Saturday, December 13, 2014

If Dogs Have A Heaven...

Man, I was watching the evening news yesterday and saw this story. It played all evening. Pope Francis comforts a little child who was grieving the death of its pet with the promise that our pets would be with us in Heaven: "Paradise is open to all creatures." Social media took to the story and suddenly it's everywhere.

One of those cutesy, make-you-feel-warm-and-fuzzy-all-over stories the media loves. Okay, so do a lot of us love them too after a steady diet of sensationalistic bad news. Alas, like a lot of things that sound to good to be true, this is a hoax. David Gibson supplies the details over at Religion News Service.

Gibson points out: "The story had so much going for it: Francis took his papal name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of environmentalism who famously greeted animals as brothers and sisters." Among other things.

Mitzi was the first dog I ever personally owned. She was a tan and chocolate Chihuahua, and I loved her dearly. I was eleven years old, and remember well I when I first got her (she was found by some young adults who couldn't keep her and so gave her to my mom, who promptly gave her to me) how when I cradled her in my arms (which was often), she would hide her face and eyes in the crook of my elbow.

For a year or more she was my constant companion and bestest friend. She died when I was 12, after becoming impregnated by my parent's Chihuahua. We came home one day and found her in great distress. Mom took Mitzi to the emergency animal hospital. Later that evening the veterinarian called to tell us he had cut out thirteen puppies - far more than she could handle. The next day he called to let us know she died overnight. And just like that my best friend was gone. I still have collar in my possessions today, over forty years later. I could never forget Mitzi.

She did leave me a gift, though. Before her tragic pregnancy, she had gifted me with two little female puppies (the third, a male, died soon after birth). Runt and Sweet Thang, I named them. Runt looked quite a bit like her, but was much lighter in color. These little friends stayed with me until I was well into my twenties.

I never owned another dog. Losing my little friends was just too painful. I had second thoughts about getting Toonces, my cat. I had befriend scores of neighborhood cats over the years, who left me one by one. But there was always a bit of distance between us. Toonces sleeps on my bed. Spends time in my lap. When I am home she stays in her little bed, just feet from where I sit at my computer desk. She does keep me company during the long hours I am otherwise alone. To keep me humble, she still hisses, swats, and bites me on occasion. But those occasions are rare now. She has made her way into my heart.

She also reminded me of the first cat I ever personally owned, Mittens. Solid black she was, except for white "mittens" on her paws. She was an affectionate cat who would let me hold her and carry her around endlessly (but never hissed, swatted, or bit me). I had her when I was 8. I had her for a couple of years. And then one sunny summer evening some wild teenagers drove down my street and purposely ran her down. I thought my world would end.

Now frankly, I'm not convinced that people go to Heaven when they die. I hope so, but I just don't know. My pets have been such a treasured part of my life, I can see the comfort that sharing Heaven with them could be. However, the Rainbow Bridge must remain only a comforting thought for now.

If nothing else this faux story took me on a bittersweet journey down memory lane. My life has been greatly enriched by the pets I and my family have owned down through the years.

In fact, as I'm writing this I have my front door open, just letting the sun shine in through the storm door. And there is Toonces, rolling around on her back on the carpet, just sunning herself. I think I'm going to wrap this up and get down there with her.  


  1. It's always painful to lose a pet. I've lost two cockatiels -- a male who could sing like an angel, and a female who was always funny and gentle -- and it was heartbreaking when they pass away. I don't believe in an afterlife, but sometimes, it's nice to imagine them perched in a tree under a sapphire sky in a heavenly millet field.

  2. I do know what you mean, Ahab.

  3. If there is ever beings on this planet that deserve an afterlife, it's our pets - they give so much while demanding so little beyond rudimentary sustenance. Unfortunately, wishing for their eternal comfort in an afterlife is no more plausible than wishing for that perfect gift from Santa Claus - it's a great warm and fuzzy story but there is nothing to support it as anything more than myth - which is a shame, because as I previously stated - our pets have earned such rewards many many times over. I should hope that folks would recognize this and treat them better while they're here on the mortal plane. Happy Holidays Doug :)

    1. Thanks, Robert. Happy Holidays to you, too.

  4. All right, I'm gonna get me a cat; you've sold me. Done. Thanks, my friend. :p

    1. Happy Holidays, my friend. Do it. Cats are great ... in their own way.

    2. I've had cats and awesome dogs, but I've been thinking that I would love a little bitty kitty, and that sold me. I'll let you know when I get one. Very soon, I hope. :)