Do Animals Go to Heaven?

Brianna brought home a thick collection of children’s poetry last month. Apparently they’d run out of books in the classroom, so the teacher brought in one of her own from home.

I couldn’t resist browsing through, and I came across a nice poem about the dilemma a child is posed with when their beloved pet dies. Although not the obvious choice for a children’s book due to its rather sad and philosophical subject, it is a beautiful poem which I thought was worth sharing. Here it is:

          Burying the Dog in the Garden

                                                 by Brian Patten

          When we buried

          the dog in

          the garden on

          the grave we put

          a cross and

          the tall man

          next door was

          cross.

          ‘Animals have no

          souls,’ he said.

          ‘They must have animal

          souls,’ we said. ‘No,’

          he said and

          shook his head.

          ‘Do you need a

          soul to go

          to Heaven?’ we

          asked. He nodded

          his head. ‘Yes,’

          he said.

          ‘That means my

          hamster’s not

          in Heaven,’ said

          Kevin. ‘Nor is

          my dog,’ I said.

          ‘My cat could sneak

          in anywhere,’ said

          Clare. And we thought

          what a strange place Heaven

          must be with

          nothing to stroke

          for eternity.

          We were all

          seven.

          We decided we

          did not want to

          go to Heaven.

          For that the

          tall man next

          door is to blame.

This poem brought tears to my eyes and stirred the inevitable discussion of what’s going to happen when George dies. A subject that I’m not very comfortable with and prefer not to think about just yet. At the end of our little talk, Brianna decided that she believes animals have souls and although she’ll be sad when the day comes for George to go, she understands that this is the cycle of life and knows he’ll be up there watching over her. What a wise child. I just blocked out the thought and took George for a walk.

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21 Comments

Filed under Whilst walking the dog

21 responses to “Do Animals Go to Heaven?

  1. lifewith4cats

    Excellent post. I too was taught the notion that animals dont have souls and therefore cant go to heaven. I dont buy it either. Narrow minded thinking like that is just… narrow.

  2. Brianna sounds wise beyond her years. The beauty of how optimistic and postive kids are blows my mind.

    • Thank you, I’ve been around kids all my adult life, but am still utterly amazed by some of the things they come up with and their ability to deal with ‘uncomfortable’ issues. It may be because they don’t overcomplicate things and see them how they are. Brianna has always been one of those ‘mature’ kids, probably because she’s an only child and has always been surrounded by adults and has been involved in our conversations. She also enjoys a bit of thinking time by herself once in a while, so I guess that’s how she works things out.

  3. Good for Brianna! Sounds like she can handle herself quite well. I turn to mush thinking of such things. I can’t watch a movie with a sad dog scene without having the tears flow. I agree that our animal family members will always be a part of us. Thanks for posting a subject that we don’t like to think about but helpful to do so in the right framework.

    • Thanks, Robin. I am the same, sad movies always make me cry, especially if they involve kids and animals. Brianna cries, too, but as she’s growing up she’s learning that these things happen and we have to deal with them. She seems to have worked the theory out quite well already, I hope we won’t have to ‘test’ it for a very long time. I also believe that certain subjects are worth bringing up sometimes even if we don’t like to think about them. It’s like therapy …

  4. Someone once said “If dogs don’t go to heaven then I want to go where they go”. Amen to that:) What a level headed girl Brianna is.

  5. Sam

    Animals have souls – I believe this firmly. James Herriot wrote “”If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”

    Sam

    • That’s a beautiful saying, and so true. If all humans were like animals when it comes to feelings, loyalty, kindness and forgiveness, the world would be a better place. Thanks for the comment.

  6. I can’t remember which philosopher said that the noble, affectionate and loyal nature of dogs guaranteed them a place in the afterlife.

  7. That is a lovely poem. It took a difficult subject (for children especially) and made it a thoughtful and quirky discussion. I’m not religious myself but if there is an afterlife, I’m guessing other animals would have as much a chance of getting there as the human animal.

    Your daughter sounds more and more clever by the post!

    • Thank you, I thought you’d like it. ‘The human animal’, I love that. You’re right, I can’t see why the other animals would not have a place in the afterlife. Actually, if we think about their loving, honest and loyal nature, as balladeer said, dogs are probably more qualified to go to Heaven than a lot of humans.
      Thank you for the nice compliment about my little girl. She’s a good kid. 🙂

  8. Good on you Brianna!
    Try looking up/googling references to the Rainbow Bridge- it’s a sort of legend/grown ups fairy tail to help us older ‘children’ come to terms with the thought of losing our special friends.
    If you cannot find it let me know and I will send you a copy.
    I too only want to go where my dogs go, no ther place will do.

    • Thank you so much for the suggestion and for offering to send it to us, much appreciated. It’s a great idea, I’ll get Brianna to google it herself when we get back home. I am convinced she’ll love it.

  9. not many words I would say … But I like this post nice share.. .. Hi .. bro ..

  10. Nice poem Didi. You have a very blessed family. Enjoy the time that you have together as your great posts indicate. Your kindness and devotion is not lost on George. It gives him the freedom to be himself knowing that his physical and emotional needs are met. This means that he lives for you as much as you live for him and trust me, that will be a long time. As far as animals not having souls, that’s just nonsense. Besides, you have proven that you, your family, and George are true soulmates.

    • That is such a beautiful comment, Lionel, I really appreciate it. We are just a normal family like so many others, but I do feel blessed for what I have. And that includes our little whippet. You’re right about George and us being soulmates, that’s exactly how we feel. And I know that he’ll be with us forever. I once heard a moving story about a man and his cat. They were so close that the old man was devastated when the cat died. But then he started to feel better and happier, and couldn’t understand why. One day, he met a psychic who asked him if he ever had a cat and went on to describe it in detail. Then she told the man that she could see the cat sitting on his shoulder. Its spirit had come back to look after him and keep him company. I really loved this story, and it doesn’t matter if its true or not. I’d like to think that this is what happens to all of our beloved pets.

  11. I’ve seen some great things to help kids deal with a pet’s death, and musings on the subject. One of my favorite books ever is “Dog Heaven” which is just lovely, even though it will make you cry!

    • Thank you, Carrie. I’ve got a list of your book recommendations in my diary, and I’ll add this one to it when I get back home. That book sounds like the perfect choice not only for Brianna, but also for me. I can’t wait to catch up with your girls’ adventures on your blog.

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