God has seen fit to bless me with several wonderful, loyal canine companions throughout my life. Yesterday, at approximately 2:15 p.m., my little Shih Tzu Bugsy went Home to be with Him.
We came home after church to find that Bugsy had dug his way out under the fence. This was completely abnormal behavior, and, when a neighbor brought him back to us, it was obvious that he was not himself. For the last month, Bugsy had been steadily declining in health and mental acuity; it no longer seemed right to continue pumping him full of drugs. He was suffering and couldn’t do anything about it.
I thank God that He knows me well enough to understand that I could not have handled it if Bugsy had been lost. It would have torn me to pieces to think of him alone and cold, left to drift away in a snowbank. In His mercy, He brought Bugsy back. We debated for about an hour before making the terrible drive to the emergency vet.
We held him and told him that we loved him. We reminded him that he was a good dog and that we didn’t want him to suffer anymore. The vet told us that he likely had cancer because the medication that we had been giving him would have helped him if it was anything else. He’d lost a pound over the course of a month because he wasn’t eating. She told us that it would be kinder to easy his suffering.
Choking back sobs, that what we did. He didn’t fight it and went very quickly. I have to think that he was ready for his pain and sickness to be over. I don’t know what kind of reasoning or understanding animals have, but I know that it must be terrible to feel so bad and not be able to communicate anything about it.
I believe that Bugsy is in Heaven. There are many who disagree with me, and to them I say, “Why not?” There is no good logical reason, let alone anything in the Bible, that says that animals are not part of the eternal plan. The Lord who knows when a sparrow falls to the earth saw my poor, old, confused, sick little doggy and cared for him enough to bring him back to us so that we could say goodbye. Bugsy fulfilled his purpose on earth, which was to bring a smile to our faces and just love us in the way that only dogs can. I believe that He was welcomed into the arms of Christ the moment that we released him.
Again, why not? The common objection is that animals can’t make a decision to accept salvation. So what? Jesus died for responsible humanity, yes, but also to bring all of creation back into alignment with the original plan. Last time I checked, animals were in Eden. When the world is restored at the end of all things, animals will be there.
We limit God in saying that only humans will enjoy eternal rest and harmony. Where is our imagination? Where is our recognition of the fact that it tears at our hearts when our beloved pets die? No, animals and humans are not the same. But animals are important. Theologians down through the ages, and especially C.S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn, and my hero John Wesley, believed this. Who amongst us will mock these devoted, intellectual giants for having such a view?
Dr. Peter Kreeft has this to say:
Are there animals in Heaven? The simplest answer is: Why not? How irrational is the prejudice that would allow plants (green fields and flowers), but not animals into Heaven.” Regarding pets, he writes: “Would the same animals be in Heaven as on earth? ‘Is my dead cat in Heaven?’ Again, why not? God can raise up the very grass; why not cats? Though the blessed have better things to do than play with pets, the better does not exclude the lesser.
The better does not exclude the lesser. Can we not worship the Creator by enjoying His blessings of animal companionship? I think so.
Bugsy is Heaven now, with Petey, Skippy, Tramp, Bella and Rags, all dogs who have passed through my family. He is there with Dusty, Amy’s horse. He is there with Benson. And you know what? They enjoy the comfort and joy of being in the presence of God Himself.
I miss him terribly. I’ll always miss him, just as I miss the others. All these little holes in my heart draw together to create a insatiable need of God’s healing. I am sick of this place. I long for the day when things are made new and right.
Until then…I’ll just keep on loving these little doggies, and learn the lessons they have for me. To love anyone and everyone, no matter who they are and what they look like. To take the time to play. To enjoy a good snack. To be happy in the simply things.
If that’s not a reminder from Jesus for our lives, then I don’t know what is.
I wish someone had given Jesus a dog
As loyal and loving as mine
To sleep by His manger and gaze in His eyes
And adore Him for being divine.
As our Lord grew to manhood His faithful dog
Would have followed Him all through the day
While He preached to the crowds and made the sick well
And knelt in the garden to pray.
It is sad to remember that Christ went away
To face death alone and apart
With no tender dog following close behind
To comfort its Master’s Heart.
And when Jesus rose on that Easter morn
How happy He would have been
As His dog kissed His hands and barked its delight
For The One who died for all men.
Well, the Lord has a dog now, I just sent Him mine
The old pal so dear to me
And I smile through my tears on this first day alone
Knowing they’re in eternity.
Day after day, the whole day through
Wherever my road inclined
Four feet said, “I am coming with you!”
And trotted along behind. – Rudyard Kipling