My first dog was named Nickel because his mother was named Penny. It seemed logical at the time. I called him Nicky. Nicky was a mixed terrier. He loved chasing mice down holes and digging up anything he could find. We had him for a few years before he was hit by a car and gravely injured. The vet “put him down.” I was heartsick as most who lose a favorite pet. Children occasionally ask us, “Do dogs go to heaven?” Grief is a tricky emotion. I was reminded of this when I came upon a story about a woman’s grief. After her dog died, she confessed that she missed her dog more than her father.
Dogs have a way of demonstrating unconditional devotion to their owners. The woman’s father, it seems, was distant and judgmental. She could talk to her dog but not to her father. Her father died. Her dog died. She felt guilty, sad, and angry about the whole thing. Do dogs go to heaven? Her dog was affectionate and would curl up next to her whenever she sat down or went to bed. She and her father could not even hug each other. Her father was not a bad man or abusive. He just retreated into himself and never did live up to her expectations of being an affirming, loving Dad. Grief and guilt walk hand-in-hand.
Our girls grew up with a dog named Dusty. He died of old age at 16. When the girls were pre-teens one of the young adults from the church took them home for us one Sunday evening. Dusty lived in our backyard. The girls could not get in the house, so they all went around to the backyard to wait for us. Dusty, seeing a strange man in the yard, immediately sprang into action. He started barking and positioned himself between the girls and “the stranger” until we got home. Dusty was their protector. They never forgot his spontaneous devotion. Of course there are dogs in heaven—and cats, horses, lions, lambs, and other incredible creatures of God’s making we know nothing about yet. In our grief and in our guilt, it is good to spend time in quiet reflection. Include Psalms 145 and 148 today.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Spend time with your family and your pets. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.Share this webpage: