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The Blessing of Pets

More blogs »Posted on Sep 15 2015

On October 4 we will have a blessing of animals on the front yard of the Brewster Council of Aging Sunday October 4 at 4:00 PM. Anyone, everyone is welcome. Please bring your pets and a way not to lose them, like a leash or a pet carrier. We’ll have light refreshments, a liturgy of blessing, and a lot of fun. If you’d like a special prayer for your pet, just ask me there.

I’m really happy to have this because I love pets myself. My canine friend Dudley is one of my very best friends. I’ve loved Corgis, Dudley’s breed, since my daughter chose one and Biscuit came into our lives. Biscuit was an exceptional dog, and I loved her dearly, so it was a terrible tragedy when we lost her to cancer. What was worse was my role in deciding to euthanize her. I know it was the right thing to do, she was suffering and would soon starve, but the decision haunts me still.

Two things were helpful. The first was a couple of days after Biscuit’s death my daughter came to me and related she had a dream, or a vision, she wasn’t clear which. In it we were at the veterinarian’s office, we lost Biscuit, we all cried and then we left. Biscuit lay there, someone turned out the light, a little time passed, and then there was a light from heaven and Biscuit got up and walked into the light. I have tears in my eyes as I type this. It helped all of us.

The second was when I went to work, which at that time was aboard the USS Enterprise where I was a chaplain. My colleague Father Dan Fullerton asked me how I was doing, understanding what had happened and being a dog lover himself. I told him about my daughter’s experience, and asked if dogs went to heaven. I mean, really, theologically, what does the Bible say? Dan, a Navy chaplain and a Roman Catholic priest told me he thought they did, and then he offered Ecclesiastes 3: 17 – 22 (NKJV). I said in my heart, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” I said in my heart, “Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.” For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth? So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

Now, I’m not going to get into deep theology, or go to other verses, but that word for ‘breath’ is the same Hebrew word for ‘spirit’, and it’s significant. I don’t even mean to convince anyone, I’m just beginning to tell you that, yes, I think at least some animals go to heaven. So, I think we need to be humble in our treatment of them, like it’s a responsibility given to us by God to take care of them. I think how we treat them says a lot about the nature of our own spirit, and that matters. Very much.

My life is richer because of my time with Biscuit, my ongoing time with Dudley, and with others going back to Rusty the mutant Dachshund (he looked exactly like a Dachshund, but he was Beagle-sized, suggesting he was a mixed breed involving a Dachshund and a bigger dog). For that reason, I’m delighted that we’re having this blessing of animals, and I will happily pray over each animal and their caregiver that they will have a happy and long life together.

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