Do all dogs go to heaven? I must admit, I don’t know.
But the question starts to matter when that dreaded day finally comes. It came for us at the end of last week when our funny-looking, half corgi/half border collie “Doctor” had to be put down.
When we first arrived in Southern California, we needed a new dog and we prayed for the Lord to give us the perfect one. He did. And for years, Doctor offered more love, affection, and protection than we could possibly ask for. He may have been unique in his appearance but he was the smartest, most loyal, loving dog our family ever had and he almost made it to 15 years.
Even though he couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, and suffered from arthritis and dementia, we tried to make that final day the best day of his life. Janet baked a chicken and he managed to relish a couple of bites. I played ball with him as long as he was able.
Together with our new puppy, who is now mourning with us, we took Doctor on his favorite walk, letting him dither and sniff.
Did our entire family cry? Yes.
Do we hope our pets are with us in heaven? Yes.
C.S. Lewis faced this dilemma for the first time when he was 4 years old. When his dog, Jacksie, died, Lewis decided to take on his name – Jack – and it stuck with him for the rest of his life.
In his books, The Problem of Pain and The Great Divorce, Lewis touches upon his belief that pets will join us in our next life. A friend of mine who has taught courses on Lewis wrote me last week saying, “I also have resonated with the teaching of Lewis on how those animals we’ve loved are assumed into our lives in heaven.”
Over the past week, Janet and I have found hope from a few passages of scripture as we’ve mourned the passing of Doctor.
- From the very beginning people and animals have belonged together. Adam was told to name the animals in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1, 2).
- Isaiah prophesied that in the future world the lion would lie down with the lamb and the goat with the leopard (11:6).
- Jesus pointed out that not one sparrow falls outside the care of the Father (Matt. 6:26).
- God not only cares for animals, he includes them in his covenants. God instructed Noah to carefully preserve the animals through the flood. Afterwards, he made a covenant that encompassed “every living thing of all flesh.” (Gen. 6:18-19).
- In Hosea, God made a covenant “with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground” (2:18).
God created the world for us as an act of overflowing love. In every picture he gives of the restoration of his creation he always includes the animals.
So will Doctor, our most loyal dog, be in heaven?
We don’t know. We’re just leaving it in the hands of our heavenly Father. But we do know he gave us this particular dog as a personal answer to our prayers for a wonderful pet. There’s no doubt that Doctor was a gift from God – from his one ear up and one ear down to his long, low body and the slow wag of his tail.
Our Father is a great giver of gifts and we have reason to hope that every good thing he’s given us in this world will show up again in the new creation.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals
About the Author
As the leader of Haven Ministries, Charles Morris is always thinking of ways to lead Christians and non-Christians to Christ—hence the familiar slogan, “Telling the great story … it’s all about Jesus.” Charles is a former secular journalist, who has worked for United Press International, and as a press secretary for two former U.S. senators. He began working in the Christian world after seminary, coming to Haven as the fourth speaker in 2000. He and his wife, Janet, have written several books, including Missing Jesus and Fleeing ISIS, Finding Jesus.
2023 Haven Calendar
God has created Every Living Thing…
Animals and people have always shared a special connection. From the very beginning people and animals have belonged together. Only two verses into the Bible and we see God instructing Adam to name all the animals in the Garden of Eden. Many examples of God restoring his creation, including the animals fill the pages of Scripture.
God created the world for us as an act of overflowing love. As with all of God’s creation, animals have a way of glorifying their Creator. Our Father is the great giver of gifts and I have seen him use our family dog, Clementine, to bring me comfort and friendship. So may we praise our Creator and Savior for the beautiful gifts he has shared with us through his living creatures.
i am sad to see how many people identify themselves so much with their pets instead of their creator. Everlasting life is about God the father, about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is not about marriage or dogs and cats, money or gold ( although the streets are made of gold).
Heaven is about God’s presence and us delighting into it. Do you think you would care a minute for your Doctor if Jesus was (visibly) in your room ? But he is. Jesus is with you. Give to God what is God’s.
Thanks for your response, James. You’re absolutely right that our identity is only in Christ. This article doesn’t disagree with that truth. It only speaks to the deep connection and empathy we can have with other members God’s creation, along with reflecting on a theological question that we don’t have the complete answer to … at least not on this side of eternity.
This might be a clue … every creature!
13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
Thanks for your insight, Mike! If anything, this verse shows that God takes great care to include all of his creation, not just man. That’s an encouraging thought.
I sure would like to see my pets again. I too don’t know. There’s a verse in either Psalms or Proverbs that reads “A righteous man is concerned for his animals but even the kindness of an righteous man is cruel.” And Romans 8 says that the creation itself will be set free from corruption.” I think the new heaven and new earth will not be our present heaven and earth just renewed. The very laws of physics will be different. In this universe we are under the second law of thermodynamics that results in things starting new but grow old and wear out. In one of the letters to the Corinthians says, “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man conceived what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him.” And Peter said that the elements will burn up and dissolve with heat. I am concerned about what will happen to my little boy kitty cat if I am not here. My question is in the rapture will my friend go up with me?
That’s unrighteous man. My phone rewrites my words. Hopefully we won’t need cell phones in heaven.
Thanks for your feedback, Ted. We are admittedly in speculative territory here, but I think it’s good to reflect and search the heart of God when it comes to the beings we know and love in our life today.
Unless a person has experienced unconditional love of an animal, they can never understand why we hope to see our beloveds in Heaven. I have known and loved several dogs in my life and each one that crossed over that “Rainbow Bridge” took a piece of my heart with them. Every new dog added a piece of love back into my life. I cannot imagine Heaven without the frolicking of 4-legged friends who accept us, love us and offer us the truest form of Love. Thank you for sharing this post. I hope to meet Doctor one day.
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