Halloween at the Bridge 2007

Finally the hot, muggy days of Summer have given way to the cool crisp days of Autumn and, although at the Rainbow Bridge there is a separate air conditioner vent for each resident, all were relieved when things cooled down. Summer, except of course for the 4th of July and the many birthday celebrations, is a time to snooze and swim but now everyone is energized and ready for a party.

Halloween is always a big holiday at the Bridge because so many enjoyed it so much in their former lives. The residents remembered the ringing doorbells, lots of barking, bags of candy to be gobbled as treats, and costumes for all. Most especially, it was fun to let our humans dress us up and then let us stand in the door way when all of the neighborhood kids came to admire our costumes. Of course, for the cats, the holiday had less appeal. Not being fond of candy or costumes – and loathing interrupted naps –cats often listed Halloween as one of their least favorite holidays. But, of course, in the Land of the Rainbow Bridge, everything is somewhat different.

Roddy [Rottie] and Sampson [St. Bernard] have long been known to be two of the Bridge community's biggest party organizers. Soon after the Party for the 4th was over, the two met in their "office", a lovely area furnished with matching sofas that is under a large tree, to reminisce about Halloween and plan for this year's event. It is here in their office that most ideas for parties and parades begin as Roddy and Sampson recall their favorite times from their Earth life – and they each had many!

The 2007 Mayor of Rainbow Bridge, Tucker [Bernese Mountain Dog], officiating from his throne, sent out the invitations weeks ago and committees were formed for decorations, costumes, and treats. Josh [poodle mix], long the head designer at the Bridge, has taken on a new assistant, Jessie [lab/ Pit Bull] , and they have formed the dynamic J & J team who are pouring their creative geniuses into this year's costumes. Atticus J. Dog [lab/Pit Bull], long an admirer of Josh, begged to join the team and was warmly welcomed when he demonstrated his stunning sense of style and poodle-like aspirations.

Initially, there was a move to have a unified theme for the costumes but the cats, long known for their resistance to herding, vetoed that and voted everyone for him/herself. However, waivers were granted to special groups who had unique ideas. One such group was the United Rotties, led by Roddy. Famous for their striking plaid kilts and tams when they performed as the Rottie Piper Marching Band, they were looking for something unique. Miles and Mandy [Rotties] suggested police outfits but ultimately the group decided to go as a flock of skunks as suggested by Patachou [Rottie]. Kassa [black lab], a party girl from New Zealand, was thrilled to be invited to help them paint their white stripes. Attempts were made to replicate the skunk aroma but, after much discussion and a few disastrous attempts, the group decided against the plan for fear that they might be shunned at the banquet. Roddy later decided that the skunk suit was a little understated for his personality so he had Josh help him convert the black and white look to a Chippendale dancer outfit. Accompanying him was the Iceman and the Bridge's Rainbow Girl of 2007, Sadie [Great Dane], in her shimmering costume reflecting every color and hue of the Rainbow.

Zachary [Rottie], deciding that the whole skunk idea was a bad one because he couldn't decide which of his endless wardrobe of scarves would be appropriate, was put in charge of party favors. Always dapper and impeccably groomed, he carefully selected the finest fabrics and commissioned a new and different scarf for each of the Bridge's residents.

The Josh, Jessie, and Atticus design team was swamped with orders and had to recruit additional staff. Believing that a little feline PR couldn't hurt business, they appointed Spori the Viking cat as their Assistant-in-Charge-of-Cat-Costumes. Spori, ever proud of his Icelandic heritage, always dressed – even for everyday – in his Viking helmet and horns. He was soon joined by Sparky, who agreed to work overtime in exchange for extra Catnip [now that he's permanently sworn off the 12-step Catnip plan], and Annie [grey tabby] who was proud of her new prestigious position as Assistant Feline Designer.

Atticus – a true style-setter and new member of the costume design team – arrived at the Costume Shop daily in his bright yellow VW convertible, after a quick swing through Starbucks. He often wore specially designed Jerry Garcia scarves that were custom made at Zachary's newly opened Scarf Boutique and was a regular at Bear [Norwegian Elkhound] and Jagger's [white GSD] place where he joined the pre-theater crowd for a few appletinis.

Among the first to place his costume order was Ben [Golden Retriever] who decided to dress as a large Bunny, thus affording him the opportunity to mingle with his favorite friends. Having sworn a non- aggression pact with the bunnies, he was somewhat reluctantly welcomed as part of the group. Jake, too, tried to fit into the wildlife group with his squirrel suit. Unfortunately, Bandit [Bernese Mountain Dog] realized something was not quite right and barked a tattle tale bark to the Bridge's Head Squirrel. The squirrels were not fooled for a second as Jake [Rottie], former Mayor of the Bridge, was well-known as the champion of squirrel chases. Keeping a keen eye on the whole squirrel situation was KD [Rottie], who could "freeze" for long periods of time while carefully observing the squirrels.

