I just read and shared a touching post on Facebook about the letter a four-year-old girl dictated to her mom to be sent to God after her dog died.She included a picture so God wold recognize the dog. And some kind postal worker replied to her with a lovely message, sending the picture back since in Heaven we have no bodies and he had no place to keep it. The picture showed the little sprite hugging what appears to be a black lab.
Not all kids are that firm in their faith of an afterlife for dogs. Jacob believes, but when I said I was worried about Scooby today, he said, "Probably he's dying and he'll go to Heaven." Wonder if that's how he'll dismiss me someday. He did tell me once solemnly that he knew I would die because I'm old.
I remember still, with dismay, when I worked with the wife of a student at the Baptist Seminary. She was telling how her 13-year-old daughter took their dog's face in her hands and said, "Now, Fido (or whatever the dog's name was), you've got to stop eating so much or you'll get fat and die. And you can't go to heaven." Instinctively I said, "What an awful thing for a child to say to an animal." The mother calmly replied that it was true: because dogs don't have souls, they can't go to heaven. I managed to mutter, "They can to my heaven." Besides, who believes that dogs don't have souls? Dog people know better.
I've thought a lot about dog people lately--those who are and whose who aren't. I don't know how you explain it, but "liking dogs" doesn't make you a dog person. Dog people recognize dogs as individual beings with feelings, fear, love, hunger, al the same things that make us human. And they reach out to them in a way that non-dog people don't. Dogs are companions, not creatures to be kept for your convenience. I need to refine that thought a bit.
Jacob is right in that I've been worried about Scooby. He hasn't eaten since he came home from the vet Thursday night. Tonight he ate about half a cup of dry food after I stirred the juices from roasting chicken into it--but he daintily ate around his pain pill. I didn't even try the antibiotic. I do think I see improvement, though he walks with a definite tilt to the left, the direction in which his head is permanently cocked. (As a sympathy gesture--I guess--I've developed a horrible crick in my neck, on the left side, of course). But he's livelier, tries to play with Sophie, comes when I call him. I'll call the vet in the morning about meds and food--can't be roasting chicken all the time for him. But I'm sure not ready to give up on him, poor baby. I know he's still scared, but he soldiers on.