Why I Feel Fairly Confident I’ll See My Dead Dog Again: Reflections on Pets and Resurrection

Why I believe there will be pets in the afterlife

As many of you know, I lost my precious dog Narnia over a week ago.

The outpouring of love and understanding I received was both surprising and soothing. For some reason, I didn’t realize there were so many people out there who would understand my intense grief over losing a pet. (On that note, I want to say thank-you. Thanks so much, everyone, for being so wonderful and understanding. Your words of sympathy truly aided in my healing.)

I never quite realized just how deeply you could love a member of a different species until I adopted my precious Narnia.

narnia puppyNarnia, when we adopted her. Oh, my heart . . .

She was a huge pain in the butt, in all honesty. She barked way too much and she shed her white fur all over the place. She had an annoying habit of hanging out right under your feet and then skittering away every time you made a move. She ate underwear. She hated baths. She was bad with kids (except for Lydia). And it was impossible to keep Lydia out of her food dish.

But oh, I loved that darling little pup. She was a great cuddler. She loved to sit on my lap, and could stay there for hours if I would let her.  She loved the smell of tears, and eagerly licked them up when I was sad.

She was so playful. She was so tiny (she weighed about 6 pounds) I could play fetch with her indoors, which she wanted to do every single day until the day she died.

Losing her was utter agony. The house has felt so empty since we lost her. No familiar yapping every time the doorbell rings. No one nudging my leg with a plush bone when I sit down in front of the computer.

I’m so sad that Lydia won’t remember Narnia when she’s older. I can’t bear the thought of our family spending the rest of our lives without a dog in the house, but I also can’t imagine replacing her. We’re a dog family. But no, that’s not right. What we are is a Narnia family. I don’t want any other dog. I want Narnia.

Anyway, I mentioned on Facebook that since my beloved pet happened to pass away during the same month I was reading N. T. Wright’s book on resurrection (Surprised by Hope), I naturally began to reflect on the possibility of animals being resurrected in the new earth.

Osheta responded by sharing a link to a sermon by Jonathan Martin, in which he addresses this very question. (The sermon is entitled “Nor Things to Come,” and he starts to talk about pets and the resurrection around 8:00).

I was so blessed by the ideas Martin shares here, that I thought I’d pass them along.

I think he’s right. I think God will resurrect our beloved pets in the life that is to come.

Do I sound crazy? Here are some thoughts.

(Note: I am writing all this based on the assumption that God will, at the end of this age, restore ALL of Creation to its former glory. Instead of whisking our souls off to some disembodied heaven and destroying the material world, I believe God intends to bring heaven to earth, restoring and transforming our physical bodies right here, as he did Christ’s on Easter. If you’re interested in this subject, I highly recommend N. T Wright’s remarkable Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.)

(A second note: This understanding of eschatology circumvents the question of whether or not animals have souls, because a soul is not necessarily imperative in a restored physical earth.)

Why I Believe We Will See Our Pets Again

Scripture seems to suggest that there will be animals in the new earth.

Isaiah 11, for example, describes the wolf and the lamb living together, the leopard lying down with the goat, the cow eating with the bear. (I love the suggestion that they will all be vegetarians, too.)

Animals are a part of God’s good creation.

As Martin points out, God created them because he delights in them, and he wants us to delight in them. Surely they will be a part of the restored earth. Romans 8 tells us that all of Creation waits for the day it will be “liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (verse 21).

The Bible is full of language that says animals praise God.

I’ve always loved the line in Psalm 150 that says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” I love that image: the birds sing, the dogs bark, the goats bleat; all of this is a song of praise to the Lord, which brings him delight. I believe this will continue in the life that is to come.

God likes to give good gifts to his children.

Martin encourages us to ask ourselves an important question when it comes to matters like these: What is God like? What does the heart of God look like?

Jesus describes God as a Father who likes to give good gifts to his children. Matthew 7:11 reads, “If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I think this is relevant to the question of our pets.

Many of us love and have loved certain animals with all our hearts. As Martin argues: if you love your pets, why wouldn’t God want you to have them in the restored earth? “That just sounds like something God would do,” he argues.

And I agree. That does sound like the God I serve.

* * *

Will there be Pets in Heaven? Reflections on the ResurrectionYesterday Lydia was eating in her high chair when she dropped a piece of chicken onto the floor. Normally, Narnia would be there to clean that up for us. When Narnia didn’t show up, Lydia declared, “Narnia take a nap.”

And I was able to smile sadly, and say with confidence, “Yeah. Narnia’s taking a looooong nap.”

