Over the Rainbow Bridge…

Yesterday morning, a wise old dog taught me a hard lesson. That as much as there is a time to be born, there is a time to die and no matter how hard we might try to fight or change the overall scheme of things, that is a hard and unrelenting fact.

It is what it is.

Yesterday morning, the kids came racing in while I was still asleep and trying to pretend it was Monday morning, crying that Bilbo our beloved Border Collie, was dead. Even though we’d taken Bilbo to the vet and knew the prognosis wasn’t good, he’d perked up a bit and we had reason to hope. Indeed, even as the news hit, I still hoped the kids had got it wrong. That he was just asleep.

As you can see, I can stretch hope beyond the bounds of reason, and well into the realms of imagination. I can even stretch it further…something I blame on being a poet.

Bilbo had died seemingly peacefully in the backyard near his beloved Jacaranda tree. He clearly didn’t suffer. That’s a relief. It should be relief enough. However, I’m human. Indeed, I’m more human than I thought, because far from being made of stone after all we’ve been through, I am emotionally distraught. I’ve cried, but I’ve also had the strength to be there for the kids and answer their questions and reassure them, as much as I could, that everyone around them isn’t about to pass away too.

Bilbo with ball

Bilbo with his ball. Actually, that’s another dog’s ball. Humph! Just call him obsessed!

We buried Bilbo in the backyard with one of his many tennis balls and I sprinkled rose petals into his grave. In other words, we gave him the same kind of send off we’d do for any family member, although his was more intimate…just Geoff and myself.

Meanwhile, I know this is going to hurt for awhile.

Another aspect to Bilbo, is that he has been quite a feature here on my blog and has even written a few posts himself and has his own extensive circle of human and dog friends. I am grateful to not only have these memories, but it means so much to have shared Bilbo with you and that you have at least come to know him in part. It is no exaggeration to say, he was a four-legged angel. He loved us so completely with every cell in his being. I have never had any doubt that he would die protecting us either, giving us such a sense of safety and security. Yet, he wasn’t your bounding extrovert. He was actually a deep-thinking, somewhat melancholy introvert. I always described him as that bloke standing in the corner of the pub keeping to himself and holding his beer. He never jumped up on anyone. That’s Lady.

Fortunately, we still have our other dog, Lady. She’s an incredibly happy dog, who is forever wagging her tail. Indeed, she was wagging her tail at Bilbo and I couldn’t help thinking that, just like me, she was telling Bilbo to wake up.

“The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”

-Mark Twain: Letter to W.D. Howells, 2 April 1899.

So, when I think of Bilbo walking over the Rainbow Bridge, I hope that he’s found a fill in family with the kind of tireless energy required to keep throwing his tennis ball…time after time. With his new, revitalized energy, they’ve going to need it.

RIP Bilbo…19th November, 2006 – 26th June, 2017.




Bilbo going home

Saturday’s visit to the beach turned out to be his last. He laboured up and down the beach like an aged warrior and only managed a few laboured attempts to chase his ball. Mostly, it just rolled into the water. Lady doesn’t chase balls or sticks, preferring ย to roll in dead anything instead.


39 thoughts on “Over the Rainbow Bridge…

  1. Fatima Fakier Deria

    Animals hold places in our hearts that humans just cannot touch, sometimes it really feels this way. Dear Rowena, I feel your pain. And what an awesome dog he seemed to have been.

  2. Midwestern Plant Girl

    I will miss the stories about Bilbo. He had a personality like my Breck. A cool cucumber that knew he was cool!
    Dogs just tend to crawl up into your heart farther than you expect, until they are gone. Then you realize the hole they’ve left.
    I send you hugs and a treat for Lady. I hope she is ok. ๐Ÿ’™

  3. merrildsmith

    So sorry for your loss, Rowena. Pets are definitely part of the family, and we grieve when they are gone because we loved them and miss them. I hope Lady doesn’t grieve for him too much. I’m glad Bilbo didn’t suffer. Sending you virtual hugs. โค

  4. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Merril. I needed those hugs tonight and they’re much appreciated. It’s been a tough couple of days, especially for the kids. They don’t know a world without him and my daughter in particular, had a lot of questions.
    We were out last night and that helped distract us but tonight, we were home and Bilbo has been up on my lap every night for 10 years and that was hard and Lady was being spread rather thin across the four of us. I guess that means we get a paw each.
    Take care xx Rowena

