So – Pope Francis made news again, this time with the question of whether or not dogs go to Heaven. Now it turns out maybe he didn’t really say that. I hope it’s true. I’ve spent a lot of time the last few weeks retraining my three “kids”, after a couple incidents between them. The thought of possibly having to remove one of them from our “family” was really hard. But that’s for another day. (That’s why no new posts lately.) What I’m putting up today goes back more than four years ago. To a very, very hard day.
Since it’s in the news, I’m sure it’s something other dog people are thinking about. It’s from my old site – so this seems like a good time to post it over here. When I originally wrote it – it was to mostly comfort me, I think. I put it up on the site to maybe bring comfort to others. Now, it seems like maybe there’s another reason as well. Some people get interested in Christianity after they have kids. They want their children to know about it. Maybe it has to do with the possibility of seeing them in Heaven. I know that’s a factor for older people as they reach the end of their lives. For those of us that don’t have “real” children – who consider our pets to be our “kids” – and especially for those that also don’t have parents who even cared much about Heaven – maybe the thought of those pets being there might be enough to get some interest going. Let me be clear here – I am most definitely not saying the pet is the justification for going to Heaven. So please don’t write me back with nasty comments about that. Even C. S. Lewis write about little, seemingly inconsequential, things that can get us to think about God. Why could our pets not be one of those things that drives us to learn more about Him? Anything that brings us to really know the Lord is a good thing. And that’s what I’m talking about.
Anyway – here is the original, from May 28th, 2010. After that, is a postscript to the original article – written the next day.
May 28, 2010
All dogs go to Heaven, don’t they? Sounds like a strange question for my site, doesn’t it? Well – not really. It’s actually very relevant – at least to me – and maybe you’ll think for you also.
Today was a sad day – and yet it may also be a good day. Depends on how one answers that question of whether or not all dogs go to Heaven. To me – it’s yes. I feel in my heart that it has to be yes. Tonight, I’ll be doing some research to see if anything supports my faith that my friends will be waiting for me in Heaven.
Comment from December 13, 2014. For what it’s worth, as I’m preparing to re-post this on my WordPress site, this Bob Dylan song comes up on iTunes – “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”.
If you read carefully, you noticed I said “friends”. Almost 17 years ago, I met Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. The first time I saw them, they didn’t actually have names – they were just 2 four week old Shih Tzu’s that were inseparable. Two brothers – same litter – with one squeezing between his brother and the wall to stay close to him.
Four weeks later, I was allowed to take them home. That’s when they became Holmes & Moriarty.
Over the next 17+ years, many changes took place. I went through some of the darkest days of my life. Holmes & Moriarty were my reason for getting up in the morning – my reason to come home from work at the end of the day instead of working all night – what kept me going. Eventually, I met the woman who is now my wife – and they were there when I got down on one knee and proposed to her. So they were with us for the best years of my life (so far) as well. No longer were they my only reason for being – but also now important to both of us. Clearly – in our opinions – they were a gift from God to me to get me through those years. And my wife and I both consider the times we had with them since we met to also be a gift from God for the joy that they brought to us. So – dogs do come from Heaven – in our opinions.
But what does the Bible say?
After doing a search of an electronic version of the NIV – I found 14 specific references to dogs. All of them were negative. Uh Oh.
So why didn’t I just leave that part out? Well – I can’t leave it out. It surprised me – that’s for sure. But I can’t leave it out – it would be dishonest. But does God really think dogs are that bad? Is it just a cultural difference – that in the Bible days, people didn’t have pets? Although we keep dogs as pets now, they used to be wild animals.
Maybe the more important thing is to look at some non-specific references to animals. After all – they are creations of God. How does He feel about His creations? For example, in the very first instance, in Genesis 1:24-25 –
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
That would include dogs – and they were good.
So far – so good. Continuing on then, in Genesis 1:26-28 –
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
So God created all the animals – and man – and we were given the command to subdue the earth and rule over the life on it. Choosing to domesticate some of them could clearly be part of that command. As part of that process – attitudes about the animals may change. Some people still don’t like dogs – so in them the attitude may not have changed at all. But – ultimately the judge is God – and the evidence is that He views all of His creatures as being good. So – they are from God.
But still – will they go to Heaven?
