Thanksgiving at the Bridge


Where the turkey is boneless and the tuna is plentiful

All of the citizens of the Rainbow Bridge began gathering early on the crisp autumn morning of Thanksgiving to go to the day’s celebration. The parrots and cockatoos greeted the members of the huge procession with swooping flyovers. Cats walked with dogs, and fish rode on cats. Birds lifted small kittens on their backs for the trip. Greyhounds carried rabbits and ducks perched on the backs of the Labradors. And Peanut [Chihuahua] led them all with a Parakeet on her shoulder. They arrived early in the meadow at the foot of the Bridge where Zachary gave each a special Thanksgiving bandana. As the sun rose to warm them, the residents all gave thanks for their friends at the Bridge, and most especially for their families not yet there. They pulled their Magic Easter Eggs from their fur-lined pockets for a quick glimpse home and saw that all was well with their families. They could smell the turkeys roasting and feel the mashed potatoes on their lips. Their tummies rumbled as they raised their noses to catch whiffs of the aromas coming from the Bridge Kitchen.

Knowing that all was well on Earth – and that they were always loved and missed – gave the Bridge residents a full and happy day to feast, play, nap, and feast some more. As always, Samson [Berner], the Party Animal Extraordinare, kicked off the festivities and Sharpy [Shar Pei] was the usual Master of Ceremonies. They were accompanied by Jake [Rottie], the newly elected Mayor of the Bridge, and, of course, HRH Hannibal.

As you now know, the Bridge residents love a good parade. Every big occasion starts with one and Thanksgiving was very special. As the floats and bands began to assemble on the beautifully decorated Main Street, ‘Dozer the Sheriff and his associates Anton, Gabriel, Snow, Sam, Sheba, Drifter, Jogger, and Shiloh [German Shepherds] made sure that the crowd of observers stayed behind the velvet ropes and that the smaller ones got to be in the front.

Leading the parade as the honored participants were those who were having their first Thanksgiving at the Bridge. The Welcome Wagon was pulled by Roddy and was filled with the newest feline residents including Tuvok, Spori the Viking cat, and Muddy Waters. Marching proudly behind were Barkley and Cash [Dalmatians], Moose, Rocky, Pepe, Tazz – who brought his green frog and did wild spins as he walked in the procession - Zachary [Rottie], Leo, Moses, and Barney [terrier] who was greeted by loud cheers from Uncle Benji and Aunt Shaggy [bearded collies] waving from the crowd. The newcomers were proudly carrying their Magic Easter Eggs which had been given to them, along with comprehensive instructions, by Sydney [Rottie], CICMEE [Chief-in-Charge of the Magical Easter Eggs]. They were escorted by the drum majorettes, Steffie and Punkin (Shih Tzu), and the beautiful red-winged Skye.

The marching band was conducted by BJ [Schnauzer] and was accompanied by the singing Basset Hounds and the Howling Huskeys. Special renditions were done of “O Canada” and “America the Beautiful”. As flags of other nations were seen in the crowds, other anthems were added including “God Defend New Zealand”, “Our Country’s God [Iceland] and “God Save the Queen”. Athos [collie], well know for his vocal skills, had studied especially hard and had learned all of the words to these and other national anthems.

Because all good things can happen at the Bridge – and one is not bound by convention – Josh [poodle], the Bridge’s head designer, assisted by Little Guy, Petey, and Tanya [poodles] created Thanksgiving costumes for all who wished. Spori, of course, looked mighty in his Viking suit. Miss Buns, still Rabbit of the Year at the Bridge, chose to recycle her Chocolate Bunny cloak from Easter. The unfortunate mishap with Shanti’s [rotti] licking of the cloak was no longer visible, thanks to Josh and his team. The rest of the crowd chose costumes more in line with the holiday. Dressed as turkeys were the whole Rotti gang: Zachary, Miles, Sydney, Shayla, Shaye, Bones, Roddy, Shanti, Chaos, Player, Lady, Basse, Jake, Maggie Mae, Mandy, Cujo, and Megan. To prepare their costumes, Josh and team had all of the Rotties roll in marshmallow paste and then in feathers that had been collected throughout the year. The parrot residents of the Bridge contributed long beautifully colored feathers to attach to the Rotties’ nubby little tails so that they could have fine plumage for their turkey costumes. Of course, since Harrison was a long-tail Rottie, he had particularly dazzling plumage. BJ had worked months with the group, albeit with limited success, to get them to make appropriate gobbling sounds.

