I can't definitively say whether or not pets go to heaven. I can tell you that, having just lost our loyal German Shepherd of ten years... I hope it is so. Because somewhere in my heart there is an empty place that just wants to see him one more time. I would pull into the driveway on our farm and get out of the car and here he would come tail wagging to greet me every time. When he did something wrong and I would yell at him, he would hang his head and go lay down on one of his many large doggie beds and look at me and blow out a big sigh. Then he would stare at me with sad eyes until I relented and said, "Ohhh, okay, come on over here." With a bound, he would leap up, run over, and lay his head on my leg and lean against me; everything instantly forgiven and forgotten. At 100 lbs that's a lot of dog leaning but I didn't seem to mind it much. I wonder at how well we treat our dogs sometimes. I don't give that much attention to my family or friends I'm fairly certain.
Nowadays, when I get out of the car, he doesn't come running out to meet me. I walk across the back field to our garden where there is a Asian-style grave and memorial with his picture, and I mourn for the empty place in my heart. So I do hope there is a place in heaven for him. Here is what I do know and I hope it's a much of a comfort for you as it is for me.
According to the Christian Bible, God created man and women different than the animals in that humans were created in the image of God, something not said about animals. Also, if you read the Bible in the context for which it was meant, you can see that God not only loves us but he deeply loves us more than we can comprehend. He also clearly says that he cares a lot for his creation in saying that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing it and even the hairs of our head are numbered. God may have run out of numbers on me (I'm kinda bald up top). But seriously here is my point. We have the capacity to care and love extremely deeply. We don't always, but we have that capacity and ability. If we do, how much, so much, more much does God love and care. If we can become so attached to an animal, don't you think God really cares about them too and cares about if we see them again?
We are created in God's image and so I like to look around at life lived to see the image of God... like a reflection in the water. There are soldiers that go on deployment for months and years at a time, leaving their family behind. Have you ever seen a soldier return and surprise their children by suddenly showing up? Those kids LEAP into their daddy or mommy's arms and wrap their arms around them, crying for joy. If WE are so full of love and compassion, is God less? Or is he more. Doesn't he see our tears and figuratively save them in a bottle? Doesn't he know our pain more than we know it ourselves?
Of course He Does. Don't you think that with God's unbridled love, care, and compassion that he wouldn't arrange for a homecoming replete with our beloved pets as well? Hope is an interesting concept. There are some things I might hope for that may never happen. But my hope is built on the record of history and my personal experience with God who not only walks with me, but carries me in his arms safely through the valleys and storms. So I have a hope to one day see that dog running towards me again, tail wagging, and bury his head in my leg. It's a hope based on the goodness, mercy, and love of God that if I, a simple human, can love a dog so much, God loves so much more!
A good friend found out that Sun Tzu had suddenly died and sent me this message. It's a special message and I deeply appreciate her care. It doesn't help me stop grieving because it reminds me of my buddy. But it does help me remember the question posed in the Bible that I always fall back to: "Will not the God of all the earth do right?" I think he will, and I think he does; even when we don't and can't understand.
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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