  5. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much. It’s much appreciated and Lady send you a huge tail wag.
    You expressed so well how dogs become part of you and the grief when they are gone.
    I’ve read soemthing about Borders liking good manners and not being impressed with dogs who are over-friendly and undignified. He was a fierce watch dog and if I was seeing someone out the door, as soon as the door shut, he’d start barking at them as though he’d never met them. The only person he didn’t bark at like this was my Mum who he’d known all his life and Mum often brough him ham scraps. I also suspect he knew she was family.
    Hard to say whether Lady is okay. Her appetite is more than fine. Indeed, she’s going on a diet.
    Lady is going to have to get a few stories of her own going. Start writing.
    Thanks so much and I hope you are having a better week.
    xx Rowena

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much, Fatima. It’s been really comforting to hear from people like yourself who share and understand what it’s like to be close to your pets and to lose them. It can be hard to explain and such a relief when people get it. I had a few friends drop round flowers from their garden today…beautiful camelias and I was so touched.
    I have written quite a lot about Bilbo through the years on my blog and I’ll be putting a compilation out soon.
    Thanks once again and I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow night’s prompt brings.
    xx Rowena

  7. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much, Geoff. It’s been so hard. I’m really glad I got him down to the beach once last time on Saturday and took those photos. I have a friend I catch up with there and he was there with his dogs. He always throws the ball to Bilbo and when Bilbo couldn’t chase it, we both knew he was in trouble. He also warned me not to walk him too far in case he collapsed. That was a reasonable consideration as he was about 25kgs at the end. Once we got to the vet, he was told to rest.
    Now, Lady’s having to multi-lap. She’s a bit like that the last person standing after the rest of the department and has to take on everybody’s responsibilities. While not having to share might seem like a bonus, being the only one might not be as glamorous as it seems. I am also aware that Lady can not eat all our scraps and needs to diet. This is what also happens when you’re the only one. You also get undesired attention as well.
    We will probably get another Border Collie down the track. How far down the track remains to be seen. I am trying to be practical, which as you’d know, isn’t my strength.
    Thanks one again for your thoughts. Much appreciated.
    Best wishes,

  8. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Sue. I was talking to my mum tonight and she said he’d been cannonised, which is kind of true. He was such a special dog and he’s left such a void behind.
    xx Rowena

  9. maxwellthedog

    Such sad news. Bilbo’s was a life well lived, giving and receiving love from you and your family. A happy life, meaningful, of value. We never met him but we mourn him because your tales brought him into our lives. too, and for that we are grateful. Our hearts go out to you all. Bilbo was a good dog.

  10. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Tom. It’s much appreciated. Bilbo was quite a character with all his quirks and ball obsession, but he’s loyalty and connection with us knew no bounds and we loved him and he loved us without restriction. I never even thought about the inevitable, the way you do when you’re dating and weighing up how much to “invest” in your new love interest so you don’t get burned. I know you’re like this with Max to. You give all without even thinking about the inevitable loss. I think loving your dog is the closest you come to the ultimate relationship…the fulfillment of love.
    Lady will now have to step up and do a bit of lap hopping around the family. I am also having to ensure she doesn’t get all the scraps. She used to be a much smaller dog.
    Best wishes,

  11. maxwellthedog

    I like to imagine that Bilbo’s now hanging out at the local pooch pub, telling non-Oz pups scary tales of drop bears, yowies and the yara-ma-yha-who whilst quaffing a pint of doggie bitter and mocking the tourists for ordering Fosters. Probably keeps a well-bitten ball on the bar next to his elbow.

