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do dogs go to heaven? dr. ernie ward debates

“Do dogs go to heaven?” the 5-year old girl asked me earnestly as her bright blue eyes dimmed a little. “I want to know if God will take care of Buster.”

In more than 20 years of being a veterinarian, this is perhaps the hardest question I’m ever asked. The little girl was asking because it was time to say goodbye to the only pet she’d ever known.

Questions like this are tough, well, because I don’t know the answer. I can’t quote a scientific study or relay my personal experience in the matter. I can only offer what I believe to be true.

“Yes, Becky, I believe Buster will go to heaven. I also believe God will take very good care of her,” I replied, trying hard to hide the tremble in my voice.

“What do dogs do in heaven?”

“Well, I believe God made animals to play with us, help take care of us and to remind us that love is a very special thing. I know you loved Buster very much and I’m sure she loved you even more.” By now I could barely see through the tears welling in my eyes. Two beings, one animal and an innocent child, were reminding me what life was truly about.

“I love Buster so much. Do you think God can talk to her and make her happy? Will God make her all better?”

Buster had been battling bone cancer for several months. It hadn’t always been pleasant, between surgery and the side effects of her medications.

“Becky, God can talk to all animals and every person. In fact, when I close my eyes and listen very carefully, I think I hear God talking to me and telling me everything will be just fine. When Buster gets to heaven, I bet the first thing she’ll do is find a squirrel to chase!”

The tiny child turned away and sat down beside her best friend. She laid her head on Buster’s neck and began to whisper.

“Buster, you’re going to heaven now. I don’t want you to be scared because God is going to take good care of you. Thanks for playing with me and never getting mad, even when I hurt your leg that time. You’re the best friend in the whole world. I’m going to miss you.”

And with that she kissed Buster lightly, stood up and went to her mother.

I do believe dogs and cats go to heaven, despite the lack of scientific evidence. I know that the sacred bond we share with animals is something to be treasured. Few relationships in life give so much while asking so little. I find it hard to believe that something so special as love would be wasted in the cold, unfeeling universe. If God is love, then heaven is where that love goes. And if love is in heaven, that’s where we’ll find Buster.
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Posted by Peggy Drown
on May 12 2014 18:10

No dry eyes here. Such a beautiful story. Thanks.

Posted by Narda Tolentno
on May 08 2014 15:50

The thought that always sustains me is,if dogs aren't there, then it can't be heaven....... if there is a heaven.

Posted by Nola Chambers
on May 08 2014 13:24

I also believe that animals have souls and go to heaven. It is what keeps me going each time I have to say goodbye to one of my best friends. I wisper for my Dad to please take care of them for me, though his lap must be getting pretty full by now! Thank you Dr. Ward for easing this little girl's heart and mind, and giving her the belief that many animal lovers share, that we will one day see our beloved furry friends again.

Posted by Maureen Kearney
on May 08 2014 12:09

"Like a Shepherd, He feeds His flock, And gathers the lambs in His arms, Holding them tenderly, close to His heart, Leading them home" The God of Animals watches over and cares for all creatures...great and small.

Posted by Karin Mezey
on May 07 2014 13:05

Many years ago, my father's co-worker (an eighteen year old first time dog owner) asked my father the same question. He had just put down the dog he had grown up with. My father didn't know what to say. I told him that heaven is supposed to be a wonderful place with blue skies, green grass and blue oceans, where you will be happy forever. It would not be a wonderful place for me unless animals, especially my pets, are not there too. Therefore, they MUST go to heaven. Also, I have heard a number of religious people say that animals don't go to heaven because they have no souls. If you've ever looked into the eyes of your best friend, you know this isn't true. Therefore, again, they MUST go to heaven

Posted by Diane Rosenberg
on May 07 2014 11:32

I have had to say goodbye to several of my best friends and I always remember the "Rainbow Bridge" story. I hope everyone has read this! If you haven't it certainly deserves a search on the web to locate this beautiful reading.

Posted by Ellie Mccaffrey
on May 07 2014 11:08

I too believe God keeps all His creations with Him when they die. What you said to the little girl was so beautiful. You made it easier for her to let go.

Posted by Jerry Parisella
on May 07 2014 09:40

That was sage counsel, Dr. Ward. How wonderful that in your care of animals, you are also caring for their human caretakers with compassion. When my wife and I lost one of our beloved Dachshunds a few years ago, we came across a similarly touching story. The writer noted that, although the Bible is silent on whether animals have immortal souls like humans, the Bible speaks eloquently about heaven being paradise. She went on to write that, if our happiness in heaven requires the presence of our beloved pets, who is to say that they will not be there? You can't argue with her logic and we know that with God all things are possible.

Posted by Charles Barbour
on March 25 2014 14:09

I think God will send animals to heaven also Dr. Ward. They all seem to have personalities like humans.

Posted by Debbie Lowenstein
on March 23 2014 09:16

Dr. Ward From your mouth to God's ear I hope the same!!

Posted by Debby Owen
on March 22 2014 23:59

The fact that Jesus was born in a stable with animals around is evidence that animals are important to God. Also when the great flood destroyed the earth, it was the animals that were saved over the rest of the world's people. Hmmm, sounds like God is quite fond of the animals he created.

Posted by Deb & Jim Boyce
on March 22 2014 09:58

Ernie; Just wanted to let you know that, again, you and your words are so powerful. What you said to this little girl and, to Jim & I, are so true and calming. We thank you for being who you are and what you are.

Posted by Geraldine Caldwell
on March 22 2014 09:46

Thank you for that thought caring answer. I have always believed that all God's creatures go to heaven. I quoted Darrell Monaco and I agree with this statement totally "If my pet's aren't there then I don't want to be there either". Amen!

Posted by Rita M Dils
on March 22 2014 00:52

This also brought tears to my eyes, thinking about all the dogs we have lost over the years, but I also believe there has to be a special place in heaven for all animals, God would not give them to us if he would not later take care of them!!

Posted by Judy Yamada Frank
on March 21 2014 21:03

Thank you Dr Ernie for your compassion and easing the heartbreak of this little girl. The love we give to and receive for our pets never dies. While it's difficult to say goodbye to our furry friend, I believe it's the most loving thing we can do for them. They tell us when it's time to go. And when I put my hand over my heart and call for Olive, she's there and always will be.

Posted by Debra Gann
on March 21 2014 12:25

Thank you for voicing something that we all need to hear. So eloquently said.

Posted by Elizabeth
on March 21 2014 09:25

I also believe that animals go to heaven. God says in his word that the lion will lay down with the lamb. There are others verses that refer to animals being there. They will be as they were meant to be before corruption entered our world! Yes, God will take care of them and they will love him as it was always meant to be! Betty

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