When one of our beloved animals has left this earth, we pray that we will be reunited with him and together once again. A few years ago on one of the lists I wrote a short article questioning whether or not an animal could have a soul. Then this year I wrote a blog titled “If there’s no animals in heaven, then I’m not going!” So here’s an excerpt from my original article for those who didn’t belong to that particular list at the time. Then I want to add some new information about this subject.
It is said that if an animal has a soul, than it must be a sin to kill an animal. The Bible says "he that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man" - Isiah 66:3. Throughout the animal kingdom, time and time again they illustrate to us they must have a soul because of the way they take care of their own. Dogs have been known to howl at the precise moment that a loved one has died. Some have been found lying on their dead master’s grave. Elephants try to lift their dying or dead. Cow and calf elephants have been known to refuse to leave their herd matriarch when she is shot, even as the poachers slaughter them one by one. Dolphins take turns helping an ill pod member to the surface to breathe. Some people will say this is only instinct. (Instinct - behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level). (Soul - the quality that arouses emotion and sentiment). For those of us who are loved by our dogs, we know they must have a soul when they look at us soulfully when we are sad, or forget about trying to turn away from a dog when you're crying. They’re all over you, sometimes crying with you trying to lick away each tear that falls. They instantly forgive us when we are cranky and have taught us the meaning of unconditional love. Our animals are a gift the Creator left in our care as a testament to what real love is all about. When we open up our hearts to our animals, we realize they were put here not only to be our companions and best friends, not to walk 15 feet behind us, but along side us and many times deservingly 20 feet in front of us. I don't know about you, but I must believe there is a Heaven, because I want to run in the open fields once again with all my beloved dogs running to me so I can wrap my arms around them, because it always was the animals that taught me about love, forgiveness and acceptance. They love us no matter what we say or do, they forgive us when we are being less than patient with them, and they accept us, fat, skinny, rich or poor. Gee, they sure could show mankind or thing or two about love.
Now I share with you my new thoughts and information about this subject. Ask a theologian about this subject and he’ll say no that animals do not have a soul. Ask a person who has just lost a beloved pet the same question and his answer MUST be yes. How else will he relieve some of the heartfelt pain that he is experiencing if he doesn’t believe that he will be reunited with his pet in the here after? The theologian will point out the man was created superior to the animal and therefore, the animal can’t be equal to him. Try telling this to a child who has lost his best buddy. So as it is with many of us adults, we have the NEED to feel that we will once again see our dogs that have crossed over the “Rainbow Bridge.” It is this hope, this desire to be reunited with the deceased animal that keeps us going on and to reassure ourselves that all will be well once again when we are with our pets.
I love these two little sentences that I read on the web and I quote: “If they (animals) do have a "soul" that survives death, it is different from mans. It does not need redemption.” Wow……it does not need redemption! I think that’s so powerful! Our animals are incapable of sin. Man is the only one who needs redemption! So therefore, animals would go to heaven. He would be incapable of going to hell!
Here’s a cute little story that I read: There was an elderly widow whose beloved little dog died after fifteen faithful years. Distraught, she went to her pastor. "Parson," she said, tears streaming down her cheeks, "the vicar said animals have no souls. My darling little dog Fluffy has died. Does that mean I won’t see her again in heaven?" "Madam," said the old priest, "God, in his great love and wisdom has created heaven to be a place of perfect happiness. I am sure that if you need your little dog to complete your happiness, you will find her there."
I don’t believe that animals do things strictly out of instinct. If a mother dogs loses her litter of puppies, she may cry and whine for days and go off of her food. How about the many animal stories you read where a cat or dog will go back into a burning house to rescue her babies? Animals are petrified of fire. So it couldn’t be instinct driving her to them. I read a wonderful story once of a dog that was very fearful of water and would never go in it. This very same dog jumped into the water to save his young owners life! How about the stories of a dog that if lost in the wilderness with his owner will lie on the human to keep him warm? What about when your dog knows that you are sick and can smell the sickness in your body? He will sometimes cry with you when you’re crying. He will lie next to you quietly when you’re not feeling well. He has learned to read your body language and can understand us on a different level than most men can. These animals do these things because they have emotions and feel things like you and me do. So in this writer’s opinion our animals definitely know how to love.
If you ever looked in to the eyes or a dog that is in a shelter, you will see the sadness that resides there. If you look at the eyes of a dog that is sickly or that is dying, you will see the “windows of this animal’s soul.” The eyes that stare back at you are not eyes of emptiness; they are eyes that express some level of emotion.
The dog’s need for affection, his need for our touch is not something he does out of instinct. He enjoys the feelings that he gets from these things. It’s something he desires and wants. This is not instinct that tells him to look for this. This is what makes him feel good. Look at how happy they are to see us when we come in the house. This is true even if you went out to the mailbox to get your mail. The dog loves us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is constant whether you want it or not. I heard on television just last night that the dog doesn’t know how to hate. He might fear, but I don’t know that he hates. What do you think?
So whether or not our dogs or pets have souls will be something people will question and write about for years. There’s no hard evidence to prove they do or they don’t. But as long as man loves his animals, and makes him a part of his family, the NEED to believe that his dog has a place in heaven is always strong. To have these marvelous animals in our lives for only 10 – 15 years is incomprehensible to some of us. We want more of these wonderful gifts. Therefore, we MUST believe that we will see them again. It’s the only way that we can get through the lost of our loving companions. Man will believe what ever it is that will make him feel good. We convince ourselves that we will be with our animals once again. It’s the only way that some of us can get through the heartache. And believing that our animals have souls and will be afforded a “little piece of God’s acre” with us in Heaven makes man’s soul feel good. We just can’t imagine a place in heaven without our beloved animals! But what happens if the animal goes to heaven and we never make it there???? Oh my!
Gary Kowalski has written a wonderful book about this subject called "The Souls of Animals." He seems to get into the emotions of the animals by not treating his subject matter as living, breathing "emotionless" creatures. It's an easy, uncomplicated read. In my opinion, it's excellent reading for all animal lovers!
My rating: the book, "The souls of Animals" (4)