Someday, she’ll wake up and be with us again.

What do you think? Do you expect to see pets in the future life?

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  1. I think our animals will be in Heaven, or rather on the New Earth when God creates it. After all, if He saw fit to put them here the first time around, and everything about the Earth He created was perfect, why wouldn’t He do it again? Plus, as you said, there are so many references to at least SOME animals being there. I don’t have a Biblical basis for saying this, but I think animals know that God is God; not that they have souls like we do, but that they recognize His sovereignty. It’s comforting to think that I will see them again someday, along with the humans that I am expecting to see. It’s also comforting to know with certainty that if I am wrong, and the animals aren’t there, I won’t be sad about it, as hard as that is for me to grasp right now.

  2. You know, I’ve never really thought about it much before, but I think I agree. Why not? If God is restoring everything to glory, all the relationships, all the joy and goodness of this earth forever. Well then it makes sense our pets are there too.

    (except maybe my Nana’s weird greyhound who was mean and snarled at everyone… ;) )
    Fiona Lynne recently posted..saving tiny livesMy Profile

  3. hannely says:

    This kind of post is the reason I love reading your blog! Like Fiona, this isn’t something I’d really thought about before, but I enjoyed reading your reasoned argument. And I think you’re right.

    I didn’t comment on your announcement post, but I also wanted to say that I was sorry to hear about Narnia. I know exactly how a pet becomes part of a family, and I’ve been thinking of you in your grief.

  4. Emily W says:

    Great post! I absolutely agree.

  5. David G. says:

    I lost my dog (Murphy) June 25th. He was hit by a car chasing a squirrel. I ran to him and asked if he was alright. He waged his tail for about 2 seconds and died. I miss him so. He was an 8 years old Jackapoo, 10 pounds and my best friend. I truly hope that I see him where ever we go when our current earthly life has ended.

  6. I absolutely needed to read this post today. I happened to come across your shampoo method on Pintrest and decided to look at the rest of your blog. I lost my first dog that I adopted when I moved away on my own in April when she was hit by a car. I also had to make the decision to put her down. I still go over whether I made the right decision or not, but I know she was in so much pain that it needed to be done. This post put my heart at ease and had me look into the subject myself in my own bible studies. Thank you for this and my prayers are with you and your family! P. S. Your precious Narnia looks so much like my Penelope did.

  7. Some pet owners here in Russia believe in the Rainbow Bridge and that they will meet their dead pets there. However, there is nothing Christian about the concept of the Rainbow Bridge, it’s rather heathen or New Age.

    I also don’t understand why many think animals lack the (immortal) soul. I believe that any animal capable of love has a divine spark in it which makes love possible, and that spark is the soul. But after all, I am a very bad Christian and can be mistaken.

    There is however one theological argument for the presence of immortal souls in animals. Christianity teaches us that when we suffer in this life, our suffering has a purpose in the afterlife. Animals can suffer too, no doubt about it. If they have no immortal soul and no afterlife, their suffering would be in vain. I cannot believe that God makes anyone suffer in vain, this would be a wicked God.

    Can you please reply what you think of this argument.
    vas recently posted..Нил Гейман Снег, зеркало, яблокоMy Profile

    • Hi, Vas. Good thoughts! For the same reasons you mention (and more), I’m not closed to the possibility that animals have eternal souls, either. Before the Enlightenment, people generally believed that animals had souls — or at least “spirits.” The Greek word for breath and spirit are the same (pneuma), so (as I understand it) it was commonly understood that animals with breath were endowed with an eternal, spiritual component. The Bible doesn’t address this subject head-on, so we can only speculate; but I think it’s reasonable to suppose animals have souls (though they would be different from human souls. Animals are not “made in God’s image.”)

  8. I’m by no means religous, but I am spiritual and have to believe there is something more where I will be reunited with both Dusty and Dakota Rose. Dusty lived a good long life of 19 yrs….but just 2 weeks ago exactly my life as I know it shattered….my 3 yr old baby started rapidly declining when I didn’t even know she was sick! At 3:42am in the Vet ER they came out to tell me, Dakota stopped breathing. In that moment I know it sounds crazy, but I wanted to go with her wherever she was going because I always knew that Id most likely outlive her…but to lose her so traumatically and young….anyhow found your blog in searching for hope that one day I will be reunited with them….I have to believe I will or well I just have to in order to be able to go on…..

