The story goes that my cousin's dog came up missing early one morning. My cousin, Margie, is blind. Her seeing-eye dog, a Labrador retriever, served as her eyes and lifelong protector. Her dog had been her best friend and partner for over 13 years.
Margie's brothers, my cousins David and TJ, set out on a hunt for her dog. They searched everywhere thinking that when Margie got out of bed, she would worry about her dog. Finally, after a three-hour search, they found him--near a creek a couple miles down the road. He had laid down and died.
When they arrived home, concerned about how to tell Margie about her beloved dog, they found that Margie had passed away in her bed some time during the night. Stranger than fiction, isn't it? A sad, sad story, but wondrous in another way. For it seems to me there is a world unknown to us. The world of animal connection.
Of all the animals in the world, I believe our pets hold a special connection to the human world we cannot see or hear. For centuries, our domesticated animals have been loved, nurtured, adored, and unfortunately abused, by humans. We've taught birds how to talk, dogs how to sniff out drugs and cancer, and I've heard of more than one cat that has saved their owner from a house fire.
I was told in church many years ago, that animals do not have souls. As God made man a little lower than the angels, he also made animals a little lower than man. That when a dog dies, that's it. No life after death for animals. I think that's a load of crap. (The ministry I grew up in dished out a lot of crap, as if every member were mentally challenged with no mind of their own. Things have changed.)
Obviously, I no longer believe that. I believe the bond between humans and their animals is often stronger than to other humans. For example, my dear friends, Tim and Tina. Their German Shepard passed away last year from a tumor. They're still grieving. The death of their dog, Casey, altered the course of their life. I don't believe they'll ever get over it. They'll get used to being without him, but never over it. My dear friend, Dena, does not have children, but don't tell her that. Her Lucy and Olivia kitties are her babies.
The unconditional love we receive from animals is a God-given virtue. It's why so many fight for animal rights. They've experienced that love somewhere along the way.
When I hear about someone who has abused an animal, I find it's always a demented and tormented individual. Somebody who needs either locked up, sedated on heavy doses of drugs, or wrapped in a straight jacket. Someone who should neither own an animal nor bear a child. And when you find a ferocious dog, it's usually because a human has mistreated it.
There are things in this life we cannot see or hear as humans. Dogs and cats, it seems to me, were created for our pleasure and enjoyment. We cannot hug a lion, but we can purr along with our kitty-cats. We cannot romp and play with a grizzly, but God has blessed us with the companionship of our pooch. We cannot hop on a rhinoceros, but we can trot all the way to the next county on top of our palomino. Only in Heaven will the lion lay down with a lamb.
But your animals are your extended family members. They deserve love. They know us, often, better than we know ourselves. They talk to us in ways we don't think about. They save us from cancer, fires, floods--from death.
I believe, with my whole heart, God gives us the desires of our hearts. He did not give you the love of your dog or cat to never see it again after its passing. I believe Margie and her dog are together in Heaven, except now, Margie can see her dog. Your precious pet that is loved by you is awarded a piece of your soul. You'll see it again.
I'm sure of it.
Blessings to you and yours.