OUR BELOVED PETS
As a lifetime pet owner (mostly dogs) I have always marveled and lamented at the brevity of my pet's lives. For me personally, if a dog makes it to 13 years, they have lived a pretty good life. That being said, compared to human life it is only a fraction and before you know it, our best friends are gone. Because I am as human as the next guy, and also a person of faith, not to mention a dog lover, the natural question springs forth (really for anyone who has lost a beloved pet), is this: Will I see my beloved pets again? Do animals go to heaven?
I have attended a Christian Service in one form or another for virtually my entire life, faithfully, every Sunday, for 48 years. I have literally never, ever, not once -- not ever -- heard this issue addressed from the pulpit. As I have come to learn over the years, it is an issue that means a great deal to a great many people. The fact that the church (as an organic institution) has been almost silent on this issue is troublesome, because animals are among the very first fruits of creation itself. It is also troublesome because as life wears on and as I am now middle aged, I reflect on what really matters to people. We are created for fellowship; we are created to give and receive love. Love is a basic human need and God has wired it directly into our DNA. He is love incarnate and we are created in His image. He is the God who cares for the needs of the birds of the air. He is the God whereby a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice.d
Is it probable that the loving and omniscient giver and Creator of all life could be callous and indifferent toward that which He Himself has fashioned? I think we all know in our hearts the answer to that question. The answer is no. It would seem that the church, however, can sometimes be incredibly calloused to the exact same issue, even neglectful. It never ceases to amaze me to hear senior church leaders blithely and sometimes pompously dismissing the issue of animals and the afterlife as unimportant, casually declaring that "animals don't have souls." Really Pastor? Have you studied this issue? Is that what the Scriptures are teaching? What does Jesus return to earth riding and what is that animal's home? Does it have a soul? Does it have life? Why were animals put on Noah's ark and not simply allowed to be destroyed and recreated? Have you ever looked into the eyes of an intelligent dog? I defy anyone to tell me my German Shepherds do not have a mind, will and emotions. I defy anyone to tell me that my animals don't have both an individual identity and a soul. For the people who know nothing about dogs, please look at this video:
The preceding video is of a dog grieving at his owner's grave. Why is the dog grieving? Does the dog have a mind, will and emotions? Revelation 6:2, (NIV) states, "I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest." What is the origin of that horse? Does it come from earth or does it come from somewhere else? There are numerous scriptures that I could quote and reference about God Himself caring for the animals. It is antithetical to the very nature of the Creator to destroy His own creation.
There is virtually no evidence, anywhere in Scripture, that the Creator eradicates His own creation. Instead of God willing His Creation to a state of non-existence, what we see is that all of life will spend eternity in one location or another. God creates eternal beings, not temporal ones. In short, if you are a person of faith, I believe with all my soul, that you will see your beloved pets again. I believe God has them with Him, and that any suggestion otherwise flys in the face of Scripture and the nature of the Creator Himself. Yes Virginia, there really is a God, and He is so loving that (I believe with every fiber of my being, and based on much study, ration, meditation and prayer) He has your beloved pet. Yes, we will see them again.
If you have read this and are touched (and wish to delve further into this line of reasoning), I highly recommend the book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" by Gary Kurz. You will find that neither you nor I stand alone in the belief that we will see our beloved pets again.
-- Posted by Ted Baccich, 12 May 2014
IN LOVING MEMORY
TEXAS STAR TRIUMPH’S GUCCI NANDO BACCICH (aka Nando)
June 17th, 2003 – February 10, 2010
I have not updated my blog in a while because it has been tremendously difficult to write. And this post in particular – I do NOT want to post unless it has honorable meaning to both myself and my readers, and ultimately to the noble creature who is memorialized here.
Every once in a great while, an ordinary Joe like me receives an unexpected blessing. For me that unexpected blessing was my magnificent German Shepherd, Nando. I say “unexpected” because, although we prayed and asked God to give us the right dog, we could not possibly have expected to get the incredibly noble beast that we called Nando. Nando, named for the hero of the Andes (Nando Parrado – “Alive” – see Amazon Book Recommendations), lived up to his namesake. Nando, a beautiful and majestic alpha male, had it all. We “hit the jackpot” when we got him. Our prayers for a good dog were answered and then some. Nando was at once loyal, family oriented, child friendly, fun-loving, incredibly intelligent, obedient, strong, stout hearted, friendly, athletic and agile. He had a heart that was bigger than he was, and his life epitomized the saying “man’s best friend.” He had a guttural “big bark” that would cause your heart to skip a beat while causing a near pressure tremor in the earth. He defended his territory/ our territory with absolute authority – like a Lion defending his pride. We always knew we had safety because we had Nando. No thief in his right mind would attempt any harm against us as long as Nando was there; he was a one dog security system. From head to tail Nando stretched roughly 5 feet or more. In his prime he weighed in at a lean and mean, 85 pounds and as he got older he topped the 100 pounds mark, yet was never fat and always full of muscle. He moved like Reggie Bush’s (Saints’ running back) bigger, faster brother. He was built like a magnificent wolf and he would inspire either awe or sheer terror wherever he went. He came from championship stock, and was the son of a German Champion named Triumph’s Gucci (hence his middle name).