Other costumes ordered early included a crisp white lab coat with stethoscope by Murphy who assisted his newly arrived little sister, Lillie, with her choice of a ballerina's tutu. Xena [Rottie] chose a patriotic Betsy Ross outfit and Aiden [Great Dane] chose to dress as an Orkin Insect Control person, one of her secret heroes. Not to be outdone was Cruiser [Great Pyrenees], one of the Bridge's newest residents. He ordered a custom-made race car driver's outfit conspicuously decorated with Canadian maple leaves and a fully equipped race car, no doubt a hemi. Similarly attired to Cruiser, and another Canadian, was Jessie [yellow lab/pit bull], famous for all of his travels. He, however, decided against the race car and opted for his favorite Eurovan. And since everything is possible in the Land of the Rainbow Bridge, Cash [Dalmatian] ordered a shiny brand new full-sized fire truck. He was smartly dressed in his helmet and suit and, for the first time ever, got to be the driver! He was accompanied by his new girlfriend Tache [Dalmatian], and Charley and Champ [Cocker spaniels] who were known for their fondness for trucks. Riding in the front with Cash and Tache was Abby [lab/Chow], wearing a headband with flashing lights and Mousie who wildly pressed the siren. Foster [Bernese], who had a particular talent for howling loudly on command, rode on the back and provided additional sound effects. Toohey [Bern/lab] wagged his tail excitedly as part of the entire fire brigade as did Inky [black Chow/lab], dressed as a cinder.

Choosing to go as the 2007 Swimsuit Edition trio were Ebony, Elly, and Bracken. Wearing their new bikinis, flower leis, straw hats, and most astonishing flip-flops, they were quite dazzling. Smokey Bear and his brother Ruddy [Dobermans] chose to go as ice cream cones. Henry [yellow lab] happily assisted by wrapping their heads in pink and white foam and their bodies in brown waffle-print cardboard. So astonishing were their costumes that others asked to join the ice cream group. Tara [Mastiff] was particularly wowed and gave a big bark of approval. Penny [black Great Dane] and her two black cats, Misty and Bob, invited Tara to join their group and they went as Goldilocks and the three bears. Roxanne [Doberman] dressed as a large purple bunny to replicate her favorite walking companion. Sengha [Scottish Deerhound] and her new best friend Gabriella [Great Dane] brought their double-wide baby stroller full of plush babies to be decorated by the team. Admiring the many babies and commenting on how much they resembled Gabriella was Aussi in his Mufasa, the Lion King, costume.

Hans [German Short-haired Pointer] and Kodiak [Rottie] were elected as Chairmen of the Food Committee. Hans decided to specialize in the desserts, most especially his favorite cookies, placing Kodiak – now well-known among the residents as a connoisseur of fine dining – in charge of the main entrees. Being a Surf `n Turf kind of guy, Kodiak selected the finest filet mignon for the canines and a lovely lobster bisque, made with heavy cream of course, for the felines with an appetizer of jumbo shrimp for all. Simba, the Sumo-size cat, was so thrilled that weight is not an issue at the Rainbow Bridge that he purchased a new tureen-sized bowl for the event. Emma, herself a maven of desserts, oversaw the making of home-made ice cream for the feast. Of course, Sampson [St. Bernard] and Jonah Bear [Great Pyrenees] as always assured that there were generous supplies of hot dogs and Frosty Paws. Cooper [Dobie] and Molach [Irish wolfhound] were named Chiefs of Counter-Surfing Prevention for this year's banquet and stood guard as the many tables were being set and the buffet was spread. Standing by to be sure everyone was served and received their favorite dishes was Rigsby [Rhodesian Ridgeback]. As a recent newcomer to the Bridge, his courage and kindness were already well-known. In his splendid Lion of Africa costume, Rigsby was most impressive and the residents marveled not only at his elegant appearance but also at his extraordinary thoughtfulness and attentiveness.

Among the new events at the 2007 Halloween at the Bridge was the pumpkin bowling contest. Dakota [Pyr] and his brother Boulder [Golden] were tasked with selecting pumpkins of various sizes, from the tiny ones for Peanut and the other Chihuahuas to the basketball sized ones for Sampson, Roddy, and Jonah Bear. Chance and Smokey [horses] happily offered to pull the cart loaded with pumpkins to the bowling area. They were followed by Runt [Rottie], who carried their feed bucket in case a quick snack was needed along the way. Bunnies and goats were recruited to "mow" an area to be the bowling alley and then competing teams were quickly formed. Straws were drawn and first to play were the Huge and Hefties vs. the Agility Aces. Captain of the Hefties was Sampson [St. Bernard] – who could see better with one eye than others could with two. Other Huge and Hefties included Cookie and Beethoven [St. Bernards]; Tara [Mastiff]; Blue [Rottie] who qualified in the St. Bernard category; Augie [Newfoundland]; and the Pyr group: Jonah Bear, Callei, Tom, Clondyke, Cruiser, and Turbo. The loyal and strong Berners joining the H&H team were Barney, the newly elected captain of the Berners, and Tinka, Samson, Simmy, and Sunny: all were proudly wearing their Union Jack jackets. The Aces included Nika and Grifter [Dobermans]; Duncan and Flashdancer [Aussies]; Barkley, Cash and Daty [Dalmatians]; Kelsie [golden], and Trinka who could run so fast her feet barely touched the ground. The spectators quickly became rambunctious and Anton [German Shepherd], the Bridge's Sheriff, was summoned to restore order. He was accompanied by his new assistants, Baron [Rottie] the Enforcer and Hans [German Shepherd]. They arrived in their new squad car with all the lights flashing and sirens blaring.

