As a dog owner, the most devastating experience anyone could ever witness is to see their beloved pet lose the sparkle in his eyes and the strength that used to fill his body. Just like how it is with humans, death is a normal process for dogs, especially if they’re reaching the limit of their lives. However, no matter how ordinary this is for everyone, accepting that your dog is gone is not easy to deal with.
If you just lost your dearest companion, you might be thinking if dogs ever go to heaven. I’d like to think that, yes they do, but it’s fair to admit as well that the answer to this inquiry is varied. Some would agree, while others won’t.
The best thing to do is to inspect some of the major belief systems in the world and determine which among them is reasonable.
Does a Dog Have a Soul?
Different perspectives would say that dogs don’t have a soul, but it seems that the debate has not concluded until now. Most owners like to believe that dogs do have souls since the idea comforts them. They prefer to think that once their pets die, they will automatically go to a certain place where their owners will eventually arrive once their time comes too.
Meanwhile, atheist dog lovers generally don’t think much about this. They do not believe in the afterlife nor do they use terms such as “spirit” or “soul”. With that, it is fair to assume that they don’t bother themselves much about what happens to their dear doggy when he passes away.
This does not mean, however, that atheists don’t grieve or mourn for the loss of their dogs. Everybody who owns a four-legged companion and has bonded with them meaningfully would, no doubt, feel sad about the absence. Who wouldn’t be heartbroken when the gentle barks and playful little bodies we were used to seeing and hearing are no longer there?
4 Perspectives on Whether Dogs Go To Heaven or Not
Learning that the afterlife is a subjective view for many of us, it is best if we tackle four of the influential religions in the world which have something to say about animal death. This will let you have a wider view which might eventually lead you to the answer on whether dogs go to heaven or not. Here they are:
One of the world’s brilliant thinkers and writers named C.S. Lewis has addressed this issue in his book, “The Problem of Pain”. He acknowledged the fact that the Bible did not expound more on this subject, but the small details provided could somehow give us a glimpse of whether dogs do have souls or not.
Lewis explained first that dogs might go to heaven once they die. This is because the Bible nor any Christian documents did not say that the dogs could go to heaven nor was it stated that they couldn’t. That means the whole idea of dogs going to heaven is something God has not revealed to Christians.
He also presented a theory regarding the “soul”. Although Lewis believes that no animals could partake in the Kingdom of Heaven because they have no self, domesticated animals might be able to attain a kind of selfhood through their masters. This is because when animals become under the dominion of a human companion, they are fulfilling the natural order of things.
In simpler terms, domesticated animals such as your dog might get to heaven and become immortal not in themselves but the immortality of their owners. Despite these thoughts of the British writer Lewis, he still is aware that the Bible remains silent about where dogs go after death. Since the Christian book doesn’t say much about it, Christian dog lovers could only hope for the best for their deceased and late beloved dogs.
Buddhists do not believe in the conventional heaven, but they do believe that a soul will enter several heavens before finally reaching nirvana where there is no sense of self, desire, nor suffering.
Generally, Buddhists strongly have the idea that animals do have souls just like humans. Particularly, if your dog dies, the Buddhist view declares that your deceased pet will reincarnate into another living being. There is a possibility that he will turn into a new human being or any other animal you could think of.
In Bangkok, Thailand, pet funerals are a booming business. Most if not all are incorporated with Buddhism to give a proper funeral service to anyone’s pet such as a dog. Reportedly, a dog named Fou Fou, who was a Pomeranian died by accident. The owner called Manthin was inconsolable and decided that she should give her dog a funeral worthy of her child.
Several monks did the pet funeral rites, a coffin filled with fake gold, and what seemingly appeared as “tickets to the next life”. Fou Fou was then cremated and the owner hoped that the dog would be coming back to this world in a much higher form such as becoming one of her children.
According to Islamic teachings, all beings have souls and they will live eternally. However, they also added that for anyone including dogs to go to heaven, they must appear before God first on judgment day. That leads us to the next idea that when a pet dies, he does not get to heaven immediately but rather waits until the final day of judgment.
