• Erika Lee Kline

The Rainbow Bridge IS Real: Our Fur Babies ARE in Pet Paradise

Updated: Jul 12


I want to tell you about the Life & Passing of My Boys, Papi & Nacho. My two lover boys not only impacted my life, but many of your as well. Papi (Papichulo) was born in November of 2004 & Nacho (Nacho the Luchador) in July of 2008. Born ~3.5 years apart, just like me and my middle sister. The first part of the story is about my experience with my fur babies and then I'd like to enlighten you about a special place known as the Rainbow Bridge. You may have heard of it before. If not, you will never forget this story. It's so important for us to hold this most magical place in our heart always & forever!

Word I spoke before taking the photo 'TREAT'!
My Boys: Papi & Nacho

They were both so adorable as little puppies. My Dad went with me to meet Papi for the first time. That little angel face stole my heart right away. He looked very different from all the other puppies. Such a sweet angelic face. The couple I adopted him from was raising long-haired chihuahuas, short-haired chihuahuas, & teacup ones too. On one side of the house there were also several Papillions. I got Papi's American Kennel Club papers on his Mom: Tin Man's Fancy Galena & his Dad: Champion Reata's Emanuel. So his Dad was pretty much a Bad Ass Champion who won awards in dog shows. As Papi matured I had a strong suspicion his Momma had an affair with a Papillion. That Bitch. Ha! And as I look back I realize Papi's name origin was not just tied to a Reggeaton song, Papichulo, but also to his Mom's illicit affairs. At least my tears are drying up and my eyes are squinting from a smile.

Baby Papi 2005

Over 3 years of a building my sweet relationship with Papi I started realizing something. He was looking depressed, he really seemed to be lonely. It was almost like he was speaking to me. Your animals do the same thing to you right? They do speak to you, I believe it. For those of you that know me, my profession is Nursing. Much of my career I hustled those 12 hour shifts. Papi spent alot of time alone during my work days. It breaking my heart, so it was time to bring home a new friend for him. My Mom came with me to find Papi and brother. When we got to the house to meet this cute little fur baby we met a family that was adopting out these itty bitty long-haired chihuahuas. The youngest in the family was was a 12 year old sweet girl that was photographing all of the puppies with backdrops and if you adopt one of the little cuties you get a CD with all of their pictures she's created. Such a special touch. Nacho was a runt. But he was a Luchador! Yep, a Mexican Wrestler. Nacho Libre!! He was so little, had the blackest face of all the puppies so you could barely see his eyes. Truth be told, he was so gentle, so sweet, so loving. Papi and I were in love.

We were now officially a pack. Papi was inquisitive and happy with his new brother. I saw him perk up so much. He had a different pep to his step. We did so much together. With their fancy carriers and a sense of adventure like their Momma, we had the whole world ahead of us. One time we went to an event called the 'Dog Bowl'. It was held at the Cotton Bowl Stadium at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. Dallas’ most historic football field was transformed into a super-duper dog park for doggies of all sizes. They were allowed to play and run unleashed! Can you believe it? Great danes to Tea-cup chihuahuas. You really get to see how domesticated dogs can act with hundreds of other dogs all around. In my mind I imagined chaos, but it was so controlled and loads of fun! Hopefully after COVID has dissipated enough and we have herd immunity you'll be able to bring your doggies to this amazing event. Click on the picture to go to the link.

Other fun spots we went were road trips to see my Dad close to Oklahoma, to nature preserves, outdoor restaurant patios like 'Katy Trail Outpost', friend's houses, lots of different dog parks, and our last big trip together as a pack was to Galveston Beach in the summer of 2016. I remember my boys sitting on either side of me looking out at the ocean waves like it was yesterday. Neither of them had ever seen the ocean, and this filled my heart. The ocean is one of my happy spots.

Nacho & Papi with Honesty and I

Anyone who has ever loved an animal has definitely felt the strength of the human-animal bond. Our unique relationships with our pets can influence physical, social, emotional, psychological, and mental well-being for us and for them. Don't you agree? The connections we share with our dogs, cats, birds, horses, llamas, and even lizards, snakes & hamsters go deeper than words. Our animals can sense our moods. My boys had a magical ability to calm me down and ease my anxious soul.

I got to spend ~12 years with Papi. Anyone who knew Papi would say he was one of the cutest, sweetest, most loving dogs they've ever met. Oh, how I miss him. He was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I was so glad to be his Momma. My heart broke in half the day I had to make the difficult decision to end his pain and discomfort. As he sat on my lap and took his last breath I lost a huge piece of myself and my heart.

Papi & Sriracho: Looking towards the Rainbow Bridge

The experience of the loss of Papi was truly devastating for me. I felt so bad Nacho was now by himself and I was working even more at that point. My Mom graciously adopted Nacho and gave him such a comforting life for the rest of his time here. Nacho endured such a tough transition, but good news that my Mom was working part time and had alot more time for him. He was so spoiled!

2020 was so hard for many of us. We lost friends and our pets. Nacho passed away last year from heart disease and diabetes. He is missed so much, my Mom loved him so well in his last couple of years. So thankful both of these sweet boys are together again.

