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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Do all dogs go to heaven? Mom hoped so

Apr 28, 2023 12:40PM ● By Nick Thomas

Mother’s Day may come and go, but memories of my mother aren’t so fleeting. 

My mother was quite a remarkable person. She was admired by all for her hospitality and her extraordinary ability to charm people with spontaneous generosity and kindness. 

Her benevolence wasn’t limited to humans. She displayed the greatest affection for animals, especially the many dogs that inhabited (more like ruled) our home throughout the years, including her last dog, Rufus.

Mom would often quip how she hoped one day to be reunited with her earthly canine companion in heaven. With a sly grin, she’d remind us to include a box of dog treats in her final resting place. 

But not everyone shared my mother’s thoughts on the fate of animals. Preachers tell us that the path to heaven involves redemption. But unlike humans, who are apparently awash with wickedness, animals have never sinned. (Note that being a “naughty boy” on grandma’s priceless antique rug does not constitute a biblical sin). 

So the question of redemption—and being judged accordingly—seemingly does not apply to animals. Perhaps a more fundamental issue revolves around whether animals possess a soul.

Some time ago, I asked for the thoughts of a former priest at a local Catholic church. He noted there was a distinction between animals and man since “animals do not have immortal souls” because he said God breathed his spirit into man, not animals.

However, some Scriptures suggest that animals might find their way to heaven, such as the account of Elijah being taken up by a chariot pulled by flaming horses in 2 Kings 2:11-12). And in Revelation 19:14, the description of Jesus returning to Earth indicates armies following him from heaven on white steeds. 

But hold your horses! Does this mean your favorite childhood pony will be tied to the pearly gates awaiting your arrival? Will dogs be wagging their tails and cats purring sweetly in anticipation of their masters coming home?

A local Baptist pastor told me he too saw no biblical evidence to expect a meet and greet with pets in heaven. 

“Animals were created for man’s use and pleasure,” he said. “Man and animals have unbelievable bonding relationships which are wonderful and fulfilling. But animals are to be ruled by man. We have them as pets, as beasts of burden, for food...”

If that’s true, perhaps it’s just as well. Especially for us lifelong meat eaters, no one wants an afterlife confrontation with a herd of angry cows, pigs and turkeys eager for revenge.

But the real issue for people like my mother is the fate of their pets. After all, she would say, if any creatures were deserving of a special place of eternal peace and comfort—a kingdom free from fleas, worms, baths, thunderstorms and vets—it would be her beloved dogs.

Mom left us many years ago, but I still picture her, especially around Mother’s Day, lying in bed knowing she would never play fetch with Rufus again. But her spirits were raised briefly when a nurse allowed us to sneak Rufus into the hospital room late one night for a final farewell.

Propped up on her bed with his paw on her arm, she struggled to pat him. I’m sure it comforted her to believe a welcoming committee of past canine companions was patiently waiting to greet her one more time.

The top gift on a pet owners wish list

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