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Do Dogs Go To Heaven?
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Do Dogs Go to heaven?
When Drake, our beautiful yellow Lab, died after almost fifteen happy, yard-frolicking years, Sally and I agreed…no more dogs. And we kept our vow until one day Sally came home from work with the sad story of one of the girls who was getting a divorce and was worried about her little female Brittany Spaniel named Skeet. She had good reason to be concerned. No one wanted her. Skeet was two-years-old and had been abused. She suffered from separation anxiety and would leave little momentous, showing her displeasure at being left by herself. Skeet, the runt of the litter, was no hunter, running for cover at the sound of lightning or a shotgun. Such irony naming the dog after the sport of skeet shooting. With all of these problems (or challenges as Cesar Millan might say) we knew that no one would want the little creature and her unhappy fate was a foregone conclusion. So, we brought Skeet home.
A visit to the vet confirmed Skeet was in good health but we all agreed she would make a lousy mother so we had her spayed. Sally and I were gentle with our “little girl” and would not raise a voice when she misbehaved; a loud human voice always brought on the quivers. I walked her twice daily and soon learned the signs of her being bored but since I work at home, I was able to play with her or , in some way, give her attention.
She gained weight and I told Sally the dog was getting fat. But Sally said (somewhat defensively) “At least, she‘s not fat fat.”.
Two years later I’m happy to report that Skeet has come a long way. Her separation anxiety issues seem gone and her constant barking when left alone in the car has pretty much ended. She is still is afraid of lightning but is getting better. Skeet is a happy little creature and very affectionate. Watching her run is a beautiful thing. . She is quite smart and seems to enjoy being a dog…a happy dog, at that. We allow her to sleep on our bed and in cold weather she sneaks under the covers. My son says that’s her tick removal method.
Recently we were planning a trip to New Hampshire and noticed Skeet had a lump under her chin. We ignored it for a day or two but as the lump began to spread, we got worried. The vet said it was an infection and a gland was involved but with proper medication she would improve. The next day the swelling grew larger and the left side of her mouth began to droop, giving her the look of a St. Bernard. She had the mean grimace of a Popeye without the pipe. “Give it another twenty-four hours,” our vet said and sure enough, the next day our little dog’s cute little face was back almost to normal.
On the way to New Hampshire, I confessed to Sally that I had prayed for Skeet. Sally said she had too and felt kind of guilty. I knew what she meant. With all the sufferring and heartche in the world we were bugging God with our concern for a little dog. “There should be lesser deities,” I said, “ a goddess of dogs..a spirit that looks after lost socks or one that helps you pass an algebra test.”
We both knew I was trying to be funny. Our God wants to know us. He is concerned with all of our problems. He is the perfect Father. And by letting it all out to our Father we get to know ourselves better. What do we pray about? It says a lot about us. Do we always pray in a ceremonious way? Do we pray for the stranger in the checkout line who may need our prayers? As we go spinning down the street in our cars, do we pray for the kids on the street or that couple, obviously in love, strolling in the tree-lined park. Do we thank God for our blessings and His many gifts Are we mindful of the big things he has done for us and the many, many little things. No, God is not upset when we pray for little things, not even a runt of the littler like a little Brittany.
The whole episode reminds me of the story of the old lady who kept asking her pastor if her dog would go to heaven. She was an old English teacher who loved the works of Charles Dickens and had named the Jack Russell terrier Pip. The minister gave vague answers and often rolled his eyes heavenward.
“Dogs weren’t looked upon with much favor in Bible times and I’m concerned because I love Pip so much,” she said.
Finally, the pastor said, “ God loves you and your needs mean a lot to Him and I’m sure if you can’t be happy in heaven without Pip, God will make sure Pip is there with you …in heaven.”
Then, of course, there is the marvelous poem about meeting our dogs in heaven. No one knows who wrote it. Could it have been an understanding angel? Probably not but it does offer hope for those of us whose lives have been blessed by these wonderful animals who are so willing to give us lessons in love.
The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
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