LAFAYETTE TWP. — Dog barks could be heard throughout the ceremony that paid tribute to all the pets that have been loved and lost during the seventh annual Rainbow Bridge Walk at Buckeye Woods Park on Sunday afternoon.
The event was founded by Medina resident Char Arthur after she attended an Alzheimer’s walk shortly after losing her dog.
“When I got home I was reflecting on how powerful that was for all the people there because they were with other people who understood,” Arthur said during the event Sunday. “Losing a pet was so painful, but there is nothing built into society for me or anybody else to address that grief.”
The event was sponsored by Medina County Auditor Mike Kovack, who said his office is full of animal lovers and decided to get involved with the walk to provide some administrative assistance to Arthur.
“We are very involved with dogs and actually almost everybody in my office has pets too, so we have all lost pets … it can have a big effect on you,” Kovack said Sunday.
Arthur then read “The Rainbow Bridge,” the poem that gave the annual walk its name.
The poem by an unknown author tells of a special place where those pets that had a special connection with a human on earth wait to be reunited with their owners.
“All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor, those who are hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams,” Arthur read.
After a blessing by deacon Joe Loutzenhiser of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church of Medina, Hospice of the Western Reserve Bereavement Coordinator JoDee Coulter told the crowd that it is not always easy for everyone to understand the pain associated with the death of a pet.
“Maybe some of our friends would say things like, well it was just a pet, you can go get another one,” she said. “They become our family, they become our friends, they just don’t understand the relationship that a human being can have with an animal.”
Coulter then shared some tips for managing grief following the death of a pet including allowing time to physically get some rest, and also to get outside to enjoy some fresh air and a change of scenery.
“It is with a grateful heart that we remember those we have lost and express our gratitude that our lives are now fuller for having had the opportunity to love and be loved unconditionally by them,” Coulter said.
Mother and daughter Chris and Beverly Scherry of Brunswick brought their 1-year-old golden retriever, Scout, in memory of their collie shepherd mix Dakota, who died last year.
“We got an invitation from the auditor and we had lost our dog last year at about this time,” Chris Scherry said. “We decided to come out and do it and bring our new little guy with us.”
As the group made its way across a wooden bridge in the park, Medina High School band member Rachel Knaggs played “Over the Rainbow” on her trumpet.
Arthur said she credits Kovack with incorporating so many different elements of community into the Rainbow Bridge Walk.
“We have got hospice involved, we have the church, we have the Medina (High School) band,” she said. “We have so many pieces of the community that come together to make this work.”
Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.