Daddy, Do Dogs go to Heaven?

   "Daddy, do dogs go to Heaven?"

   "Yes, son, dogs do go to Heaven."

   Without even thinking, I assured my son (and myself) that we would see Chassa again in Heaven.  I know that Chassa is in Heaven right now.

   It seemed silly for me to feel such a great loss when our dog, Chassa, got run over.  She was just a dog.  She knocked over the trash can.  She used the bathroom on our carpet.  She dug into our plants.  She tore up magazines.  In the summer, she had fleas.  And, boy, did she shed.

   She was just a dog.  And yet, the loss I felt when Chassa died was so great, I was numb.  It was if I had lost my closest friend.  When I thought about Chassa's life, I realized I had lost a very dear companion.

Chassa’s death was really quite merciful.  Her first eight months were in the country where she roamed free.   When we moved into town, we had to keep her chained.  She did not understand the danger posed by cars.  She did know how to run.  And, boy, did she run happy.  Round and round.  She’d turn on a dime at full speed.  She was happy when she ran.

Chassa was almost out of the habit of just taking off and running full blast straight ahead.  Almost.  She loved to go bye-bye, and my wife took her bye-bye to the grocery store that last day.  When they got home, Chassa jumped out of the car and took off.  Right into the street.  Right in front of a car.

I was inside with our nine-month-old daughter.  I heard my wife yell at Chassa to come back.  I knew that Chassa had run off again.  Then I heard my wife scream.  I wondered if Chassa would be given a second chance.

Even though the car’s tire had run right over her, Chassa managed to find the strength to run back to our yard and fell right at my wife’s feet.  By the time I got outside, my wife was running to the car with Chassa in her arms.

“I’m taking Chassa to the vet,” she screamed.

“Let me take her,” I said.  “Go inside and watch Susanna.”

I was surprised by the limpness of Chassa as I took her from my wife.  It made my heart pound a hundred miles an hour.  I hugged Chassa as I rushed to the pickup.  I saw in her eyes that she now understood the danger of the street and cars.  I threw my briefcase in the floorboard and laid Chassa down.  Then I saw and heard her last breath.  Another look into her eyes and I knew Chassa was dead.  No, no second chance.  It was only about thirty seconds from the time the car hit her.  I’m sure Chassa didn’t feel any pain.  She was in shock.  I thank God, it was quite merciful.

Why should my wife and I feel such a great loss with the death of our dog?  And do dogs go to Heaven?  Most preachers say that animals have no spirit and therefore do not see Heaven or Hell.  I disagree.  That night, after my wife had gone to bed, I couldn’t stop crying.  I was actually crying over the death of a dog.  And I was hurting.  The pain was so tremendous.  I wanted Chassa back.

The one thing I have learned in my life is that when I am totally helpless, it’s time to turn to God.  That’s what I did.  I got my Bible and my Daily Bible Guide, and asked God to please, please help me through this.  The Bible Guide had Psalm 102 in the day’s reading.  When I got to verses 19 and 20, I knew Chassa was in Heaven.  “…from Heaven did the Lord behold the earth:…to lose those that are appointed to death.”  Yes, Chassa was free in Heaven, and running around all she wanted.  God and His angels were playing with Chassa with little squeaky toys.  Chassa loved to run after squeaky toys.

And I knew that Chassa’s death, though tragic and painful for me, was a giant step in my life toward God’s plan for me.  I thanked God for helping me.  I promised Chassa that her life on this earth, though brief, had done God’s will.  As I sat there staring at my Bible Guide and Bible, in a wondrous awe of God’s love and understanding and kindness, I noticed the Bible reading for that day was Psalm 105, not 102.

God works in mysterious ways.  And God does work miracles.  And God does do things like put a dog in one’s life for a purpose.

My wife brought Chassa home from the dog pound one afternoon.  There were other puppies a lot cuter, but she said she looked in Chassa’s eyes and knew that was our puppy.  We trained Chassa to some extent…to set, shake, lie down and roll over.  Chassa never did roll over all the way, just over on her back.  And for some reason, Chassa brought my wife and me closer together.  Six months after we got Chassa, we moved into town.  We were extra careful to take care of Chassa in her new “city” life.  Ten months later my wife was pregnant.  Six months later, my wife developed severe Pre-eclampsia…for some unknown reason her body was rejecting the pregnancy.  

The doctor said that for my wife or baby to live, he had to take the baby.  It was not a question of which one to save, it was only the hope of saving either one of them.  My daughter weighed one pound, 12.5 ounces at birth.  She had a 10 percent chance of surviving.  If everything went right, she would be home in three months.  Our preacher performed an emergency baptism before she was one day old, just in case.  Within a week, my wife was out of the hospital.  In another thirty-six hours, my wife was back in the hospital, this time with a blood clot.  It took another week to dissolve the blood clot, and my wife was out of the hospital again.

At first, we couldn’t count the days of our daughter’s life, we counted hours…12…24…36…48…60…72.  That was the first hump…98…5 days…6 days.  We were over the second hump.

For three weeks we counted each hour.  Then tragedy struck.  Our daughter developed Candida Meningitis and an intestinal infection called N.E.C. which could kill her instantly.  If she survived the N.E.C., the Meningitis could kill her.  A medi-vac helicopter was called to transfer our daughter to a bigger hospital.

All I could do was pray.  Absolutely everything was in God’s hands.  And I cried as I prayed to God to let my wife live…to let my daughter live.  And I thank God ever so much for putting Chassa in my life to hold as  prayed, to hug as I prayed, to just keep me company when I was alone at home.  I talked to that dog so much you’d think I was crazy.  Many times Chassa was the second of “when two or three are gathered in Your name.”  And though Chassa didn’t know what was going on, she knew something was troubling me in a big way.

That’s what’s so wonderful with a pet’s love.  It’s unconditional.  No matter what you do, a pet still loves you.  Chassa had forgotten all the spankings she had gotten.  She just knew something was bothering me.  She wanted to be there for me.

Chassa opened the door to our hearts that no human being could have.  Yes, God used Chassa to open our hearts to unconditional love.  There’s a huge void in our lives where Chassa was.  And both my wife and I realize that we are going to fill each other’s void.  But more importantly, that door is still open, and out of it is flowing God’s unconditional love.

I went to the garage to get an old blanket to wrap Chassa in.  The first thing I saw was a nice bedspread.  No, we can still use that bedspread.  No, it’s so pretty Chassa deserves to be buried in it.  We took her to the country and held a little funeral.  Through the tears, we could barely say our prayers.  Prayers for Chassa.  We covered her up.  The grief was almost unbearable, but that hurt was a small price to pay for all the happiness Chassa brought us.  The cross we made was simple.  It read: Chassa Bear Street, Aug. 1985 – Feb. 1987, We love you for all the happiness you brought us.”

Today we have a wonderful daughter who is normal as far as the doctors could tell.  We do not have Chassa with us anymore, but that’s okay.  God has called her home.  And I’m happy for her.  Chassa has taught us the unconditionallity of God’s love.  I’m so sad we didn’t see it until her death.  But in her life, we see it so clear.

God put Chassa on this earth for a reason.  And now God has taken her off this earth.

Yes, son, dogs do go to Heaven.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

My dad wrote this story...I cry everytime I read it...:-(...RIP Chassa Bear

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Sue Mceachern's picture

good piece. im sorry u lost your dog. i just want to let u know though a dog is just not a dog a dog is part of the family and when u lose a dog or any animal for that matter its like losing your best friend or family member. rip charra.

Ruth Lovejoy's picture

anyone with a pet knows the love of a pet and the great void of loss -great write!