Well – there’s an interesting segment in Romans 1:18-20
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
God’s eternal power and divine nature can be clearly seen in what He has made. In that case, would these wonderful things he has made be left out of Heaven?
There’s also another section in Romans, that the NIV calls “Future Glory” – in Romans 8:18-25
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Remember in the first part of this article – from Genesis, where it says that all of God’s creations are good? But – as Paul says here, there were problems – things are not as they were meant to be – because of the fall of man, when Adam & Eve were tempted by Satan.
Yes – this section is dealing with the redemption of man.
However – as it says here and in other parts of the Bible – creation – in and of itself – was not bad. It was good. But God’s intent appears to be not to destroy His creations, but to bring them back to the perfect state that they were in.
As part of that – we get new bodies – ones that don’t decay – that will last forever. While all we see is bodies that do deteriorate, die, and turn to dust – as Christians we believe that this is not an insurmountable problem for God to overcome. We believe that He will have that new Heavenly body for us in Heaven. But it’s still us. Better – perfect – but still us. If all of His creation is good – why would everything else be discarded?
I could go on about the bond between people and their dogs – about how they can be such an example of unconditional love – the joy they bring – and more. But all of that is emotional. And some people don’t feel that way at all – at least not about dogs. Maybe it’s the way you feel about cats – or birds – or some other pets.
Yes – I started with the issue of “All dogs go to Heaven, don’t they?” Maybe it’s not just dogs. Maybe it’s everything that God has made will also be in Heaven. After all – when God brought the great flood – He had Noah take two of each creature with him in the ark. God could have wiped them all out – or created something brand new from scratch. But he didn’t. He had Noah keep two of each of them – so that His creation could continue. Maybe for man’s enjoyment – maybe for God’s enjoyment – maybe for both. I’d think it was both.
There is not agreement at all between different people – different religions – about what Heaven will be like. I want to make that very clear. This is all my feelings – based on what I read, flavored by my experiences and my hopes. I’m not trying to tell anyone that if you disagree with what I’ve written, then you’re wrong. My goal is to make you think. To examine your hopes, your faith, the things you value, and put things in the right perspective.
Can I actually know the answer to my question with absolute certainty? No. As it says from the Romans excerpt above:
But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
And so I will wait – patiently. As will my wife. Until the day we get to Heaven. Until we get to see Sherlock Holmes & Professor Moriarty – alive and well again – running to greet us and wagging their tails with joy.
We were talking today about how this is the difference between Christians, who have faith that we will be saved, raised from the dead, and spend eternity in Heaven with God – and those that don’t. I feel very said for people that don’t have this. Everything must seem so pointless – so depressing.
From my favorite verse – John 14:25 –
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
So now – I still believe that all dogs go to Heaven.
There’s more to this story though. About two years ago, the vet suggested that we should get another dog – because Holmes and Moriarty were so attached to each other that it would be devastating for the one who remained after the first one passed away. Well – Holmes & Moriarty worked out so well – we got 2 more, not one. Both came from rescue shelters – one a Shih Tzu – the other a Silky Terrier mix. We have no doubt that the addition of the two younger ones lengthened the lives of Holmes & Moriarty.
Holmes has been slowing down the last few months – but on Monday, it became obvious that his time was coming to an end – he was just getting too weak. No pain or suffering – just weak. Up to that day, Moriarty was still doing well. They were both about 120 years old (in people years) – so there wasn’t perfect health – but no evidence at all of major issues. Tuesday, Moriarty got sick. Wednesday, he had internal bleeding, but like Holmes no apparent pain. Thursday, we knew it was the end for both of them on this earth. This afternoon – Friday – we took them to the vet and they went home – to Heaven.
Only God could write a script like that. Two brothers – coming into the world at the same time – together from the moment they were born – bringing such joy to us for nearly 17 years – and returning home at the same time. And now – the two young guys that we got to comfort whichever of Holmes or Moriarty survived the other – will bring comfort to us.
We miss Holmes and Moriarty – there’s no question about that. I have their pictures on the wallpaper on my computer right now. I’m crying from time to time as I write this. I’m sure we both will for some time to come. But sometimes the tears are also tears of joy. They’re in Heaven. They’re waiting for us. But they’re also in a better place – alive and healthy and running around again.
