Easter at the Rainbow Bridge: Rabbits Reign

Dedicated to Jonah Bear and Barkley on their first Easter at the Bridge

Rainbow Bunny

On the day that is most special to them, the bunnies reign supreme. Placed in charge of the day's festivities by Samson (Berner), Party Animal Extraordinaire, all lapins began the preparation for the big day weeks in advance. Of course, given the scope of the activities, help had to be obtained from the many other residents of the Bridge.

Now that it has been well-documented that dogs are, in fact, not color blind, a Canine Color Committee was elected to oversee the Easter egg dyeing contest. The agility champs, led by Grifter (Doberman), were charged with the actual egg-handling as great skill was needed to dip eggs into the colorful solutions. Solid white dogs such as Jonah Bear (Great Pyr), Dulce (white greyhound), Gabriel (German Shepherd), Snow (German shepherd), and Zani (cocker spaniel) were excluded from the dyeing activities for fear of staining their beautiful Easter suits. Still wishing to be a part of the festivities, the five headed for the freshly mowed lawn and rolled around until their suits were a lovely Spring green. When the Canine Color Committee noticed that the colored eggs were, one-by one, being returned to their previous white color, Tasha (Dobie), had to be eliminated from the egg-handling team as she had begun to peel the eggs, confusing them with her favorite tennis balls. The reigning Bunny Queen, Miss Buns, was selected to pose for the chocolate bunny statue. Dressed in her finest by the Bridge's head designer, Josh (poodle mix) and his assistants, Little Guy (poodle) and Tanya (poodle), Miss Buns was assisted in selecting a regal reclining pose by her feline friends after considerable reassurance that she would not be chased. Numerous poses were enacted by Button, Simon, and the other felines with Miss Buns being asked to select her favorite. Nicker (tabby cat), known for his exquisite multicolored suit, suggested mocha, dark chocolate, and white chocolate mix for Miss Buns' Easter cloak. To replicate his own nose - of which he was extremely proud - he suggested a touch of pink frosting on one side of Miss Buns'.Athos (collie), also having a striking multicolored suit, seconded Nicker's suggestion. Shanti (rotti), with her fondness for licking, polished off half of Miss Buns’ cloak before she was noticed by the astute Rusty (redbone coonhound).

The champion counter surfers, led by Brea and Embers (Great Danes), had been charged with obtaining and hoarding chocolate throughout the year for making the chocolate replica of Miss Buns. Because chocolate is verboten to the canines - which did nothing to diminish their desire - chocolate flavored marshmallow was substituted without their knowledge by Eldon (Bouvier) who was known for his wisdom and caring.

Next to the bunnies, this is Josh's day (poodle mix) to shine. After his major success designing hats for Party at the Bridge, Josh was overwhelmed with orders for Easter bonnets. Because of the many requests, Josh was assisted by his talented staff, Little Guy, Jasper, and Tanya. What would Easter be without a parade? But who is to lead the parade? Sharpy (Shar Pei), having been such a success as the Master of Ceremonies for Party at the Bridge, was unanimously selected - after the feline contingent, led in protest by Ben, went on a one day hunger strike protesting canine favoritism. In protest, the felines elected Sparky, who had successfully completed his 12-step catnip program, to organize the feline participation. Flashdancer (Aussie) and Duncan, seeing the desperate need to herd the cats, defected from the canines and opted to request honorary feline membership. However, their requests were enthusiastically ignored and their herding was just as successful as all previous attempts at herding cats.

Working late into the night, all preparations were finished before Easter dawn. It was an especially gorgeous day at the Rainbow Bridge and the festivities got under way early. The residents arrived by foot, in carts, on the equine taxis, and on the wings of parrots and cockatoos for the grand Easter Parade. Crowd control was provided by Sam and Sheba (German Shepherds) as the floats were lined up and the music began. Sharpy, flanked by the drum majorettes, Punkin and Steffie (Shih Tzu), dressed in Easter pink to match their striking pink tongues, started the march down Mainstreet. Following Sharpy in the parade down the main street of Rainbow Bridge was Callei (Great Pry), assisted by his strong sibling Turbo (Pyr), and Jonah Bear (Pyr) pulling the Great Pyrenees Club of Canada cart filled with the honored rabbits. Carrots, both candy and real, were thrown as Doubloons into the crowd by the rabbits.

