This questions keeps coming up, ever since I was a kid, running through my Maryland suburban home with my dog Socks. I never got a good answer as a child, or as an adult. I even researched the bible on this topic and could not find a definitive position on the subject. So I’ve had to think this one through and have concluded that dogs are in heaven (for cat lovers, this conclusion applies to cats as well). Why did I reach this conclusion, it just makes sense. I can’t imagine a heaven that does not include our canine companions. My current dog, Scout, and the 5 previous dogs I’ve had, all display the core attributes you would expect to encounter in a heavenly creature. Well, maybe not all 5, my mother’s poodle, would be an exception (sorry Mom!). But the others all had the sweet innocence of a two year old, the patience of a loving mother, and the loyalty of a fellow soldier under fire, and they are this way every day!
Each evening when I come home from work, Scout is at the door to greet me, with pure joy and excitement, as if I’ve been gone for months. I wonder where he thinks I go each day. Maybe he thinks I’m off hunting for game that somehow miraculously becomes his dog food and gets packaged neatly in a big bag. Or maybe he thinks I’m off running or biking or hiking, since that is where I take him on weekends. He must think my life is a thrill because he is always curious to see what I am bringing into the house, even if it’s only new smells on my cloths. After his celebration dance, Scout becomes my constant companion and doesn’t leaves my side for the rest of the evening. If I sit, he lays down at my feet. No need for conversation, he is good with just being together, although a rub behind the ears or on the belly is always welcomed. “Oh, right there,” he tells me with a satisfied groan.
I remember my previous dog, Rusty, who we got when the kids were very young. No matter how much the kids pulled his tail, twisted his ears, or dressed him in tutus and sunglasses, he was always gentle and loving. When Rusty was still less than a year old, he would take unending abuse from my toddler and return the abuse with a gentle lick to her face. What a loving gesture! Dogs never seem to hold a grudge. No matter how much you discipline them, they accept your scolding and are ready to be your friend as soon as you are done. They are often our protectors and outperform any alarm system money can buy. They are great listeners and seem to understand our moods. A biscuit or table scrapes once in a while are great, but are not really necessary to build the tight bond we have with our dogs. Scout is incredibly curious. He always wants to know what the human race is up to. I remember wrapping gifts last Christmas. Scout had to smell ever box, ribbon, and roll of wrapping paper as I wrapped each gift. Then when we opened our gifts on Christmas day, he acted like he had never seen them before. Way to keep a secret buddy!
Our fury friends can make us laugh for almost no reason or bring unexplained healing powers. I was backpacking last summer with my adult son and Scout. About 2 AM one night it started to rain and Scout decided it was time for him to join us in our two man tent. I reluctantly let him in and got him settled at our feet. One hour later I awoke to two big brown eyes staring down on me. Apparently the act of opening my eyes was interpreted as an invitation. As Scout wagged his tail, he proceeded to lay down on his back right between my son and I, with his paws up in the air. I wanted to be angry with the wet dog laying on top of me, but instead, my son and I both started laughing. Scout wanted to join in on the fun, so he started licking us both in our faces. We were unable to stop the onslaught as our arms were buried in our mummy bags. This made us laugh harder. Sleep was limited the rest of the night, but we awoke feeling refreshed and strangely happy.
I have read stories about how dogs are used in hospitals and retirement centers to bring healing (and joy) to patients. I see service dogs who loyally serve their masters with skill and amazing patience. Having been a dog owner my entire life, this does not surprise me. Its possible God gave us dogs to serve a special purpose as a companion and to teach us unselfish love. Who knows, maybe they are angels in disguise. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6