The anonymous poem “The Rainbow Bridge” often serves as a eulogy for pets. Its imagery of “heaven,” which may originate in Norse legend, as a warm, sunny meadow is similar to imagery in Greek and Roman mythology and provides a promise of an afterlife.
Veterinary practices may use “The Rainbow Bridge” as part of pet owners’ grief counseling after the death of a pet. First, the poem’s imagery grants that pets have souls that can make a spiritual journey.
In cases where a pet has died from an injury or catastrophic illness, the poem’s images of wooded hills, fair weather, abundance and boon companionship are meant to comfort owners by reminding them that their pet’s suffering is over.
Another connection to mythology and legend is that the image of pets being restored to full health after they enter heaven. As with warriors in Greek epics, this is one of the rewards for having lived a good life.
Yet another convention of European legends about the afterlife is that the living world and heaven are connected. For instance, though their lives in heaven are perfect, just as they are missed, pets still miss their owners. The legend completes itself again when owners and pets are reunited in heaven.