The Loss of Pets
Recently, a lady at my church had to have her cat put down because health problems came up that weren’t going to go away. That got me thinking about the pets I’ve had over the course of my life. We’ve had a dog, two rabbits, fish, several gerbils, and birds. Sasha was the family dog. She was one of the most important members of the family, in my eyes at least. My brother and a friend found her as a puppy wandering around East Toledo were we used to live. The friend’s family took her in but after a couple of months, the dad lost his job and Sasha came to live with us. She stayed in our family for about fourteen years until declining health meant it was time to ease her suffering. She had arthritis in her hind leg and a split-level house like mine is no place for a dog with that issue. Nothing but stairs. I don’t remember this part clearly but apparently Sasha’s hips also went. On a medium to large older dog, when the hips go, that’s the first sign that the dog has to be put down to prevent prolonged suffering. I miss Sasha something terrible and it’s been 12 years now.
My sister had two rabbits. One was a mini-lop named Damon. We got him when he was a year old. He developed a neurological disorder when he was five. He wasn’t responding to medication and we had no choice but to put him down on March 22 a couple years ago. That’s a significant date for Sis and I because that’s when our adoption was finalized. I remember crying the day before and the day of. Several months later, Sis got Momo, a black baby rabbit. For reasons we don’t know, she suddenly died not long after. Writing about them is bringing back the pain I felt at both their deaths. It’s hard. I hope everyday that I’ll have many years with my cat, Tifa, before I have to say good-bye. We got a new rabbit, Honey Bunny, just before Christmas and it seems she’s going live a long life.
My boyfriend’s had four dogs in his life. First, there was Spike, a bear of a dog and friendly. He, like Sasha, was put down due to old age. I was just starting to date Eric, my boyfriend, at that time so I didn’t have a close bond with Spike. A week later, Eric’s parents brought home Ace, a black lab pup. He’s hail and healthy. They then got Oscar, a Dachshund puppy, from his grandma, followed shortly by Oscar’s father, Sammy. Last summer, Oscar had a freak accident. He jumped off the arm of a Lazy-Boy and broke his back. If you know Dachshunds, you know that when they turn six months old, they develop degenerative disk disease. Oscar was two years old. Sammy’s still around. I envy Eric because for Spike and Oscar, he arranged to have them cremated and now their ashes are sitting on their mantle. I envy him because, in a way, he got his dogs back. All we have of Sasha is her collar. The rabbits are buried in the backyard.
Just this month, my best friend lost all her animals in one blow. Her kitchen caught fire and all the animals died from smoke inhalation. She had a pit bull, a cat, a ferret, a guinea pig, a rabbit, and a rat or two.I know her pain but not to that scope.
While this whole blog is rather depressing (I started crying at writing about the rabbits), I hold onto one hope and that’s the hope I’ll see my animals again when I get to Heaven. It’s comforting to think that maybe all the pets you’ve had over your lifetime are up there chilling with Jesus and they’re waiting for their humans to join them. The Bible is concerned with man’s salvation and place in this universe. It doesn’t tell us about what awaits our animals when they die. I think that’s a good thing. It allows, at the very least, a sense of peace and closure when a beloved pet passes away to think that they’re chilling with Jesus. I think that while God made humans the pinnacle of His creation and that Heaven is our real home, I think He also meant for animals to enjoy Heaven with us. Everything on this earth was crafted by God for God.
It’s nice to imagine that perhaps Jesus is playing fetch with Sasha, Spike, Oscar, and Bailey, my friend’s pit bull. Or that he’s sitting on his throne, stroking my friend’s cat, Minnow. Maybe even sitting in a green field caring for Damon and Momo. It’s comforting to know that there’s a possibility of us seeing our animals again when this life is over. Even if it turns out that it’s a meaningless hope in the end, we won’t know until we get there. A human soul has to be redeemed but an animal’s spirit, even in a fallen world of animals preying on others, is faultless in the scheme of things. All the bad things of this life are all Man’s doing. The animals were given the tools to survive in this fallen world but they aren’t responsible.
I don’t know how many Christians who know me well share my thoughts on what I think happens to animals when they die but if nothing else, it’s a great comfort. The Bible neither confirms nor denies the possibility that animals go to Heaven like saved people do so we’re free to hope that we’ll see our pets again when our time comes. It’s better then to spending the rest of your life worrying about it. All we can do now, for those of us who lost a pet or will inevitably lose a pet in the future, is keeping moving forward and keep our eyes on the prize: Heaven, and the possibility of seeing our furry/scaly/feathered friends again.