I wrote an article about my dog Sally who was ill with hemolytic anaemia as diagnosed by our vet a few days ago, probably caused by cancer of the spleen and liver. Before coming to the decision to have her put to sleep, unsure about the cancer, she got high doses of corticosteroids to fight against the immuno suppression of her red blood cells. It was a last chance to see if she would brighten up and start eating again.
She got worse, and I was going to take her to the vet today to have her put down. I gave her the blessing for sick animals yesterday. She died this morning at 8 am, peacefully and apparently without suffering. We will be burying her this evening in the garden.
Lose two dogs in the space of less than two months… Trop c’est trop.
* * *
I give you this link to reflect on Do Our Pets Go to Heaven? Metaphysics of Animal Souls and The Afterlife. I really do think that many Christians have a problem with this because they want to make access to the afterlife (other than hell) conditioned by full subscription to the teachings of Christianity and the Church. Traditional Church teaching considers only humans as having immortal souls.
Even for humans, the whole notion of our metaphysical existence beyond bodily death is bigger and greater than orthodox Catholicism and Protestantism. Taking the sum of all religious and philosophical traditions, we see that we have problems with metaphysics and tend to materialism, differing only in degree from that of atheists. What a human and a pet dog (or even a pig in a slaughterhouse) have in common is personality. That is something that abides if anything has any meaning for any of us.
We humans are at the top of the food chain, well almost. People get eaten by crocodiles, piranha fish and great white sharks! We are arrogant, and animals are still treated with incredible cruelty. We humans are set apart from other species by our use of language, tools and technology and many things. All the same, like other species, we are a part of nature. We become sick and die like they do. Perhaps, instead of seeing ourselves on top, we might be humbler to consider that we might be somewhere between the “higher” species of mammals and the angels.
Animals not only feed us and work for us. They teach us respect for their lives and happiness. We as a species have raped our planet, and perhaps can find redemption with the help of our dogs, cats, rats or whatever we have decided to go for. If we reconnect with our animals spiritually and recognise this quality in them, perhaps the gulf between our life and heaven might become that little bit smaller.
Another problem is what we eat. As I mentioned elsewhere in a comment, plant life is also life. Killing to eat is a part of our condition. We can only kill them as humanely as possible and avoid eating the “higher” species. We humans, as a species, need to forsake factory farming and return to traditional farming. Perhaps we should only eat meat if we are prepared to kill the animals like pigs and lambs ourselves! Vegetarianism presents other problems, and I am not a vegetarian myself. I know many vegetarians who wear leather shoes!
Another aspect to this reflection is the character of the world of which this world is only a part, like the entire range of all electro-magnetic frequencies and the capacity of a radio to tune in onto only one at a time. The new heaven and the new earth are beyond our imaginations or petty orthodoxies. Even the Holy Scriptures can only speak of them through allegory and analogy.