one day they start and sniff at the air.

All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,

Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;

Together again, both person and pet.

So they run to each other, these friends from long past,

The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,

Has turned into joy once more in each heart.

They embrace with a love that will last forever,

And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

After receiving good feedback, they worked with a design artist to help them create Rainbow Bridge sympathy cards which became quite popular and got the name out into the world.

Bridge Memorials

The term Rainbow Bridge became incredibly popular due to the fact that the majority of pet owners see their pet like family, not just an animal. Losing a pet is very sad and emotional, so the thought of being able to reunite with a beloved pet is very uplifting in a time of sorrow and grief.

You can now buy Rainbow Bridge memorials like windchimes for your pet, or to bestow upon a friend or family member who has lost their pet.

The chimes come in different colors just like a rainbow. All chimes have a personal remembrance seal at the end of the chime that catches the wind and makes a beautiful sound.


So there you have it. It is said that all pets enter the green pasture and wait for their human companion to cross the bridge together, and enter heaven.

For those animals that did not have an owner during their life, it is said that they go straight to heaven and that the Bridge is for those pets that want to cross into heaven with their owners who are still alive. So they wait in the meadow until their human can join them.

You can see how this term became very popular with pet owners. It gives them the hope that they will be reunited with their beloved pet in the afterlife.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does It Mean To Cross The Bridge?

According to the poem, when a pet dies it goes over to the green meadow where there is a rainbow bridge. The pet waits in the meadow with all the other pets who have passed, and they are all restored to good health and have access to endless water and food. Once their human companion dies, they are reunited in the meadow and cross the rainbow bridge and enter heaven together.

Is There A Rainbow Bridge For Cats?

The rainbow bridge is meant for all pets and their owners. The cat will go to the meadow once it passes and will wait there for its guardian while having access to unlimited water and food as well as playing and getting into mischief with other cats. Once the cat’s human companion passes, the two will be reunited in the green pasture and cross the rainbow bridge together.

What about a Bridge For Animals Who Have No Owners?

It has been said that all animals who did not have an owner will go directly to heaven. They do not go the green meadow and wait because they, unfortunately, have no one to wait for. However, these animals go straight to heaven where they get to have all the fun they can have for eternity.


  1. Wikipedia-
  2. Google Scholar –
  3. American Kennel Club –

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