"The Bone" first appeared in Tompkins Square park when an old tree died in the center of the dog run. It was shaped into a bone by a local chainsaw artist. Folks began attaching their tags and flowers upon it when their beloved pet passed away.
Time and termites eventually wore away at the old bone. A new one was installed when the dog park was renovated in 2008 with all the orginal tags on it.
You can use your dog's own tags. Or you can purchase memorial tags for the bone at the following link.
Feel free to attach the tag yourself.
Click here to purchase a memorial tag from Doctors Foster and Smith online
The Rainbow Bridge
The poem that appears on the bone memorial is called "The Rainbow Bridge." It is a work of poetic prose written some time between 1980 and 1992, which has gained wide popularity amongst animal lovers who have lost a pet.
The belief as told in the story is that the souls of deceased pets go to a green meadow paradise just outside of Heaven. Once the pets arrive, their bodies are cured of any illnesses or injuries. They run around and play with other pets, missing only one thing their owners. One day, the pet spots its owner arriving, they reunite and cross the Rainbow Bridge and go into heaven together, never again to be parted.
Although no major religion specifically refers to such a place for pets, the belief shows similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse Mythology. Its source is a story whose original creator is unknown.
Here's is the complete text of the prose:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that 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 our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals 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 intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together...
— author unkown
An artist's rendition of the Rainbow Bridge