Outdoing himself with the small pilgrim costumes, Josh led the pilgrim group. Nermal [cat], selected a sophisticated black and white pilgrim dress, complete with bonnet and a stunning shawl woven from the splendid silky fur of her brother Maximillian [Lhasa Apso]. Curfew [cat] dressed her pilgrim suit up a bit with her favorite pearls. Mindy went non-traditional in a red pilgrim dress – maybe the scarlet letter C? Sparky, still not having relapsed into his former unfortunate catnip habit, proudly wore his pilgrim attire as a representative of feline traditional values. Muddy Waters didn’t particularly care for the pilgrim suit but wanted to be a good sport plus he did enjoy the way the suit flattered his rotund body.

Carts festooned with autumn foliage were pulled by the Pyr team: Jonah Bear, Tom, Clondyke, and Turbo. Riding in the carts were other members of the cat contingent: Spud, Clawdia, Frodo, Inky Velvet, Miss Mamma, and Baby Cat. Spori, the Viking cat from Iceland, was not about to be pulled in a floral cart so he marched proudly behind, wearing a Viking hat with horns. Sugarbutt, the senior-ranking feline was pulled on a special platform. She looked incongruously regal with a mouse between her paws. Simba, now having packed on some pounds from fine dining at the Bridge, still got raves from the crowd as the newly crowned Thanksgiving Butterball.

The most special Thanksgiving cart came next. It was a cart that was so large that it required weeks and weeks of preparation and decoration by thousands of the Bridge residents. Covering every inch of all sides of the cart were photographs of humans of all ages. The cart was filled with some of the Bridge’s most joyous and thankful residents – for whom Thanksgiving was the most special day. This cart was filled with all of the dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, birds, ferrets, lambs, and other creatures that had been rescued in their previous lives by those whose photographs covered the cart. Often rescued when they were homeless, starving, and ill, these wonderful residents were giving thanks for their earth families who gave them lives of love and care. Each resident held aloft a rescuer’s portrait in a heart-shaped frame. Huge cheers came from the crowds.

The parade concluded with a replica of a giant turkey being pulled on a float by the Mastiffs Tiovo, Bruno, Brooke, Morris, and Morgan. The turkey was made of completely boneless turkey meat with rosettes of tuna for the felines. During its preparation, it had been carefully guarded by Nelson [Maremma] who, from his perch under a nearby tree, could observe all comings and goings. The luscious aroma from the giant turkey as the float passed caused all to drool and a clean-up team came to assist Augie and the other Newfs. ‘Dozer and his crew were not longer able to maintain crowd control and all the Rainbow Residents poured into the street to follow the turkey.

As the parade marchers joined up with their friends in the street, they began their joyous walk to the banquet area. They had only to follow their noses as DJ led the way! Eddie [Great Dane], holding her pink bear aloft, protectively rounded up all of the smaller dogs so that they didn’t get trampled in the rush.

The turn-out was huge so cooking the vast Thanksgiving Day feast was a major project. Baby [Boxer] was appointed Head Chef for the occasion, and was assisted by her brother George. She wore a tall chef’s hat decorated with a maple leaf and personally tasted each and every dish. Figgy was the official hostess looking extravagant in her collar of autumnal flowers. Standing guard over the many stoves as the boneless turkeys roasted was Mandy, who brought with her five years of experience in guarding cooking turkeys. Standing by as the official food-tasters were Rosie [Shih Tzu], Fuzz , Ziggy [Lhaso Apso/Maltese], and Tippy [cockapoo].

Pappy [Shar Pei] was placed in charge of the salad bar. He and Barkley [Dalmatian], being the Bridge’s connoisseurs of cucumbers, tomatoes, and pickles, had carefully selected and displayed the produce. It was all they could do to keep their paws off the goods but knowing that ‘Dozer and the deputy sheriffs would be coming along reinforced their restraint. However, the restraint soon waned and the cherry tomatoes began to vanish. Sampson [St. Bernard], who could see more with one eye than anyone else with two, saw the gradual disappearance of the salad bar and placed Sami-San [Akita] in charge. Although Sami-San’s ancestors had long guarded Japanese palaces, Sami-San was pleased to do his part at the salad bar.

