I wrote this for Kyrie, Bella, Grey and Lily the night before Dusty lost her fight. I haven’t changed a word since I wrote it…now that I look back, I see that I was trying to tell myself something too…
For Kyrie, Bella, Grey and Lily…
Every day I write on this blog about Dusty and her struggles. Every day the numbers count up, as numbers should. One more day under her belt, one more story to add to the narrative of her little life.
But what if the days were counting down? How would I feel? What if every “what if” in my life was a “when” instead? What if Dusty gets pneumonia tomorrow? What if Dusty never gets to go to the Omorrow Reunion? What if I have to say goodbye? What if all these what ifs disapperaed and became whens?
I guess if that happened, I would be asking myself the question: “Do all dogs go to Heaven?”
I’ve been told before that dogs don’t have souls. That no, they don’t go to Heaven. I used to just laugh and brush it off, but recently, I’ve begun to seriously contemplate the question, and what I think the answer.
Once upon a time, there was a boy. He gave up everything he loved and owned in pursuit of the ultimate Truth. He wandered far and wide, for years. One day, in a field in San Damiano, Christ spoke to him and said, “Go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down.”
And the boy, turned man overnight, he went. And he preached the Good News, to all of God’s creatures. All of them.
Then he came upon a town called Gubbio which was plagued by a ferocious wolf. The wolf came upon the villagers and their livestock, night after night.
But the man who preached to all God’s creatures, was unafraid. He followed the wolf to its den when all others had fled. And at the entrance to the wolf’s lair, he made the sign of the cross. The wolf, who knew the Lord, came and laid at the man’s feet.
“Why do you harm the villagers, my brother?” the man asked of the wolf, who whined and buried his head in his paws.
“I am only hungry brother, and their sheep are so fat and smell so good. When I try to pluck one from the flock, they come at me with ill will. I am afraid for my life, and I snap. I don’t want to hurt them, but I am hungry.”
The man put a hand in the thick black fur of the beast who was his brother and silenced his fear with the love of the Lord, “What if I could bring peace between you and the villagers?”
The man smiled and pet the wolf from his head to his tail, “God has heard my brother. He will protect you.”
From that day on, each day, the wolf would come out of his den and down the mountain, and the villagers would pet his shiny coat and feed him. He would bark and lick the children. Then, when the sun set, he would run back to his mountain to keep watch.
From his high perch, he would look down upon the villagers, his new family, and think, “I was born, and this is who I am. I see the darkness in your hearts, brothers and sister, but I will keep watch.”
Saint Francis of Assisi made peace between the villagers and the wolf that day. God had answered both their prayers.
The way I see it, God doesn’t answer the prayers of the soul-less. So whether the numbers are counting up or down, when the rainbow bridge is on the horizon, let us all remember St. Francis of Assisi, who also said, on his deathbed, “Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death.” And be sure that it’s true – all dogs do go to Heaven.
Yesterday was St. Francis of Assisi’s Feast Day where people all over the world bless their pets. I actually didn’t know that until the day before when I went to check my facts for this story. If God isn’t trying to tell me something, then He must not speak.