  9. Thanks for posting this. I lost my baby girl Casey last week. She had a back injury which caused her to have heart & brain issues. Eventually her hind legs gave out on her & she couldn’t walk so I had to put her down. Definitely the hardest thing I ever had to do & ill never forget her staring into my eyes when she took her last breath. I had her for 11 years and raised her like the child I never had (or never will have). It’s been 7 days and I still can’t get over the sadness, loneliness and grief. I’m single, live alone and have no social life, so she was my everything. I’m not religious but more spiritual and I believe that my baby girl does indeed have a soul (or spirit…whatever you wanna call it) and I strongly believe that we’ll be together in the afterlife. I also like to believe that maybe she’s already back here reincarnated as a beautiful little human baby and she’ll go on to live a happy & healthy life with a great family. And…who knows? Maybe in MY passing I will come back reincarnated as one of HER babies, and the roles will be reversed. :) I just miss her so much and I’m waiting to see her in my dreams.

  10. I just came across this blog. I am so devastated by the loss of my beloved Koty. He was an 11 1/2 year old chocolate lab that had more heart than most people. I waited 30 years to get him. He was the love of my life, my protector, my best friend and I lost him Friday night. For months I had been taking him to a vet who couldn’t find what was wrong. 5 minutes with the emergency vet Friday night resulted in the grave news that cancer had intruded into every cavity of his body. His final act was to lift his head to comfort me. I don’t know how to go on without him. There isn’t a space in this house where he didn’t reside at one point. He slept with me every night until the past few months; when I feared him hurting himself getting up and down, so I bought him a bed…better than my own. I need to know I will see him again. I need his presence. How, when your children are grown, do you continue on?

  11. I lost my dog 3 years ago and can’t get over it. I devoted 16.5 years to her. It was like I had a big hole in my heart when I had to let the vet put her to sleep. God I never wish this on anyone. She was in pain at the end and her systems were shutting down. I had no choice. This act, killed me also.

    Im trying to recover from self distructing. I wish there were support groups for this. Someone to call.
    if you know of any, call me 713-885-1995 JC

  12. We lost our dear trusty companion of 15 years yesterday. Birch, a Springer Spaniel was a beautiful pet and one that has not only lefta huge hole in our lives but even our cat, Diesel, is moping about the house not wanting to go out and jumping at the least wee noise thinking it’s her. They got on so well.
    The pain of losing a pet is almost incomprehensible. Words are difficult to put together to describe the pain that is felt in the heart.
    Even today, just 24 hours after our loss, both of us have moments where we just sob our hearts out.
    I believe that there is a place in heaven for our animals. God did not create a ‘throwaway’ creation. We are told in Genesis that he created ‘living’ creatures. Everyhting that has life breathes and everything that breathes has soul. He looked upon everything he had made and it as good.
    IN Revelation 5:13 we read that ‘Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing….’ Yeh, singing!! God must have a place in His Home for the animals He made that have passed. Heaven and a new heaven anad new earth would be a sorry place without them, and I don’t believe for a moment that we will be re-united again. Yes, animal souls are different to us. it clearly states that we are a different species altogether in Genesis. God ‘Breathed’ His life into the life of man (humankind) where he created everything else. I miss my pets that have gone on before so so much, and my hubby and I are still very very sore with the loss of Birch yesterday. We nver forget them and their memories will live on in our hearts, as long as we have breath! My heart goes out to all who have suffered loss on here. x

    • Beautiful thoughts, Angi. “God did not create a ‘throwaway’ creation.” I completely agree with you.

      It’s been six months and I still had a good cry today about my dog. I look forward to seeing her again, too.

      • Thank you Kathleen. As I was making supper I hada little too much [asta in the pot and it brought back memory of Birch. Once cool the extra would have been mixed in with her meat. Now she isn’t here. (:
        My son phoned me to day and said ‘she’ll be playing with Holly now.’ (that was our other Springer who we lost in 2007) and it brought tears as everything is so fresh.
        I do like your blog and am reading some others too. God bless you. You will always have moments of tears. Whether it is a pet we lose or a loved one (human) we remember the by different thoughts or things, music or memory. x

  13. Sorry! Made a mistake in above message. The sentence ” Heaven and a new heaven and new earth would be a sorry place without them, and I don’t believe for a moment that we will be re-united again”
    should read ” Heaven and a new heaven and new earth would be a sorry place without them, and I don’t believe for a moment that we will ‘not’ be re-united again” Yes, I believe that they will be waiting.