The lines to enter the vast dining room were long; no one, however, became cross while waiting because the anticipation for the splendid banquet was too great. Those who became a little bored took out their Magic Easter Eggs for a quick peek of home. To their surprise, the eggs had a special quality for this season, the sense of smell. All of the aromas from their former kitchens could be experienced. For many of the residents, this had been their favorite holiday – so many wonderful smells, so many hands to give pats, and soooo much food!

Bandit [lab/collie], because of his senior status, was moved to one of the first places in line. Pepe [golden] was so excited while waiting in line that she danced pirouettes with her brother Rocky [golden]. They were quickly joined by Miss Zacky Zrilla, the famed ballerina, and Aimee who was greatly admired for her impressive ballerina spins. Thinking the crowd was distracted by the dancing dogs, Shelly Sheltie bolted for the potatoes and dressing. Rumpus [OES], a mother dog to all, kept the young ones in line while her son Thud and Mira kept them entertained.

Guests lined up to fill their plates with salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, boneless turkey, cranberry sauce (there was a lot of this left over!), dinner rolls, and, of course, the ubiquitous green bean casserole. Side orders of tuna were available upon request and Tuvok was ladling tuna juice, his personal favorite, from a huge punch bowl. Jonah Bear and Stormy [Chesapeake retriever] stood by the huge igloo they had built to hold the Frosty Paws which were available for dessert. And everyone could have as many as they wanted. Large whipped cream statues of fish and birds were displayed for the felines to serve themselves paw-fulls for desserts

After everyone was served and seated, the Thanksgiving blessing was offered by Patrick [Samoyed], wearing his white cassock. Patrick voiced the thanks of the residents for the opportunity to again be young and strong and without any of their ailments from their former lives. He thanked the veterinarians and staff who had worked so hard to restore their health. He gave thanks for the families of the residents, especially those who had been rescuers, and he expressed great gratitude to those who had helped them in the shelters. He prayed for the safety, health, and happiness of all those not yet at the Bridge and promised the Rainbow Residents that a time would come when all would be united again.

And dinner was served!

Just like in their former lives, after the dinner was over, some headed to the kitchen to clean up and some found comfortable sofas to catch a football game on the Bridge’s IMAX screen. There was no shortage of volunteers for clean up because in the Rainbow Bridge kitchen all pans, dishes, and bowls may be licked. Scapa was again placed in charge of the cleanup because of extensive experience in the pots and pans department and was willingly assisted by Teddy [chow]. Standing by to give tummy rubs to all who had overeaten was Jim and his loving companion Lady.

The greyhounds especially enjoyed the football game played by the U of Connecticut Huskeys and the U of Georgia Bulldogs. Snoofy, Carly, Jack, Dulce, Mondo, and Raff [greyhounds] – torn between snoozing on the sofas and re-enacting the football plays – ended up voting for the sofas but talked extensively about their own fastest times of their racing days. Blue Lucky and Miss Murphy captivated the crowd with tales of days at the tracks. Miles [rotti] was feeling so good after his meal that he offered to share his favorite stuffed toy with others snoozing on the sofas.

Bruno [Mastiff] organized a post-dinner poker game and served small shots of Jack Daniels to his guests. Joining him was Toivo who, now restored to his youthful appearance, looked the part of a card shark. Morgan, too, decided to join the big guys for the card game in hopes of seeing one of Bruno’s famous card-disappearing tricks. Brooke, new to both the game and Jack Daniels, caught on quickly to both.

Spotting ducks in Rainbow Lake was almost more than the Labs could take; however, remembering that they shouldn’t swim soon after eating caused them to try to crowd out the greyhounds for a little sofa space. Ryley [golden], Buddy [black lab], Cleo [retriever] and Marley [black lab] thought they’d have more luck displacing a few of the reclining felines so they summoned Shayla to perform her now-famous “roadkill” rendition, thus enticing the cats off the sofas to get a closer look. Hintza [Rhodesian Ridgeback], remembering the lions and rhinos of his ancestors, was less than impressed and told Lisbett [Norwegian Elkhound] that they should organize a large game hunt for the next Party at the Bridge.

As evening approached, Duncan, Bandit, and Flashdancer [Aussies] rounded up the guests to head for the equine taxi parking lot. As the residents piled on the taxis, Barkley handed each a paw-full of Magic Pennies that they could use to send love to their families. With their Magic Easter Eggs, their Magic Pennies, and boxes of leftovers, the residents returned to their homes to dream of their families with love, thanks, and full, full tummies.

Copyright - Susan Benedict 2004

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