The obituary announcement for 81-year-old Walter Herbert Bischoff said: “He was grateful to the New Mexico Beagle Rescue for helping in the adoption of his beloved dogs, Otto, Brownie, Charlie, and Blue. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Herb’s memory to New Mexico Beagle Rescue at www.newmexicobeaglerescue.org.” I just had to go to the memorial service and find out more.
A small group of people gathered at the First United Methodist Church for the services. The old church has beautiful stained glass windows and an impressive organ at the front for all to see. Senior Pastor David Okerberg opened saying, “We gather to witness to our faith and celebrate the life of Herb Bischoff.” He offered words of comfort in Psalm 46 (“God is our refuge and strength”), the 23rd Psalm, and a passage from Philippians (“Rejoice in the Lord always…”).
Cindy Daniels, who worked for Herb Bischoff’s alarm system business, described him as a kind and generous person who enjoyed going to garage sales and taking her along. He loved his four dogs and was so glad they got new homes before he passed, although, “it was heart-breaking for him to give his babies up.”
Nephew Richard Bischoff detailed some of the family’s history in El Paso and how Herb came to live in Albuquerque. He described Herb as a smart man, and “some of his ideas came from the Wiley Coyote ACME school of thought.” While Herb had to come to terms with losing his dogs, his house, even his life, he accepted the changes with grace.
Herb had a melanoma on his back 17 years ago, which was surgically removed. In January, he had trouble breathing. The melanoma had entered his lungs and spread throughout – there were no treatment options. During the last six months of his life, Herb gave up his house and dogs to move into a senior living community which also provided assistance. He arranged for his body to be donated to the University of New Mexico Medical School after his death.
Others stood up to add their comments to the remembrances, including Trish Nesbitt with New Mexico Beagle Rescue. She recommended reading the Rainbow Bridge poem, to fully appreciate Herb’s love of his dogs. So, for your edification, here is the poem, attributed to “Anonymous”:
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….
Herb will be there at the Rainbow Bridge, waiting for Otto, Brownie, Charlie, and Blue to join him.