Pet Heaven?

Unless you read my main blog, Afeatheradrift, you are unaware that we lost one of our pets earlier in the week.

Brandy, or beloved “girlie” died unexpectedly on Wednesday. We found her unable to get up, in her favorite outdoor spot that morning, and she died around noon. She did not appear to be suffering at all, she was just too weak to rise.

Her death has been harder on both my husband and I than we had ever thought possible. We had talked of this inevitability a number of times this last year as she approached 12. Our other dog is near 14. Both were/are large dogs, so anything much over the age of ten is a gift.

I’ve spent plenty of time in the morbidity of “not being with her in her last moments”; she probably died about fifteen minutes or so before and both Parker and I had sat with her within the hour, petting her and speaking of our love for her.  I’ve also found myself in tears thinking of her alone in the dark grave on the top of the hill where we buried her that afternoon.

What am I to conclude?

As believers, all Christians believe in some sort of afterlife I think. It goes from the rather (in my opinion) childish thought that we all wander around in a park wearing white clothes and smiling a lot to a more ethereal existence as “spirit” among Spirit. We take comfort in the belief that life doesn’t end with the physical death of the body, but endures in our Creator. How that happens and what the future holds, we speculate upon endlessly, but have no real knowledge.

What of our pets? Indeed what of all the other sentient or semi-sentient creatures that we share this planet with? What of any bit of life, however primitive?

Is there some dividing line? Can there be? Should there be? I take no stock in feel good preachers who assure us that our pets await us in heaven. For some,  a huge menagerie would await them.

But yet, I struggle to deal with the pain of there being no bit of my Brandy still existing. I tear up at the thought that she is no more in any manner. I need to think of her safe and at peace, wagging her indomitable tail as she flies across a meadow chasing rabbits and butterflies with the same joyous heart she exhibited every moment of her life on earth.

It seems to me that there is no sense in some arbitrary line of demarcation. You can conceive of your Creator, and thus you have eternal existence; you on the other hand have not that capacity and therefore do not. But what of all those characteristics of unconditional love, loyalty, patience, and the ever wished for ability to live totally in the moment? Don’t these count for something? Don’t they in some way equal or near equal this tipping point of what it means to be a soulful creature?

If there is anything that I demand in my God it is that God be understandable and therefore rational. If God is not that, then He is beyond my comprehension and in some manner not worth my efforts of faith. I have always been able to reconcile the world as I see it, and God.

 I have approached every seeming contradiction with an open heart and mind. I have not assumed a reconciliation is given. I have always known that honest critical thought required that one option must always be that God is not real. But so far, I have always, by reason arrived at what to mean seem rational means to explain reality with God as the Creator.

I sense that I will find a satisfying and comforting answer in all this. So far, it is still too confusing, the pain too fresh, the loss too sudden and violent to my senses. Yet I pray each day and night, and frankly several times each day, that whatever exists of my beautiful dear Brandy is safe with my God, protected and with an  understanding of her place in creation. I trust that she hears me in some way. I trust that she knows that we will never forget her.

She, more than most humans,  represented what Jesus would have us learn about love and trust. She did her job well. She has gone to her reward.  I trust that this is so. I trust that I can believe this fully and find my peace with the empty place in my heart.

Amen.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Thomas Bryner
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 14:20:17

    You might like this Will Rogers quote: “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

    Hindus believe in equality of the spirit; whether the spirit resides in a human body or an animal body at the moment is immaterial. It all changes anyway.

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Aug 14, 2011 @ 14:36:34

      Indeed Thomas I understand about Hindu beliefs. I guess Buddhists believe similarly. Thanks for the thoughts.

      Reply

  2. Terri
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 17:44:29

    While in semiary I had en ethics professor who once discussed this.mhe said he told his children that animals do not go to heaven, they just cease to exist. His kids raised a rukus at that. Most of the class did too. But really, who knows? I like to think that life continues on some form or substance, it if life continues in something similar to life in this realm I am going to live in a zoo of cats, dogs, birds, and a frog. Oh Lord, have mercy.

    That said, love to you, especially in this time of sorrow, I am looking in that direction as my sweet Roxie is 13 and Ruby is 9. Every day is a gift.

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Aug 15, 2011 @ 13:48:58

      Terri, as a reasonably rational person I intellectually decided that it was unlikely that as a “personality” our Brandy continues. However, I do believe that there is intelligence in every atom and that that is not destroyed, since the atoms are not. She goes on, and is part of the vast intelligence that God created. The thing is Terri, that Parker and I have discussed this a lot in the last year since all our pets are near in age, within a couple of years. I guess it was the incredible suddenness of it. She hadn’t been sick at all. I think this horrid heat we had in July really must have taken a toll on her, and it wore her poor heart out. I found her old collar today while packing. She hadn’t used it in years, but I’ve packed it and intend to place it on a shelf where I can see if with a picture. Thanks for your thoughts. We do so appreciate it.

      Reply

  3. Lac
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 16:39:30

    I’m sorry for the loss of your beloved pet. I struggle with the concept of an afterlife, but I have to hope in something that trancends understanding…not just a ceasing to exist.

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Aug 17, 2011 @ 12:27:05

      I don’t have a problem with our spirit living on beyond physicality, but I do not understand how that translates to less sentient life. I believe the spirit of all life lives on, but sadly, I suspect our pets are not aware of themselves in any sense. I would like to be wrong on that! 🙂

      Reply

  4. Sue
    Aug 21, 2011 @ 15:28:57

    I really don’t know if my dogs are in heaven or if there is a heaven, but I do know that my mind is at peace if I think that my loved ones (including my pets) are in a happier place. I love this story…. mhttp://www.rainbowbridge.com/Poem.htm…..I also just like the idea that someone is waiting for me and happy to see me! I can just see my dog when out of the corner of her eye, she sees me walking towards her! I have never understood why people get in a huff about dogs (or cats) or any other living creature going to heaven……where is their proof? My thoughts are with you and your husband…..it can be a very difficult time. I hope that after you move, you will share your home with another of God’s living creatures and you can share your love with it as you did your Brandy…

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Aug 22, 2011 @ 10:45:59

      Thanks so much for you thoughts and the link. We are doing well. We still have another elderly dog,and we won’t get another until he has passed. It wouldn’t be fair to him to have a pup around annoying him. We take peace in believing that Brandy is no longer suffering and that in some fashion she has moved on. I like to think of her as trailing around after one of my favorite saints, though I’m halfway sure she’s been given permission to fly–she always looked at birds as most fortunate creatures! lol… Thanks again.

      Reply

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