Saints We Love

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Do Dogs Have Souls?

Requiem - Do Dogs Have Souls

“They” say that dogs don’t have souls. I never know who “they” are, but one thing I know for sure is “they” are wrong. I have never seen a scripture verse for that teaching and, if anyone should be able to give me one, I think today I would tell him he was using a very poor translation.

Our dog, Lucy, went to dog heaven today. Now, don’t say it! “They” also say that animals don’t go to heaven. Not even dog heaven! Well, I know “they” are wrong. And, if anyone was to give me a scripture and verse for that teaching, I would tell him that I knew for certain he was totally wrong and that he had a very poor translation.

Now a little about our dog Lucy . . . she was really a boarder. She was our son’s dog. She came to live with us about seven years ago because Jon, our son, and his wife and daughter, had to move from a house to an apartment and the apartment would not take dogs. They would take cats, but not dogs. Tom, Jon's Father, was with Jon at the time the decision was made for the move and Tom said, “We will take Lucy!” (Our German Shepherd had recently gone to that dog heaven in the sky that “they” say does not exist.)

So, Lucy came home to the house on the golf course and moved in. She brought her bed, her silver bowl, her collar and leashes, and food. She had her apartment in the garage, which was not half bad. She had the backyard, and it was fenced so she felt that she had a residence. She had a covered patio and an uncovered patio. She walked two miles every morning and every evening on a lovely golf course and down by the ocean with her new 'temporary' Master, and seemed happy. We had no cats. She was content to be Queen of the Mountain. She was quite at home in a golf cart and always rode with Tom to pick up and/or return the cart. Because of her walks, she was well known by most of the people who worked at the golf course and by others who walked with their dogs. Most of the neighbors knew her by her first name. She had a very good reputation in the Colony where she lived a very good life.

So, that is pretty much the story of Lucy and her life with us. She slept by our bed when it was storming, as she did not like storms nor the wind, but for the most part she was happy in her own bed. She was a good eater. She was not allowed to beg. She did love our late night snacks and always managed to get a bite or two when Tom was not looking. She went to the office with my husband a lot and they fed her almost anything when Tom was not looking. I think they might say she begged. She loved the office. She rode in the front seat in a Mercedes, top up or top down, with quilted Martha Stewart seat covers for dogs. She actually has a Reed and Barton silver water bowl at the office. She did live very well.

During the 7 years she "boarded" here whenever I took Tom to the airport for a trip, I would always stop at the market on the way home. It was always early morning because somehow Tom managed to be on very early morning flights from California to almost any other place. I would always buy some “junk food” at the market for the week he was gone. I picked up things Tom would never eat (he is a purist!) but things I loved. Good junk food - really good junk food. I would get donuts. Smile. When I came home from the airport Lucy would always meet me in the garage, believing that the man who left with the suitcase would return for her. I would announce that we were all alone but we would have fun. The first thing I would do would be to give her a whole donut. I shall never forget the first time I did that. It was wonderful! She was almost terrified that Tom would pop up from the back seat and catch her. I know that feeling. But, with one donut in her mouth, almost drooling, she headed for the side pedestrian door of the garage, looking back to make certain she was doing the right thing and, after a final glance, she turned and left and went somewhere to gulp down that donut. I came inside and had mine with hot coffee. It became our way of getting even with Tom for leaving us and I must say she did not miss him much the first day after that.

Tom always watched Lucy's weight. He took very good care of her. We most recently had a groomer who actually has a Van and she comes to our home! Imagine that! Lucy had a groomer on wheels! The business is Van Go, of course, and Lucy fell in love with Laurie, the groomer. She would go out, fully trusting Laurie, who would even trim her nails! Such trust. Laurie had warm water and a blow dryer and Lucy loved it. She was a classy dame. She still is classy, in dog heaven, no matter what “they” say.

So what is this about, anyway? Well, I guess it is just good to talk when your dog goes to dog heaven. It just is. Some of you know that feeling.

But today I was thinking what a great person Lucy is. She was still alive at that time.

I just started thinking about the soul thing and wondered why people did not think God would give an animal a soul. I know there are a lot of good reasons for their thoughts but where did they get that idea. Did someone make that up who does not like dogs? They have such personalities, dogs do. So do cats! I don’t think fish have personalities, but dogs and cats??? Ask a dog or cat lover and they will tell you that they have great conversations with their animals. My one good friend says her cat is a “fur person” and I think that might be so. I don’t think they have a spiritual reason for life except for our great pleasure. I mean they are never going to be canonized or anything quite like that but they have a real purpose, don’t they? They are equally as good for young boys as old men! young girls as old women! I remember learning that Adam named all the animals. Can you imagine that? Imagine having a zebra parade by you and thinking, “There is a horse in striped pajamas and I think I will call him a ‘zebra’” Surely God must love animals.

So now we are back to the soul again. If all of us have a soul, and we do, and that is the one thing that makes us different from all other people, and it is, and if the soul we have is the one thing about us that we do not inherit from either our mother or father, why then can’t a good dog, like Lucy, have a soul?

I say that because there never has been another Lucy and there never will be another Lucy. Lucy was one of a kind. Lucy was not genetically Lucy. Lucy was who Lucy became. She was loyal. She was obedient. She loved beyond all reason. She was Lucy, the dog who came to stay for a time and moved into our hearts not our home. She was Lucy - the little dog who fell asleep today with her legs folded and eyes open - as her soul left for dog heaven.


Mary J said...

I loved reading your story Terry! We have always had dogs in my parents family and each one had a different character and its amazing how they become part of your family life, they know how to adapt to each person and show unconditional love! We had a german shepherd Judy who lived for 20 years, she grew up with the kids, used to wait for them to come home from school at the front door. She would get a biscuit for afternoon tea. No stranger could come near the house! We couldn't say the word WALK because she would get all excited. We got a pug called Phoebe a couple of years ago, she was a darling, she taught us to laugh and love as she would run around the house and she knew we were all laughing at her. The day she passed, she sat on my lap and looked deep in my eyes, if eyes could speak a million words! Now we have two more little doggies who give us love and affection and lot of energy as well!

Julienne said...

I love this post! We had an Australian Cattle dog we fondly call Saint Davy because he was an angel and even though he passed away almost 5 years ago at age 13, I still cry whenever I say his name and remember him I loved that dog soooo much I still miss him. It was one of the few times I saw my husband Frank cry after he come home from taking him to the vet to be put down due to a prolonged illness that made it difficult for him to breathe. I hated his suffering and I know he's in a better place but the missing still hurts.

Terry Fenwick said...

Julienne, thanks for sharing your heart with me and others. Do write your story as beloved dog stories are very healing for others.

I sent this out years ago to my mail list and the response was overwhelming! People wrote how they wept and said how much our loss meant to them. GOD gave us dominion over our animals and, often I think, it may have been to show us how to handle grief. It is a powerful thing to make choices to end a dog's life and yet GOD is faced with this decision constantly for the lives of all those he loves.