  12. Minuscule Moments

    So Sorry to hear about your beautiful dog, it is hard for the kids and you expect them to be around forever but you were blessed to have him in your life. I have treasured memories of all my childhood pets. Big Hugs xxxx

  13. Tails Around the Ranch

    Such sad, sad news, Ro. Bilbo was a lovely pet whose life was shared with all of us. We mourn your loss and pray tender memories provide you and your family some small amount of comfort. Extra ear scratches for Lady whose life has also been affected. RIP sweet boy.๐Ÿ’”

  14. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much, Monika. I really appreciate your wishes, especially as you love your dogs like we love ours and know they’re so much more than “pets”.
    I sat up with my daughgter the other night and she was reading some of the posts I’d written about him and it brought her such comfort. She was so upset and I wasn’t sure what was going to break the circuit and get her to bed. She stayed up until 1.15am. Ouch! Lady has been very quiet. I think she’s barked 3 times since Bilbo passed and two of those were fairly agro ones at that. Lady got on my blog today and had a big chat amnd is feeling a little better.
    I have started thinking about training Lady to be a therapy dog. I thought she’d be good with young people. She gets so happy and wags her tail a lot. She really loves meeting people. Not sure how well she’d go on the obedience front though and she is a repeat food thief.

  15. Tails Around the Ranch

    I know exactly what your story is all about. It’s so emotionally hard especially on the kids. With some time, I hope everyone returns to feeling more at peace soon. Hugs ๐Ÿ˜

  16. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Kath. Losing Bilbo has been very hard on the family. We knew he was getting older but he could still chase that tennis ball with obsessive persistence and he was constantly on the go at the beach. However, dogs can go down fairly quickly and in hindsight, he’s been a bit off for a few weeks.
    Our daughter had two nights where she became very upset and was up until 1.15am and I had tried everything trying to break the circuit. She started worrying about my parents dying, my brother and Lady and it was so intense and her sadness so raw. I did my best to comfort her but it’s going to need time. I’m going through fishing out photos and I’ll go through the blog and put his stories together. That will be very precious.
    Best wishes,

  17. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Sue. I can’t imagine Bilbo’s spirit going anywhere or him even crossing the rainbow bridge by himself. He was our dog and he was quite an introvert and it took him awhile to warm up to people. I always said he was the dog equivalent of that bloke standing by himself in the corner at the pub drinking his beer.
    xx Rowena

  18. Rowena Post author

    I love that Tom. That’s the perfect eulogy for him and it really brought a smile.
    It’s really meant the world to me being able to share my grief with friends like yourself who know what Bilbo meant to us through the blog. I am wanting to feel and work through my grief, rather than pretending it’s not there or minimizing it by denying who Bilbo was and that he was a true member of our family. Too many people have to create a bright side and can’t just sit with bad news as it is. However, life goes on and you do need to be functional. In my case, the family is constantly needing to be fed and taxiied so I can’t nose-dive completely.
    BTW Lady has written a post you’ll appreciate today and she sends her regards to Max.

  19. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much, Monika. Fortunately, we have two weeks of school holidays where we can unwind a bit. I was feeling in need of a holiday before he passed away but now I feel like staying home with Lady and going out for day trips and taking her with us. You know how she’s loved to get out and I’m concerned this could get worse without Bilbo here.
    Funny looking at her curled up in her dog bed, she just looks like a ball of black fluff. You’d never ever expect her to be naughty!!

  20. trentpmcd

    I’ve been out of town and haven’t been reading the blogs so i just saw this. I’m very sorry – they are our children despite the fur and it is hard when they “go over the rainbow bridge”.

  21. Rowena Post author

    It’s so sad, isn’t it!! I have bene thinking of you and Chika as well. My friend lost her 16 year old border the same night we lost Bilbo. I feel the stars must be shining a little brighter with them up there. xx Ro

  22. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Trent. It has been quite heartbreaking and difficult to explain things to the kids. I am feeling that I am starting to settle and it is not so hard. At the same time, it’s still hard to believe that he’s gone. I’m really grateful for all the stories and photos on the blog and will be putting them together.
    xx Rowena

  23. Minuscule Moments

    Hugs to you, its hard to watch our kids grieve but its a sad fact of life with the kids the are able to move forward quicker than adults, mine did and down the track when other pets died they seemed to deal a bit better with it. Hard lesson for all of us Rowena xxxx

  24. Rowena Post author

    Yes, definitely lots of lessons in there and they are ultimately good for us, although they hurt so much at the time. I do believe in making kids more resilient but there’s such a strong instinct to protect them.
    Hope you’re enjoying the holidays.
    Best wishes, Ro

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