Interesting question, and one I’m sure many pet owners ask after losing a beloved pet.
I hear people say they will see their passed away pets in heaven. Poets write about reuniting with pets in heaven. Are those just “comforting” thoughts or might there be something to it?
Raises issues about the afterlife, heaven, and the nature of life.
I certainly believe there is a heaven… and I believe I will go there when I die. Although my feeble mind cannot conceive what it will be like there, I do believe it will be perfect in God’s will.
Will my dogs, Trixie, Trooper, Scruffy and other pets be there? What about other animals? Will heaven be filled with animals?
I cannot answer the question unequivocally whether dogs go to heaven or not. However, I also cannot imagine heaven being absent of all animals. These creatures were created by God who declared them good. Why wouldn’t He populate this perfect place with ALL the good things He created to bring love and joy to His created mankind?
I cannot “prove” that dogs go to heaven or not any more than I can provide proof God exists. However, based on my observation and understanding I can logically deduct certain things about His creation. What more do we have besides observation and understanding?
Proof? I’m afraid we will have to wait for that.
Perhaps we can look to the wisdom of Solomon who put it best…
Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and the spirit of the animal descends into the earth?- Ecclesiastes 3:21
I certainly don’t know, you don’t know, nobody knows.
I think Solomon makes a good point though…
For the fates of both men and beasts are the same: As one dies, so dies the other—they all have the same breath. Man has no advantage over the animals, since everything is futile. All go to one place; all come from dust, and all return to dust.- Ecclesiastes 3:19-20
A bit sobering reality… man and beast share the same fate.
Solomon says that men and beasts have the same breath (Hebrew: ruach, sometimes translated spirit as in Gen. 1:2, “the spirit of God”).
What breath? The breath of life.
The writer of Genesis uses a different Hebrew word for “breath” – neshamah and “of life” – chayyim.
Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. – Genesis 2:7
It was the God given breath of life that resulted in a living being. These alternate words seem to indicate the action of God giving life to His creation.
What about all the other animal world comprised of living beings, do they also have the breath of life?
And God said, “Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the sky.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters teemed according to their kinds, and every bird of flight after its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters of the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. – Genesis 1:20-23
God created all those fish and birds, including the pet goldfish and parakeets. He saw them as good and blessed them.
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, land crawlers, and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that crawls upon the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.- Genesis 1:24-25
Scripture doesn’t say specifically that other creatures have the breath of life, but it seems logical that if God were to create all creatures and cause them all to live, it might be that same breath of life for all.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth.”- Genesis 1:26-28
So, there you have it… the creation. God saw that it was all good.
There is a distinction made between man and animal…
“God created man in His own image,” and gave man dominion (Hebrew: radah also translated rule, dominate) over the animal world. Animals do not have the distinction of being created in God’s image and are placed below man in God’s hierarchy.
Being of a higher intellect, man is to care for, nurture, be a good steward of, have dominion over lower animals. Man has the ability to create, reason and possess skills animals do not.
You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. – Psalm 8:5-8
Later, when God decided to destroy His creation with a flood, what did He preserve? He preserved both man and animal. Both are important in His plan.
Pairs of all creatures that have the breath [rū·aḥ] of life [ḥay·yîm] in them came to Noah and entered the ark. – Genesis 7:15
Doesn’t it seem reasonable that if God deemed both man and animal “good” in His creation, He gave them both the breath of life, and He preserved both on Noah’s ark, He might also populate heaven with all His goodness?
Job 12:10 tells us, “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” God is in control and He gives life to every creature, animals and humans alike. Yes, humans may be a higher creature than other creatures, but God created them all and gives them all the breath of life.
In the meantime I’ll rest on faith… faith that God does exist and that He has given us a glimpse into His purpose in the pages of scripture. I’m confident that God does what is good, in fact, perfect. So, whatever the after-life looks like, I’ll be happy.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”