All God’s Creatures, Great and Small

This past weekend my wife Lisa and I had to drop our beloved dog Teddy off at the vet for his trip across the Rainbow Bridge. I’m not sure that we as Christians are supposed to believe in that, but it was a big help to me last Saturday.

Teddy was 13. He was half schnauzer and half poodle. He was full of life, love, and was a great comfort to Lisa during some rough times in her life. I got to be a part of Teddy’s life for the last third, and we formed quite a bond. We were closer than I realized, and Saturday was a lot harder than I expected it to be.

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We knew it was coming. He had a seizure about a year ago, and hasn’t been the same puppy since. We hung on thinking things would get better. We tried medications for him, but nothing seemed to help. Doggy dementia set in.

Teddy was still his same loving self. He’d greet me at the door and wouldn’t stop barking until I gave him a treat, but things that used to be automatic were forgotten, and his little personality changed. He used to lead the canine shenanigans with his friends at doggy day care, but now just slept in the corner.

Teddy was the family protector. He’d leave us lizards he’d captured on our bed. He would warn us of squirrels lurking in the yard. He was suspicious of me when Lisa and I first started dating, and would bark at me anytime Lisa and I hugged. I think he thought I was hurting Lisa. We wound up forging as great a relationship as a man can have with a dog. I grew to genuinely love Teddy and would like to believe he eventually realized he was leaving her in good hands.

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Last Friday night, we celebrated his life. Lisa and I loved on him, spoiled him, cried over him, laughed at him, and prayed over him, thanking God for putting him in our lives. God wants us to be happy. Teddy was a source of great joy to us. We hugged, kissed, and stroked him through waves of laughter and oceans of tears. He gave us each those sloppy doggy kisses as he slept with us one final time.

Saturday was a blur. We dropped him off at the vet, crying all the way. Lisa and I spent a lot of Saturday in tears. The dog who had been so much love and comfort was gone.

This all made me wonder. Do they go to heaven? What happens to dogs when they die? When they can no longer be that source of joy and comfort?

I cracked open my Bible and hopped on Google. Far as I can tell, the Bible doesn’t take a side. God has created all things, great and small. Dogs were part of God’s perfect plan when He created the world. We know that dogs do not have the ability to accept Jesus Christ, but they honor God by being the loving creatures that God put them on Earth to be. God gave us dogs for the very things Teddy was so good at. Teddy did his job.

The Bible does say that Heaven will be a place beyond our wildest dreams. It will be a place of great celebration, a reunion with all who departed before us and a place where everything is provided for our ultimate happiness. My dogs have been part of my happiness.

In my research, I came across this quote from Billy Graham. “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.” If Reverend Graham is believing it, well, that’s good enough for me.

I’m a sunset junkie. God doesn’t paint the same sunset twice. They’re all unique, just as we are. I’ve taken pictures of many sunsets from the same vantage point that Lisa and I had. I’m fascinated by His artistry. As the sun’s last rays shone over our Saturday, I noticed a cloud formation right over the setting sun that would bring us one more moment of joy and comfort.  It was in the shape of a dog chasing a ball. Lisa and I held each other and reflected on what a blessing Teddy was to us. We shared our favorite memories, laughed and cried and laughed and cried some more.

You’re home, Teddy. You’re there.  We love you, and we’ll see you again someday.

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by Doug Prusak, Manager of Production & Programming