The Rainbow Bridge, a poem that has become infamous in the pet world, sets the scene of one’s pet finding eternal happiness in the afterlife. Like most pet lovers, the loss of a beloved cat or dog supplies us with a bounty of grief—a family member that doesn’t communicate through speech, but by love and gratitude to its owner.
“By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill, is a lush, green meadow where time stands still,” the poem reads. “Where the friends of man and woman do run, when their time on earth is over and done.”
Inspired by this poem and her love of animals, Mahopac resident Nicole Malandruccolo decided to dedicate her Girl Scout Gold Award to dogs both in life and in death.
“I love dogs and I love animals, and I couldn’t think of something to do and I called my aunt and she gave me the idea to refurbish a dog park or add something to it,” Malandruccolo said.
While visiting a dog park in Ossining, Malandruccolo noticed wooden bridges that gave the dogs a chance to play and exercise. Realizing that the addition would give an ordinary park some extra pep, Malandruccolo set her sights on Sycamore Park’s enclosed area devoted solely to man’s best friend.
After receiving an email from a Girl Scouts of America representative, Malandruccolo’s troop leader notified her that she would not have the customary four years to achieve her Gold Award. With a deadline set for the end of December, the Lakeland High School junior began her bridge-building process in April—giving her just eight months to complete the process.
A donation from Lakeland Lumber gave Malandruccolo the supplies she needed to construct two bridges that would be placed in two fenced areas within Sycamore’s dog park.
“I feel like dogs are going to get a ton of exercise from the bridges, I’m so happy to see them running all over it,” Malandruccolo said. “I’m happy that this will give them an opportunity to get healthier.”
The 11-year Girl Scout, however, went above and beyond the stipulations of her gold award. After reading the Rainbow Bridge, Malandruccolo decided to expand her effort into a commemorative project, giving pet owners a chance to honor their pets for lifetimes to come.
For Woofstock this past August, she painted wooden dog bones and sold them via a small donation. Dog owners could label them with the names of their beloved pets, which Malandruccolo then nailed to the dog bridges she constructed for the park.
Between her love of animals and the timely work dedicated toward her gold award, Malandruccolo has exhibited diligent work ethic and a heartfelt service to the greater community.
“Most people say that once you’re a Girl Scout, you’re a Girl Scout for life after you finish you’re gold award, so I just hope to continue helping out,” Malandruccolo said.