I know that many people have had “Nando’s” of their own, and that the loyalty of a fine dog is something as American as apple pie. Unfortunately, Americans often take their blessings for granted, as a birth right of sorts. I believe it is safe to say I fit into that category. I absolutely loved Nando and I took the gift of him for granted, at least to an extent. When Nando came down with a terrible medical condition that eventually killed him while he was still in his prime, I was beyond distraught. I cried my guts out; I cried so hard in fact that I dehydrated myself and had a kidney stone attack. I can think of only one other time in my life when I cried like that, and it was not nearly as hard and gut wrenching as I cried with Nando.
Nando was a family member; I used to call him “my hairy son.” His condition deteriorated rapidly and I could do nothing to stop it and precious little to delay it. I knew I would have to look in his gentle, trusting, beautiful brown eyes and give the order to euthanize him via lethal injection. The pain would be unbearable as I would have to, for all practical purposes, kill my best friend. It is what it came down to, either put him down mercifully, or let him die a terrible death. And with the choice of euthanasia, even though the mind acknowledges the logic of the choice, the heart still feels the bitter sting of taking that precious life. And I could not help but to feel guilty as I watched life be taken from Nando; I watched life and light depart from his eyes. My face was the last thing he saw on this earth. Despite our best efforts, we could not save him. I wondered if perhaps I had been a better Christian, my prayers for his healing would have been answered, and he would have lived his full life span. He was only 6½ when he died. In good conditions, he could have easily lived twice that long.
Now I don’t want to be trite or disrespectful in comparing a dog to a human being, but grief is grief and sorrow is sorrow. A tragedy is a tragedy to the person who experiences it. C.S. Lewis wrote eloquently about the sorrow of death in his brilliant book, A Grief Observed. C.S. Lewis, a confirmed old bachelor, had an unexpected blessing as well, a beloved wife who he married later in life. Helen Joy Davidman (April 18, 1915 – July 13, 1960), also known as Joy Gresham, died unexpectedly after only three years of marriage to C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis tried to make sense out of the apparent senseless death of his wife, who also died young (age 45). He wrote regarding his feelings of God apparently abandoning him in his hour of need. An excerpt follows:
I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: 'Why hast thou forsaken me?' I know. Does that make it easier to understand?
Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'
In light of the untimely and terrible death his wife had suffered, Lewis frames the fundamental question as follows:
What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, "good"? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What have we to set against it?
He expresses his doubt with a force that many may find surprising from a figure so closely identified with the defense of Christian belief:
We set Christ against it. But how if He was mistaken? Almost His last words may have a perfectly clear meaning. He had found that the Being He called Father was horribly and infinitely different from what He had supposed. The trap, so long and carefully prepared and so subtly baited was at last sprung, the cross. The vile practical joke had succeeded.
And, if this is not enough to demonstrate how shaken his faith is, he follows with an even more devastating expression. Folks suggest that he should take comfort:
'Because she is in God's hands.' But if so, she was in God's hands all the time, and I have seen what they did to her here. Do they suddenly become gentler to us the moment we are out of the body? And if so, why? If God's goodness is inconsistent with hurting us, then either God is not good or there is no God: for in the only life we know He hurts us beyond our worst fears and beyond all we can imagine. If it is consistent with hurting us, then He may hurt us after death as unendurably as before it.
Sometimes it is hard not to say, "God forgive God." Sometimes it is hard to say so much. But if our faith is true, He didn't. He crucified Him.
C.S. Lewis has articulated a deep, dark dreadful thought that I believe nearly every person of genuine faith will one day struggle with and it is crystal clear in his writing. The darkest question for the man or woman of faith is not, “Does God exist?” The truly dark question is, “Is God good or is God evil?” When someone’s beloved, family pet unexpectedly develops a strange illness and is quickly brought down, even to the extent that the person has to make that terrible decision, either euthanize the pet or let him suffer horribly, then the heart question that is naturally articulated follows: Does God care? My dog Nando died a cruel and very untimely death, living out only about half of his expected life span. Similar to the story of Old Yeller, I had to make the gut wrenching decision to put him down, and I as his master knew I needed to do it myself. In my short life, it is the worst thing I have ever done.
I will always remember Nando and my heart will forever carry a scar the bears his name. There will never be another like him. I have had good dogs before; Nando was a great dog. When an adult human being dies of old age, they can look back with logic and their faculties and find some meaning in their lives and even in their death. But when a child or an animal dies young, there seems to be no meaning. And neither the child nor the animal can grasp a full understanding of their fate. The communication gap is such that neither the parents nor the master can fully express their love or their sorrow. All we can do is leave it to the hands of God, and trust that He will make all things right in eternity. It is really the only choice we are left with because death is a guarantee for all of us.
Many wonder if they will see their beloved pets again in heaven (assuming the pet owner goes there). Personally, I believe it is ludicrous to assume that the Creator destroys His creation. It seems to fly in the face of the fundamental laws of the Universe and in the nature of the Creator Himself. God is a Creator; that is His nature. The conquering Messiah returns from heaven riding a white horse who’s origin is heaven. The Lion lays down with the lamb there, so we know that animals are there. A sparrow (the least among birds) cannot fall to the ground without His notice. Is it probable that an incredibly beloved pet can escape his attention? I think not. I believe I will see Nando again, and I have asked God for that (again, this assumes that I get to heaven, which is another post for a different day). I believe Nando is there playing happily as he waits for me. He always waited for me – his love for me was real and vividly expressed when I returned from Iraq (or any other long absence). I believe that Nando is there, “Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high.”
* If you are reading this and you are currently grieving the loss of a beloved pet, I encourage you to take a look at the book recommendations (left tab) regarding pets and the afterlife.
* Memorial Tribute posted 14 February 2010