That’s the peace that we both feel. That’s what gets us through this difficult time. And that’s what I pray everyone could feel. The sadness will still happen – because we’re human and we do look back. But Heaven is ahead of us – peace is ahead of us – and the strength and courage that we get from our faith in Jesus is what can remind us that we need to look forward. Not to forget the boys (as we call them) – but to remember that we will all be together again – in an even better place. I pray that everyone can have that feeling of peace.
December 13, 2014 – Current Song – “Hold on tight (to your dream)” by ELO
“Dog Heaven” by Cynthia Rylant
When dogs go to heaven, They don’t need wings
Because God knows that Dogs love running best.
He gives them fields. Fields and fields and fields.
When a dog first arrives in heaven, he just runs.
Dog heaven has clear, wide lakes
Filled with geese who honk and flap
And tease. The dogs love this.
They run beside the water and bark
And bark and God watches them
From behind a tree and smiles.
There are children.
God knows that dogs love children more than
Anything else in the world, so he fills Dog
Heaven with plenty of them. There are children
On bikes and children on sleds. There are
Children throwing red rubber balls and children
Pulling kites through the clouds. The dogs
Are there, and the children love them dearly.
The dog biscuits.
Biscuits and biscuits
As far as the eye can see.
God has a sense of humor, so He makes His
Biscuits in funny shapes for His dogs. There
are kitty-cat biscuits and squirrel biscuits.
Ice-cream biscuits and ham-sandwich biscuits.
Every angel who passes by
Has a biscuit for a dog.
And, of course, all God’s dogs
Sit when the angels say “sit.”
Every dog becomes a good
Dog in Dog Heaven.
Clouds inside out to
Make fluffy beds for the dogs
In Dog Heaven, and when they
Are tired from running and
Barking and eating ham-
The dogs find a cloud
bed for sleeping.
They turn around and
Around in the cloud.
.. until it feels just right,
and then they curl up
and they sleep.
God watches over
Each one of them
And there are no bad dreams.
Dogs in Dog Heaven
Have almost always
Belonged to somebody
On Earth and, of course,
The dogs remember this.
Heaven is full of memories.
So sometimes an angel will walk a dog
Back to Earth for a little visit and quietly,
Invisibly, the dog will sniff about his old
Backyard, will investigate the cat next
Door, will follow the child to school, will
Sit on the front porch and wait for the mail.
When he is satisfied
That all is well, the dog
Will return to Heaven with the angel.
It is where dogs belong,
Near God who made them.
The dogs in Dog Heaven who
Had no real homes on Earth
Are given one in Heaven.
The homes have yards and porches and there are
Couches to lie on and tables to sit under
While angels eat their dinners.
There are special bowls
With the dogs’ names on them.
And each dog is petted and reminded
How good he is, all day long.
Dogs in Dog Heaven may stay as long as
They like and this can mean forever.
They will be there when old friends show
Up. They will be there at the door.
PostScript to All dogs go to Heaven, don’t they?
May 29, 2010
After a good nights sleep, I woke up thinking about that story of dog heaven. It sounds so wonderful – paints a picture of something that Moriarty & Holmes, like all dogs, would expect paradise to be like. (See here for yesterday’s article on all dogs go to Heaven, don’t they?)
And then I think of what Paul writes about the growing pains and frustration of creation in Romans.
So we have a picture of Heaven, from a dog’s point of view, as prescribed by a human being. And it sounds so great.
And yet we also have a God that is so much better – has so much love – can do so much more – that anything we can even come close to imagining.
So if we think Holmes & Moriarty and all of our animal friends are happy in Heaven – imagine something way better than that – and maybe we can begin to come close to what it’s really like for them.
And if God will do that for animals – remember this from Matthew 6:25 –
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?
Imagine then what it is like for our human friends and family – what it will be like for us. And whatever you imagine – it’s not even close to what it will really be like.
It’s amazing. God is amazing. He’s offered all of this to us – and so much more. All we have to do is accept it.
Have you? Is this what you see in your future? If yes – we’ll see you there – along with the 4 guys in the picture. If not – think about it – pray about it – ask Jesus to open the door for you. It’s a great future He’s prepared for us. Please don’t miss it.