Have you heard of the Rainbow Bridge? If you haven't lost a pet you may not know the term. Let me tell you a little bit about it. It's a place I believe truly exists. It's real. It's a magical place where it's always sunny, the flowers are always blooming and there exists these beautiful green lush meadows. There's a multi-colored, prismatic bridge your pet eventually crosses that leads it to heaven. Your pet arrives here when they pass away. Your pet’s health is fully restored and they can run and play as they did when they were young and healthy. They are given unlimited food and water and never have to worry about diabetes, heart disease or gaining any weight. Such a glorious place they go isn't it? When you pass away one day you will arrive at the meadow, and that is when they stop playing, turn, sniff at the air and look into the distance where they see YOU. They run as fast as they can, until you both are reunited! Your pet licks you in joy while the you look into the soft eyes of your pet—who might have been absent on Earth, but never absent in your heart. Then side by side, you both cross the Rainbow Bridge together into Heaven, never again to be separated.

Losing a pet is one of the hardest things you may have to go through. In fact, losing a pet might be just as hard as losing a family member.

Have you experienced the loss of a beloved pet? I'm gonna list below some things I did and you can do to get on the path of healing and back to being fully present in your day-to-day life.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Despite what other people may tell you, feeling shocked and sad is perfectly acceptable and normal feelings after the loss of a beloved pet. I went back to work a little too soon, but my coworkers hugs & comfort really helped me. Their stories and compassion seemed to normalize my experience and make it more bearable.

Don’t Blame Yourself

If you feel guilty, try not to think about death as an event as a whole, but in individual parts. If you break down what happened step-by-step, you’ll find that you were not responsible. If something could have been done to prevent the death, you would have done it. I believe this wholeheartedly.

Set up a Memorial

Just like a family member, a pet deserves to be memorialized and honored. Setting up a memorial for a pet is a great way to remember the love they shared during their life and help bring some closure to their passing. I often wonder if I should have kept my boy's ashes or some sort of box or urn, but pictures, their outfits and collars still bring me comfort.

Give Yourself Time to Heal

Healing and recovery is an individual process. There isn’t a specific amount of time you need to get over a loss. It shouldn't be rushed. Mourning may take weeks or months after the event. Or in my case years. I am still emotional over it all. Since I was there when Papi passed away and it happened while he layed on my lap I am still crushed and broken over it. If you are going to be there I believe it's best that it be done at home and with them laying on the ground. I believe I have PTSD from the experience. I'm much better than the first year after the experience.

Talk to Your Children/Family/Friends About What Happened

Losing a family dog, cat, fish or other pet can be very painful for young children, especially if this is their first experience with loss. That’s why it’s essential to address the issue directly with them, as well as provide comfort. Use simple, clear words to describe what happened and try to put their emotions into words.

Take Some Time Off

The pain of the loss can be so intense that it may seem that you have no energy for your regular activities and work.Schedule some time away from work and put aside any stressful activities. Pushing through the painful feelings may negatively impact your work performance and health.

Understand Why it Happened

If you’re unsure how exactly your pet died, don’t be afraid to speak to your veterinarian and have an autopsy done. Knowing what caused the death of your pet can help bring closure to the event.

Talk to Someone About It

Don’t try to wrestle with your grief and negative emotions alone.

One of the best ways to heal after the loss of a pet is to speak to others about it.

Reach out to other pet owners who have gone through the same situation. People in your support network can help get your life back on track by giving advice or even doing small favors in your time of need.

Schedule a Fun Activity

Think of an activity, especially something outside your home that is fun to do. Like going on a bike ride, getting ice cream, going on a hike, paddleboarding or having a picnic. Doing this can help take your mind off your pet for a while and get some endorphins flowing to help uplift your mood.

Go Exercise or Take a Walk

When you start exercising, your brain releases something called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, or BDNF which helps you feel at ease make makes things mentally clearer. Your brain also releases endorphins, a chemical known to fight stress and lift your spirits.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Most people report very disrupted sleep after the loss of a pet. You may have trouble falling and staying asleep after the loss of a pet, but there are a few things you can do. I spoke to my doctor last week about this because I haven't been sleeping well. Make sure your bedroom is very dark without any lights to disrupt your sleep.Turn down the temperature so the room is very cool as this improves sleep. Avoid any blue light caused by computer and phone screens 1-2 hours before bed. And, try to avoid caffeine or alcohol a few hours before bed.

Establish New Routines and Patterns

Sometimes our habits, routines, and patterns can make it hard to overcome the loss of our pet. If you still have your pets water dishes, beds, or pet toys around the house, seeing these can trigger painful memories. So you should throw them away or give them away. Trust me, this part was really hard for me. Establishing new routines and habits are not meant to help forget your pet, but instead help yourself continue living a healthy, meaningful life.

Reflect on the Happy Times with Your Pet

If you had a close relationship with your pet you’ll never be able to forget about them. To help remember and preserve the memories of the wonderful times you had together, take some time to reflect on the good moments you shared.

I hope this entry was beneficial to you. I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures with Papi & Nacho in life and transitioning to the inevitable loss we all go through if we own a pet.

Stay beautiful, unique and inspired.

--Erika Lee Kline lives in beautiful Pasadena, California. She is fitness minded & enjoys hiking, biking, paddleboarding and wall climbing. She is a fully embodied Empath, a human rights advocate, ballroom/Latin dancer, a student of human behavior and an MI Practitioner. She is a Pediatric Diabetes Nurse working in Los Angeles at a Children's Hospital. You can find her on Clubhouse, TikTok & Instagram.

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