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Gone, but never forgotten: Rainbow Bridge helps keep memory of beloved companions alive

<i>WLOS</i><br/>Tucked away in Lake Lure is a Rainbow Bridge
Tucked away in Lake Lure is a Rainbow Bridge

By Meghan Danahey

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    LAKE LURE, North Carolina (WLOS) — If you’ve ever had to say goodbye to a pet, you know that deep sadness. Many of us have read the Rainbow Bridge poem through tears of sorrow mixed with joy.

Tucked below the Flowering Bridge in Lake Lure, there is a sacred space just for animal lovers. It is a one-of-a-kind Rainbow Bridge, and it draws visitors from all across the country.

“When we lose our pets, we always think of them passing over the rainbow bridge and meeting the other pets that were part of our family, and our friends’ pets that they played with,” a Lake Lure resident said on a recent visit to the bridge. “So, I think the rainbow bridge is a very peaceful concept and it makes your heart comfortable.”

“We had a family that drove seven hours because there’s no other rainbow bridges,” bridge creator Amy Wald said. “We looked it up! There are no other rainbow bridges! So, people are driving to put their own collars up here.”

Amy and her family live in Chimney Rock. She has been a wood-working artist for years. After they said goodbye to two pets during the pandemic, Amy looked into constructing a real-life rainbow bridge as a place grieving pet owners could actually visit. She built it, she painted it and she hung the collars of her own pets on the railings there. Flowering Bridge volunteers also hung collars on the newly installed bridge and, from there, word spread to animal lovers everywhere.

“You see people go down there and they cry, and then they laugh, and then they giggle when they see the silly things that people have put there,” Amy said. “It’s a whole lot better to come visit this then to, you know, look at a little marker in the ground or something. This is happy! When you’re there you may get sad about your own pet, but then you see what everybody else did for theirs, and you realize just how amazing people’s relationships are with their animals!”

News 13’s Meghan Danahey recently lost one of her own dogs named Rooster. She visited the bridge to hang his collar and tag alongside all the others.

Amy told her, “And now you’re not the only one who remembers him because yesterday – how many tags other than your own dogs did you read? They’re remembered by more than one person, they’re remembered by everybody who visits the bridge!”

The original bridge is jammed full of collars, tags, chew toys, pictures and other tributes. and it isn’t restricted to dogs and cats. There is a hamster wheel, a bird perch, and a rabbit statue.

New railings have been added that go down to the water’s edge. There will be new planks installed and painted that also lead down to the water. Amy says the extension is needed due to so many visitors and, she adds, “it will be a quiet space where families can also spread a pet’s ashes.”

From the Flowering Bridge parking lot, go past the gazebo and down to the left to find the Rainbow Bridge. There is a lovely dog garden right next to it that is shaded and cool next to the water. Your pup can even borrow a stick from the “Stick Library” there!

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