Next came the Feline Float, outfitted with chaise lounges for each and all of the feline guests. Nermal (cat), regal in her sophisticated black and white attire, occupied a prominent position in a show of dignity for the felines while Sugarbutt, the senior ranking feline, occupied the cat throne. The previous Sumo-sized feline, Simba, demonstrated considerable attitude in response to the crowd's cheers in praise of her new svelte self. Ms. Mamma, Inky Velvet, Baby Cat, and Frodo, having been exquisitely groomed for the occasion resisted licking while so prominently displayed. Gerry (cat) carried a photo of her hero, Cruz. Clawdia, lacking a tail, substituted a lovely plume of purple Wisteria and received a standing ovation from the fashion- conscious crowd. The Feline Float was pulled by Smokey (horse) and other duly- elected equines who wore flower harnesses hand dug by the gardener canines, Nika (Doberman), Bonnie Dog, and Jake. Bonnie Dog, being the Head Gardner at the Rainbow Bridge, had outdone herself with her floral designs and looked resplendent with a gardenia behind each ear. Girlie Girl (goat), in hot pursuit of the flower harnesses – and Bonnie Dog’s headdress - had to be restrained by Sam and Sheba (German Shepherds). Chaos (rotti) stepped from the crowd to restore order.

Following the Feline Float were the marching Feline Fashionistas, led by Curfew who was dazzling in her pearls and accompanied by Spats. Among the more sleekly attired was Captain (Siamese) who led the group in their theme song to the accompaniment of the Howling Huskies conducted by BJ (schnauzer). Simon (cat), spotting the mouse family in the viewing stand, departed the marching group in haste, temporarily losing his fine new Easter collar in the process.

Not to be outdone by the Feline Fashionistas, the Canine Couturiers formed an impressive group. Shaggy (bearded collie) led the group in her featured lounge wear of bathrobe and slippers and sported her newest eyeglasses from her Elton John collection. Snoofy (greyhound), with a large grin on his face, and Marley were greatly enjoying showing off their new attire from the shop of Josh and Little Guy. Resplendent in her blue Easter outfit was Mercedes who was most thankful that it wasn't raining as she'd have to avoid all the festivities rather than get wet. Gunner (Papillon), carried on a specially decorated platform so he could be appropriately admired, was stunning with his newly designed ear-coiffure. Lady (rotti), won immense applause for her Easter bonnet. And of course, never to be out done, was the beautiful red-winged Skye. The Singing Basset Hounds, just recently returned from a performance tour, provided the music for the Canine Couturiers and were led by the conductor and soloist of the Rainbow Bridge Symphony, RC. The Samoyed team of Frosty, Patrick, and Maynard pulled a small wagon loaded with marshmallow snowballs. Riding on top and throwing the snowballs to the crowd was Basse (rotti) who, having followed closely the Iditarod for years on television, was very familiar with snow and what to do with it. No parade is complete without the clowns and Barkley and Katy (Dalmatians), newly elected to the role of court jester at the Bridge, provided considerable entertainment. They were, however, briefly upstaged by Shayla as she did her road kill rendition and Kahlua (rotti) who did her feet- in-the-air dance. Lady (cocker mix) was momentarily confused, thinking Shayla was a ground hog, and immediate began pursuit. She was followed by Kelsie (golden) and Trinka who could run with her feel barely touching the ground. Cleo and Ryley (goldens), not to miss any of the action, immediately jumped in along with Pepper who, having been restored to four legs, could run with the fastest.

After the parade found its way to the Rainbow Bridge playground, guests sought out their favorite games before the Easter banquet began. Of course, one of the main features was the Easter Egg Hunt. Lodi (pit bull), who was known for his keen intelligence, had been selected to hide the eggs. Exhibiting great restraint in not eating the eggs, as well as great gentleness - a recently acquired trait - Lodi asked Toivo (mix) to join him as his famous card hiding tricks could be put to use in the Easter egg hiding effort. Charlie, too, was invited because of his hide-and-seek expertise. Barkley (Dalmatian), Nika (dobie), and Jake (rotti), residents who had great reputations for bone hiding, also joined the team. Sampson (St. Bernard), who could see more with one eye than anyone else with two, refereed the Easter egg hunt to make sure that all played fair.

Flashdancer and Duncan [Aussies], having resigned their herding attempts of the felines, were now concentrating on the various water fowl residents of the Bridge in preparation for the Bobbing for Ducks event. Jesse (black lab), who was widely revered for her water prowess and knowledge of ducks, rounded up many but they, catching on to what might be happening, took off in formation for an undisclosed location known only to Dick Cheney. Again calling on the design expertise of Josh and Little Guy, Flashdancer, Duncan, and Jesse asked to have rubber duckies made for the bobbing event. Flashdancer and Duncan formed the ducks into a flotilla which Jesse and Cinder (black lab) took out into the pond.