  14. Maui's mom says:

    My heart is so heavy, I lost my sweet naughty Cocker Spaniel 3 days ago to renal failure. I’ve been weepy and mad and everything in between. I’m just searching for comfort that I will see my best friend again. I have such a hard time believing God would give me such a wonderful gift, and take it away, never to let me see her again. She has been with me for almost 15 years, through marriage, babies born , good times and hard times, she was a part of my family. My heart just Hurts. Thank you for writing this, your Narnia was a cutie, we’ll see them again. I dot need a lot in my heaven. Just the basics.

  15. We just lost our precious Miniature Pinscher, Lexie one week ago. She was with us for 12 years and was as much a member of our family as any human being…more so in many ways! We had to put her down following an onslaught of physical issues. It was so painful and we never imagined how deeply it would hurt to lose her. In a matter of a few days, I found her favorite old ball that we hadn’t seen in 2 years and then, she came to me in a dream early one morning. I couldn’t see her, but intensely felt her presence next to me. We were both looking at a picture in the distance. It was our other two dogs. Lexie told me in a telepathic manner, “I’m okay. Just take care of Bella and Wylie now.” It was so comforting. We had her cremated and her cremains will go to my grave with me!

  16. Carolyn Allen says:

    On March 20, I lost my 15 year, 10 month old Bichon Sheri to kidney disease. She just missed her 16th birthday which would have been May 14th. The tears just won’t stop flowing. I miss her so much. She was such an important part of my life. I don’t know how I’m ever going to feel happy again without her. The sadness and grief is so overwhelming. I have to believe that I will see my sweet Sheri again. Then we found out that our other 9 year old dog has bone cancer so he will be leaving us too. It’s all too much to bear. The only thing that keeps us going is that we will see them again. I’m thankful that I found this site where others think as I do. God bless all here and all who share the loss if their beloved furry family member. <3

  17. my dog died 15 years ago and we only stayed together for a very brief time of 6 months. i’ve missed her since then, and still would weep when i think about her or see pics of dogs. i’ve never had another pet after her. i wish and i believe that i would see her again someday. i’m not a christian nor do i really gave a religion; i just believe so. thanks for your sharing. all our loved ones who have gone before us will be there waiting for us to share eternity.

  18. Hi!

    Love this, thanks! We lost our dog Sammy just over a month ago. The only thing that gives me solace and peace is that I know without a shadow of doubt we will see him again. It gets better, he will remember me! When Christ came to earth, He gave His life for us, but then rose on the third day, known as the resurrection ( spirit and body reunited never to be separated again). The gift of the resurrection extends to all living things. How wonderful is that? Our Saviour was not mincing words when he said, ” I am the way, the truth and the LIFE. He loved us enough to give His life. What’s important to me ( which is good), is important to Him and also to our Father in Heaven. Have faith my friends, for we will indeed be with our ‘furry’ friends again.

  19. Kathleen,

    What beautiful thoughts and wonderful comments. I said goodbye to my most precious boy last night. The ache and emptiness I feel is unbelievable. It made me think about this very question. I asked a minister and he said no that our pets would not return to us and explained why. After I got off the phone I googled this question and found your blog. I have to agree. God has promised us that in the New World that he will wipe out every tear from our eyes and death will be no more. He tells us that we will be happy and I believe some of our happiness is based on our life now. For people like me, I never had children. My pets have been my children. I know there will be many more joys and things yet untold to us that we will experience in the New World but I have to believe that some of our happiness is based on the joys of this life and many of my joys and milestones in my life our based on pets. I look forward to the promised New World and look forward to being reunited with all of my fur babies. RIP my sweet sweet Jett and I will see you again very soon!

  20. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your further
    write ups thank you once again.
    Broderick recently posted..BroderickMy Profile

  21. dear Kathleen, I agree with you, your words were precious to me, pets , especially my dear bunny that died last month are very important to me and are like children, since i have none…. i want to believe like you that God will give them back to us….

  22. We lost our beLOVED cat and dog within three months of one another. It’s now been over two years ago and I still miss them all the time. Miss as in a painful ache that sometimes feels as though it could consume me. I am not embarrassed by the intensity or tenacious quality of these feelings. Not at all. If you knew them as I knew them, you would understand. Suffice it to say that spending my life with them, as I did, I would not trade a single day with them for all the grief that I have felt and will likely always feel. They were singularly splendid creatures. Being childless, they were my children. All I know is that if God wants to give me the desires of my heart, he will give them back to me, as my deepest and most profound desire is to be reunited with them and to never be separated from them again. I love you Maggie. I love you Puppy. Forever.

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