Author of Iconic ‘Rainbow Bridge’ Poem Finally Revealed

The “Rainbow Bridge” poem is iconic. Every pet lover that has loved and lost a dear pet family member has likely seen this poem – at the vet’s office, from a friend, in a card or email perhaps? What you may not have noticed is that the author of the poem was always considered “anonymous,” that is, until now thanks to a man named Paul Koudounaris.

Paul, an art historian and author from Tucson, Arizona, spent a decade researching and verifying the poem’s authorship before discovering its true author, Edna Clyne-Rekhy.

The History of “Rainbow Bridge”

Edna Clyne-Rekhy, now 82 years old, is a Scottish artist and animal lover. She has finally been credited with authoring the beloved poem ‘Rainbow Bridge’ thanks to the detective work of Paul Koudounaris. The poem has been the source of comfort for millions of pet parents around the world.

She wrote the poem back in 1959, as a way to grieve her dog, a Labrador Retriever named Major. When she was 19, Major died in her arms and Edna was devastated by the loss. She expressed her intense grief to her mother who then prompted Edna to write her feelings down, hoping it might help with the sense of loss.

She kept the poem largely to herself and shared it with a few friends. Those friends were so touched by the poem that Edna hand-typed out several copies for them but didn’t name herself as the author – never imagining that there was a need. Until now, Edna had no knowledge that since 1959, her poem has traveled around the world offering comfort and hope to pet owners everywhere. Her poem even captured the attention of Abigail Van Buren of the uber-popular “Dear Abby” column in the U.S. where “Rainbow Bridge” was posted in a “Dear Abby” column in 1994.

Paul Koudounaris’ Instagram Account Breaking The News


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Paul Koudounaris (@hexenkult)

When Paul finally discovered that Edna was the author and contacted her, she was in disbelief:

“I’m absolutely stunned,” she says. “I’m still in a state of shock.”

You see, astonishingly, Edna had no idea that her poem, written more than 60 years ago had traveled the globe and comforted millions of pet owners. How is that possible, you might wonder…? Edna had moved away from Scotland to an olive farm in India and had no idea.

If it weren’t for the tireless effort of Paul Koudounaris, we might never know who the author was.

“‘Rainbow Bridge’ provides the missing piece for people who have had to live with this anxiety that their animal is not good enough to deserve an afterlife,” Koudounaris says. “It gives us a reason to hope.”


The Rainbow Bridge Poem by Edna Clyne-Rekhy

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, your pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and strength, those who were hurt are made better and strong again, like we remember them before they go to heaven. They are happy and content except for one small thing—they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are shining, his body shakes. Suddenly he begins to run from the herd, rushing over the grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cuddle in a happy hug never to be apart again. You and your pet are in tears. Your hands again cuddle his head and you look again into his trusting eyes, so long gone from life, but never absent from your heart, and then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

So why has this poem become iconic among pet parents everywhere? Paul Koudounaris speculates that it has something to do with religion and that some religions did not or do not believe animals have souls and therefore, could not go to heaven:

“‘Rainbow Bridge’ provides the missing piece for people who have had to live with this anxiety that their animal is not good enough to deserve an afterlife,” Koudounaris says. “It gives us a reason to hope.”

“Rainbow Bridge” provided the assurance that pet owners needed to feel that their deep connection with their pets would live on, somehow, somewhere some way. And it still does so to this day.

An article was featured in National Geographic on February 22, 2023 if you’d like to read more about it. Also check out the original story and work of art historian Paul Koudounaris on his Instagram account (@hexenkult).  Thank you to Paul Koudounaris for finding the author… and a big thank you to Edna Clyne-Rekhy for giving the world such a beautiful gift.

You might also enjoy these articles…

RSVP Photo Banner for Cancer Care Paw event

A Paws for Wellness: The CancerCare PAW Program and the Support It Offers to Those Fighting Cancer

In the grueling fight against cancer, patients often seek comfort in the steadfast company of their pets. The joyous wag of a dog’s tail or the gentle nuzzle of a cat can speak volumes in silent, understanding support. This unbreakable bond has not gone unnoticed by CancerCare, which has embarked on helping patients who are also the proud caregivers to their beloved animal companions. The Pet Assistance and Wellness Program (PAW) by CancerCare honors the role pets play in the lives of the patients by providing a much-needed support cushion during their treatment.

girl with cat lonely

How Cats Alleviate Loneliness

The global pandemic has brought loneliness into sharp focus, shedding light on a long-standing struggle for many. Lockdowns and social distancing have unveiled the emotional toll, underscoring the importance of companionship. In these isolated times, pets, particularly cats, have emerged as silent champions, providing much-needed solace and companionship.

Cat DIY Hammock

DIY Cat Hammock

Looking for a fun, feline-centric project for the weekend? Try this DIY Hammock! Crafting a cozy haven for your feline friend doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, with a little creativity and some basic supplies, you can create a stylish and...
Rolling cat cute green eyes looking happy with a content facial expression - The Catnip Times

Study Finds Cats Have 276 Facial Expressions

Cats, our enigmatic feline friends, have long been masters of the subtle art of communication. A recent study, published in the journal Behavioral Processes, delves deep into the world of cat expressions, uncovering a whopping 276 distinct facial cues when these furry companions interact with each other.

Domestic cat looking at cupcakes.

Surprising Foods You Need to Keep Away from Your Cat

Cats are curious creatures by nature, and this inquisitive disposition often extends to their diet. However, as pet parents, it is incumbent upon us to be vigilant about what goes into their feeding bowls. Keeping them away from potentially harmful foods is not just...
Calico shelter cat sleeping outdoors at Largo di Torre Argentina, Rome, Italy

Largo di Torre Argentina: Where History Meets Cat Sanctuary

Nestled amidst the timeless beauty of Rome lies a treasure trove that marries history with the heartwarming presence of ‘gatti,’ or cats in Italian. The Area Sacra in Largo di Torre Argentina, an archaeological gem, has recently flung open its gates to human visitors after being shrouded in mystery for almost a century. What makes this site truly unique? It’s not just the ancient ruins that attract visitors from around the world, but the thriving community of feral cats that has called this place home for the last 100 years.