The contest began! All dogs - except those who didn't like to get wet like Mercedes - jumped into the pond, each trying to catch as many ducks as possible. Augie and Tom, the aquatic Pyr, led the pack. Simon, meanwhile, raced up and down the beach, trailing seaweed behind him. The felines were in a huff! How could canines be so unrefined, not to mention of questionable intelligence, getting soaked to chase rubber ducks? However, the sport was somewhat interesting. Pandora suggested a lovely nap on the shore and produced soft beach towels for all. All were snoozing comfortably in the sun until the swim team of Thud and Einstein (Old English Sheepdogs) bounded out and shook dry their suits, giving the resting felines an afternoon shower. Juno and her boyfriend Smokey (Great Dane) organized the Easter Egg Roll. With cats vs. dogs, the teams were formed. Teddy (Shiloh) was unanimously elected the captain of the canines and Captain (Siamese) was the captain of the felines. Megan (rotti) carefully counted out 10 eggs per team and Sassy, who could hardly contain her energy any longer, lined the members up to begin the contest. The goal was for each team to roll as many eggs as possible to the finish line in the shortest time. Karli (Afgan) set the pace with long fur streaming in the breeze. The felines fell behind almost from the start – but didn’t seem to care. This seemed to them to be a sneaky canine trick to get them to work and, of course, that isn’t what they’re most interested in. However, when Pip (Spaniel) diverted from his plan to catch a few fish in the pond, feline interest increased dramatically. Prizes were awarded to Torchy (Sheltie), Figgy, Gert, Buffy, Magnum, Baxter, Chloe, and Chevas – the famous Rescue Team – representing many geographical regions. Rocket was awarded as consolation prize for the dog who managed to dig the greatest number of holes during the contest.

The Easter banquet was organized and presided over by Baby, who loves all food and who had sampled each dish. In fact, Baby was so renowned as a culinary expert that last week’s Rainbow Bridge Newspaper featured her column on the upcoming Easter Banquet. The guests were rounded up by Mira, Rumpus, Miss Pooh, and Patches (OES) and herded to the lovely china place settings. Official greeters were Cookie (Shih Tzu) and Mr. Rainbow Sam. Tippy, known for her multiple language skills, served as official interpreter. The menu featured Easter cookies selected by Fuzz and his brother Ziggy, bones contributed by Heavenly Ham, rolls and people-biscuits. The felines, again protesting against perceived canine favoritism, had fresh fish delivered from the Fulton Fish Market in New York. Button (cat) looked especially eager to dive in, with fangs bared in a feline smile. Petey (poodle), ever the well-behaved gentleman, proposed a toast to all the siblings not yet at the bridge. Skylar, being a new resident at the bridge, introduced all newcomers and gave a bit of information about their interests, skills, and families. Skylar’s remarks on how it is possible to be both at the Bridge and yet still living in the hearts of their families brought a loud and sustained round of applause.

Dining entertainment featured Miss Zacky Zrilla doing her ballerina and song numbers and Peanut (Chihuahua), dressed in a lovely flower festooned sombrero, performed with her own Parakeet. They were accompanied by Ricky (Chihuahua) as they sang some salsa tunes. The Blues Brothers, Elrod and Jake, did a selection of favorite songs. Patches (Dashund/beagle) oversaw the wait- staff to make certain that no one's plate was ever empty. Kiki and Baby Meaux were there to make sure the younger ones ate properly. There were many contented sighs as the eating continued throughout the afternoon. Standing by to give tummy rubs to all who had overeaten was Jim, who represented all of us not yet at the Bridge, with his loving companion Lady, Scapa was standing by as the Chief dishwasher. Well-known for her vast experience at cleaning all plates, she was prepared to deal with those remaining after the Easter banquet. Benji, known as a famous escape artist, thought this was a good time to vanish before he was conscripted into the dishwashing effort.

At the conclusion of the meal, the party favors were distributed to all by the toy connoisseurs Maximillian (Lhasa Apso), Blondy (golden) and Frost (Maine coon cat). Each resident of the Rainbow Bridge received a beautiful Easter egg with magical qualities. Holding the eggs with their paws, the residents peeked inside of each to see their previous homes and families as they too celebrated Easter. The furry ones could feel the love and remembrance as their families gave thanks on Easter for having once shared their lives, and always shared their love, with the residents of Rainbow Bridge. As the sun reflected off the magical lens in the eggs, a rainbow was created that all those not yet at the Bridge could see. In every color of the rainbow, the Bridge’s residents were visible, and all their families on Earth could see them healthy and happy and radiant with love and remembrance. Bruno, Teesha, Lily Bear, Cruz, Ginger, Wilma, Spencer,Hannibal and all the siblings had a wonderful Easter knowing that their furry friends and family members had been returned to perfect health and happiness.

The party-goers left for their homes at the Bridge and began their evening snooze full and happy, knowing that they were loved and remembered always, and knowing that they could look in on their families through the magic Easter egg as many times, and at any time, they wished.

© Susan Benedict

Dr. Susan Benedict
Professor of Nursing Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC 29425

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