Different Muslim scholars have not absolutely agreed on a theory regarding how dogs are judged. Some would say that dogs would be judged differently compared to humans. Some also speculate that humans who enter heaven could choose whether they would bring their pet with them or not.
Firmly, Mormons believe that dogs go to heaven. This is a huge comfort for anyone no matter if you are Mormon or not. Additionally, dogs would be able to communicate with their masters which is an exciting idea. Who wouldn’t want to know how our pet thinks, right?
Do Dogs Know That They Are Dying?
There is no exact answer to this. Gregory Berns, the author of the book, “What It’s Like to Be a Dog” has cautioned dog owners not to put human interpretations onto a dog. This is because every dog is as unique as every human individual. Meaning, there is no general understanding when it comes to knowing what your pet really thinks.
Additionally, behavior experts such as Haylee Bergeland, agree that currently, it is still a great challenge to determine how much a dog knows or feels when he’s dying. Behaviors, however, could make things clearer for us. Some dogs who are near their deaths become clingy and would seek more affection while some would choose to isolate themselves than they normally would.
She also observed that other canines would still have the desire to jump and play around to generally release their energy but would end up realizing that they couldn’t do the same thing in their state. Learning dog behavior toward death continues to be mind-boggling. Hence why there is a collaborative effort that’s going on wherein scientists and the general public work together to find out how dogs know that they’re dying.
Common Things Dogs Do When They Are Dying
When owners are aware that their dogs will not make it last longer, it is imperative to create an environment free from stress but full of love and warmth to ensure that the canine leaves the world happy.
Seeing your dog suffer or exhibit signs of nearing death can give off an unpleasant feeling, but checking on the signals is worth the attention:
- His learned behaviors no longer show
- His social interaction is low
- He Has little to no interest to play
- The dog no longer has the motivation to do his normal activities
- His sleep and wake patterns change
- Low appetite for food
- Remains to lay in one position or place for long periods of time
- Restless at night
- He shows signs of pain or discomfort
If we are to believe that dogs don’t have a grasp on what death is, it could be that the extreme physical changes he’s experiencing would cause him more stress and anxiety. Any dog owner should commit to reverse how they feel as much as they can by providing the dog support and solace.
What to Do If My Dog Is Dying
Having a serious conversation with your veterinarian regarding the best step to take for your dying dear dog is essential. The veterinarian will have to determine the dog’s current state and see if the canine would be able to survive the pain or if his level of discomfort is too much to bear already.
There is what we call the HHHHHMM Scale which can be found in the Merck Vet Manual. This will help you and the vet decide well when it is best to finally let your dog rest:
Hurt: Can the dog’s pain be controlled?
Hunger: Does your dog still have the appetite to eat?
Hydration: Is your dog well hydrated?
Hygiene: Can your dog control his personal needs such as his waste output?
Happiness: Is your dog still mentally stimulated or happy?
Mobility: Can your dog move anywhere on its own without any help?
More good days than bad: Is your dog turned off to live anymore because he experiences more bad days than good ones?
Although it is hard, letting go when necessary is needed. This is because any dog owner wouldn’t want to subject his pet to a painful experience that is getting difficult to bear for the canine. It is the responsibility of the family or the dog owner to consider euthanasia if the doggy no longer feels comfortable.
As much as anyone would want to provide a good quality of life to their pets, doing the right thing by euthanizing is acceptable. This is simply cutting off the length of the pooch’s suffering.
Will I Ever See My Dog Again?
Depending on what belief you base this question to, you might or might not see your dog again in the afterlife. However, as much as we have hope in all things, it is comforting to yearn as well that we might indeed be welcomed by our deceased pets once our time comes.
Every memory and snapshot you have with your late dog would make you instantly reminisce about the things you used to do together, the exact places at home the dog used to be, and the event that transpired during that time. It is a bittersweet thought that a simple four-legged puppy you raised has brought so much joy and change to your life but at the same time couldn’t stay with you forever.
Cherishing every single moment with your dog right now can avoid the creeping regret which might disturb you in your sleep. As much as you can, treat your dog well before it’s too late!