Apparently, however, it appears that at least two other writers lay claim to being the original author, or to having written something remarkably similar to The Rainbow Bridge, as we know it. The known contenders presently are:
- Paul C. Dahm
Last known to live in Lincoln City, OR Dahm is a grief counselor. He is said to have written the poem in 1981, copyrighted it in 1994, and published it a book titled "The Rainbow Bridge" in 1998.
- William N. Britton
Mr. Britton's book, Legend of Rainbow Bridge, copyright and published in 1994 , has lovely illustrations by Ron Dawson. Mr. Britton and his late wife were co-founders of Companion Golden Retriever Rescue in West Jordan, Utah.
- Dr. Wallace Sife
Also a professional grief counselor, Dr. Sife heads the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, and his version of the poem, titled, "All Pets Go to Heaven," appears on that organization's site. Dr.Fife's poem also is featured in his book, The Loss of a Pet.
I've never forgotten something I learned years ago, when I majored in music in college. Our much-respected teacher, Mr. Froelich, taught us that music IS. That is, music is out there in the air somewhere, and it only takes a talented composer to snatch it out of the stratosphere and put it on paper, to be transformed by instruments and voice to the glorious musical pieces that sing in our hearts. So, in effect, the writing of music is not creation, but is discovery. Mozart did not create his haunting Requiem; he discovered it.
I have a belief that the Rainbow Bridge is very similar to music in that respect. It has always been there; it just took an enlightened soul (or three) to discover it.
Our quest for the real author of The Rainbow Bridge may never be undeniably resolved, but one true thing rings clear: This sweet story will continue to bring peace and comfort to thousands of animal lovers through the ages to come. And one-by-one we will some day be reunited with our loved cats and dogs that have gone before.