Animals in heaven, too? Hopefully


“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

I heard a great discussion not long ago about different points of view regarding heaven.

Some contemplated a serene, misty existence where things are not quite black and white. Others pictured an endless beach where balmy breezes coupled with the incoming tide endlessly offers a soothing sway that could be described something like being rocked to sleep.

Forever and ever.

Where do animals go? Some picture the great hereafter as incredibly quiet – and therefore, many people say they simply cannot picture animals being there.

When I hear that, my brain goes in to “screeching of the brakes” mode. I simply cannot imagine an existence – any existence – without animals.

When Roger Caras wrote, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole,” he certainly knew what he was talking about.

Chippi Chan. It was perhaps the greatest gift anyone could have ever given me, when, at age 2, my dad decided to add a family dog to our home. It probably was just sheer coincidence that the puppy came to live with us near my birthday in April, and the timing prompted him to say that the adorable little fawn-colored Pekingese would be mine.

Dad had known and admired a Pekingese when he was a youngster growing up, as neighbors had one.

Despite the fact that many people who learn that I admire the breed often say, “Oh, but aren’t they mean?” I have to tell you I personally have never met a mean one yet.

The ones I have known have an almost clown-like personality, vowing to make us smile at their antics.

Chippi Chan was my sidekick from the very start. When my three older sisters headed off to school, I felt less alone because I had my pal Chip.

A pair of black and white photographs in an old photo album tells the story: the first is of my three sisters dressed up for the first day of school; the second photograph shows me on the couch, still in my cozy pajamas (with the feet sewn in) one September morning, with Chip sitting up close beside me, my arm thrown around that dog as though we were friends to the end.

The mighty dog. That dog never looked in a mirror, because she thought she was as big and as mighty as any bull or heifer on the farm.

She would trounce through the fields, working hard to keep up with the English Shepherd who was a great groundhog hunter. She could chase rabbits from their hiding spots, though I’m not sure what she would have ever done if she’d actually caught one.

She always came running back to me with a look of glee on her funny little face, as if to say, “Did you see what I just did?”

She rode in the little basket perched on the handlebars of my bicycle, sniffing at the wind as we sailed along as fast as my legs could propel us.

Spanky and Cort. My son now has an all-white Pekingese sidekick of his own.

Spanky is made of that same great mold – filled with personality and joy and looking for all the world as though he has something big to tell you.

I ran across a picture just the other day of Spanky and Cort in which they both looked like young pups – still carrying that rounded, baby-faced look. It was taken in 1997 when they both were just young pups.

It made me wish, for the millionth time, that we could turn back time. Both were happy, neither had yet been afflicted with arthritis, both looked filled with the joy and enthusiasm that only young pups can carry off so well.

George G. Vest once wrote, “The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. …

“He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. …

“When all other friends desert, he remains.”

That sounds like a piece of heaven to me!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.