There is a legend at the sanctuary where I work which explains the link between wind chimes and departed companions. Our memorial park where our beloved family members are placed is covered in wind chimes; literally hundreds of matching wind chimes. Most of them are hung in memory of a special animal.
Whenever we have a placement ceremony (funeral), it doesn’t matter how still the day is. At some point in the service, or immediately following it, at least one wind chime will sound. I have never attended a service where the beautiful tinkling song of the chimes didn’t mark the occasion, including the placement ceremony for a friend’s beloved dog last week.
The story we tell is that when the animal crosses the Rainbow Bridge, they are young and happy and healthy again. They are so full of love and energy, so happy to be whole, so excited to see old friends, that they jump and twirl and run, building up a wind which blows over the Rainbow and comes down to earth to ring the chimes.
The Vicktory Family has a tradition of giving each other wind chimes when our beloved dogs pass. It started when Roo and Clara Yori lost Hector. We wanted something to mark the occasion, something that was as solid and resilient as the dogs themselves.
Vicktory Dog Layla’s mom Tess had a friend who makes wind chimes out of steel plates and solder. The chimes are heavy; so heavy that it takes a substantial wind to bring out their sound. As each of the Vicktory Dogs comes to the end of their journey, a chime is sent to the grieving family.
Ray’s hangs outside my bedroom window. I miss our boy Ray desperately, but on windy nights I can hear the song of his chimes, reminding me that we will see each other again.
Last weekend there was a private ceremony at the former site of Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels (now the site of the Good Newz Rehab Center for chained dogs). Adopters and other people intimately involved with the rescue of the Vicktory Dogs gathered together to honor them. A tree was planted for each and every dog, including the ones who never made it out alive, who were unnamed and unknown. Each dog received the love and honor they should have known their entire lives. In the clearing where once dogs were chained to barrels, abused and neglected, now trees will grow tall and strong in a field which serves as a park for rescued dogs.
As part of the weekend, Ray’s dad Kevin, Oscar’s mom Rachel, and Layla’s mom Tess hung a larger version of the family wind chimes in a tree overlooking the memorial field. The chimes were placed in honor of all the dogs, and to recognize the work that Dogs Deserve Better has done to cleanse the area of any residual evil, as they work with other abused dogs. The chimes are incredibly solid and heavy. During the ceremony, they hung still and soundless.
However, the next night a storm blew through the area. According to the director of Dogs Deserve Better, Denise Cohn, the chimes didn’t just ring, they sang. I guess it took a day or two for all of the departed Vicktory Dogs to get together and dance in unison. The wait was worth it. That was some wind they stirred up to let us know they are now happy and healthy, waiting for us to come together once again on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
Featured image via Hector the Pit Bull/Facebook