The pumpkin bowling event came to an abrupt halt as a small pumpkin was dropped nearby the throne of the Mayor, Tucker, a spectator at the event. Sierra [Rottie] and her partner in mischief Mindy [calico cat] had been able to sneak past the crowd to place the tiny pumpkin near Tucker. It turned out to be a toy musical pumpkin that played "Happy Halloween", sending Tucker into a tiz. As he quickly backed away for it, Jazzy [Rottie] was spinning wildly in her famous helicopter imitation. Shayla [Rottie], hoping to divert Tucker's attention away from the musical pumpkin, quickly rolled over, all 4 feet in the air, for her "road kill" impersonation. Tyler, Bear [Norwegian Elkhound], and Jagger [German Shepherd] were wildly impressed with Shayla but Sydney quickly stepped up to inform them that she was in a "committed relationship" with him.

While Tucker recovered his composure, Roddy and Sampsom summoned the attention of the residents for an important announcement. All residents would go Trick-or-Treating together at 8 PM. Lodi [pit bull], who had accumulated many years of wisdom in various shelters, raised a paw. "If we all go at the same time, who will answer the doors and give out the treats???" The crowd became hushed as they remembered that in past years cats and dogs alternated turns trick or treating at the Bridge. Sydney [Rottie], with an upright Shayla at his side, stepped forward and, with a mischievous grin, reiterated that ALL residents were to go at the same time this year. Clearly Sydney had a secret plan.

While many of the residents were getting into their costumes, Sheba [Chow], Rudy [who had abandoned his ice cream cone costume and was now dressed as a well-known Presidential candidate] [Rottie], Trixie [golden, Collie], Cleo [Rottie], and Holly [Lab/Sheltie] decided to take in a movie. Ozzy stood at the entrance of the Bridge's IMAX Theater to greet all of the residents. Showing was one of their favorite films, "Cats and Dogs". Everyone was thrilled to see that Misty [Rottie/Pyr] was in attendance as her paws smelled like buttered popcorn and her ears were like cinnamon. Everyone rushed to get a seat near her. As the many sofas filled up with the canine residents, it became apparent that none of their feline friends were in attendance. Henry [yellow lab] went out to issue a special invitation to them. He encountered Spori the Viking cat [in his daily Viking horns and helmet] and, after many promises that there'd be plenty of room on the sofas, Spori agreed to assess the feline's interest. Unfortunately, there were no takers as the afternoon was already committed to serious napping and intensive grooming. Casey [Maine cooncat], though he usually loved movies, was spending his afternoon taking a leisurely bubble bath. Arriving late for the movie, but early to be dressed in their costumes, were Missy and Little Bear [St. Bernards]. Dressed as bride and bridesmaid, they were on the lookout for Sampson, hoping he'd be looking like a groom.

As the sun finally set in the Land of the Rainbow Bridge, the parrots, canaries, cockatoos, and parakeets organized a huge flyover to escort all of the residents who were having their first Halloween at the Bridge. Among them were Cruiser, Rigsby, Hefner, Missy, Kobe, Bracken, Roxanne, Bunnie and his brother Hans, Ben, Foster, Annie, Tara, Brandy, Jessie, Emma, Mandy, Lillie and her brother Murphy who were accompanied by their Grandmother, Patachou, Smokey Bear and Ruddy, Hans, Kodiak, Barney, Hector, Logan, Rock, Sophia, and Sierra. Soon the playground was filled with residents in their costumes – as far as the eye could see – eagerly awaiting the start of Trick-or-Treat and admiring each other's costumes. Mufasa [black lab mix] , and Aussi in his Lion King costume were sent to the top of the Bridge's biggest hill to watch for the porch lights to come on. Mufasa, knowing exactly when it was turning 8 PM, led them back down the hill just as the clock chimed.

The residents quickly went in every direction toward all of the houses but still without anyone figuring out who was going to answer the doors and give out the treats. As doorbells began to ring throughout the Land of the Rainbow Bridge, and the first doors were opened, all of the residents were thrilled to see, for just a few minutes, their whole Earth families standing in each and every door way, holding out their favorite treats from long past Halloweens. And amid much laughter, love, hugs, and candy, another wonderful Halloween at the Bridge came to an end.

© Susan Benedict 2007

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