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GUARDIAN PALACE AT RAINBOW BRIDGE- A Gingerbread Memorial in Honor of LGDs

There are those special dogs who touch our lives so deeply, that they leave a paw print on our hearts. This paw print remains forever. Like many of you, my husband and I have paw printed hearts that we cherish. Ashley gave us ours.

Ashley was a retired livestock guardian dog who came to train our puppy. She was a beautiful Great Pyrenees who changed our lives. From the day she arrived, our sheep and puppy were safe from danger and harassment. There was a new spirit of peace and contentment. She was mentor and companion to our puppy. Her lovely smile melted away our daily cares. Our family of pet sheep and a LGD puppy became complete when she joined us. Despite horrible illness, and external bleeding that wouldnít stop, Ashley smiled everyday, until the day that cancer took her from us. We only had her for 4+ months. We are so lucky to have had her share her life with us! She was the most amazing dog weíve ever known!

If you too, have a paw printed heart, then youíve probably felt the pulling at your soul, as your dear canine left for Rainbow Bridge. Remember that they are waiting for you there, where all of us with paw printed hearts are rejoined with those special dogs who once marked us forever.

When our Ashley died, it was during what had already been the worst year of my life. It had been our animals that had made lifeís tragedies bearable. They could always put a smile on my face, and put all else in perspective. Now, there was an extra bowl in the barn, and our lonely puppy had only his sheep.

I always say that itís not patience that drives me in my gingerbread art; itís passion. It usually bubbles over and my drive is as strong as a LGD. Gingerbread season was approaching, and my passion had gone. When friends said to use what Iíd been through to create something with meaning, I didnít know where to start, but I had to try! I kept thinking of Ashleyís ashes in a cedar box in the living room. With everything else that had happened in the past year, knowing her, and losing her was what mattered most. My gingerbread project would have to have something to do with Ashley. Once I decided this, it was as if I was being led. When I closed my eyes and thought about Ashley at Rainbow Bridge, I began thinking of the other LGDs who had gone to Rainbow Bridge. I thought about those wonderful dogs who had changed the lives of so many people; LGDs who would have put their lives in jeopardy any time to save their birds, goats, sheep, llamas, and people. I thought of nights on the computer, hearing about LGDs, that were called away to the Bridge. Though Iíd never met them, I could almost see their faces. Thinking of them was bringing back my passion. I thought of Keiser, an Anatolian rescue who had finally found love, but whose rage was beyond his control. I thought of Sam, a pyr who went to the bridge in Sept., whose human aunt, ill with terminal cancer, now wears a beret made from his hair. There were many more. It was as if I had to honor all of these LGDs, who unselfishly gave their love and devotion. I knew what to do. It would be Rainbow Bridge in gingerbread, and especially for our LGDs, there would be a huge palace, called "Guardian Palace".

Each Gingerbread project is a journey, and this one seemed filled with tour guides! As a gingerbread artist, I always count the candies that Iím about to use to make sure that Iíll have enough for each detail. Frequently, a trip to the store is necessary for a few more of this or that. This time, I didnít count. There were just enough colored baking bits for the flat roof. There was one berry candy left from the red roof border. There were just enough of the right colored candies for the rainbow on the bridge. I had marbled just enough icing for the green stone porch. The coincidences were mind-boggling! The last night that I spent working on Guardian Palace at Rainbow Bridge, another passing of a LGD was reported. Her name was Molly. She was a much loved young pyr who had suffered with rage syndrome that couldnít be controlled. Like Kaiser, she had to be released from this world. I thought of her, now at the bridge, as I was sculpting another dog out of rolled fondant.

I hope that all of you who are bestowed with paw printed hearts will find the strength that these can bring. Our guardians patiently await usÖ at Rainbow Bridge.

Anne La Zara
Gingerbread Artist