Over the course of time, animal lovers have raised this question. Do dogs go to heaven? Or for that matter, do animals go to heaven? Many people have weighed in on this matter, including numerous theologians as well. Many young pet owners, especially ones who are not exposed to death and people passing away, always wonder if their pets will go to heaven after they die. In this post, we will try to find the answer to that question. Of course, the answer can’t be fact based and will mainly consist of speculations and assumptions since there is no way to actually see what happens after death or if there is heaven or hell. Anyway, let’s get started.
Do Dogs Go To Heaven: Yes, No, Maybe?
What did C.S. Lewis say about dogs going to heaven?
The popular author of the fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis was a Christian apologist and used to always say that the heaven-bound journey of a dog was dependent on the dog owner’s relationship with God. In a way, C.S. Lewis basically insisted that if the dogs belonged to devout Christian owners, they would go to heaven, otherwise they wouldn’t.
He said: “The theory I am suggesting… makes God the centre of the universe and man the subordinate centre of terrestrial nature: the beasts are not coordinated with man, but subordinate to him, and their destiny is through and through related to his. And the derivative immortality suggested for them is not a mere amende or compensation: It is part and parcel of the new heaven and new earth, organically related to the whole suffering process of the world’s fall and redemption.”
Do dogs go to heaven just like humans: a Christian perspective
You have to be careful when you talk about dogs going to heaven. We don’t even know what it will be like for us. But this is a very interesting question, which goes far beyond the simple fate of animals after they die. Let’s take a look at the place of animals today with us.
The interaction between humans and animals is very complex, very ancient and has been of great help to humans, to work in the fields, to feed us, to clothe us, to take care of us. Animals are indeed the first to test drugs that will one day cure us. Finally, our pets are very important, especially at both ends of life: they are precious for the education of children and for the companionship of the elderly.
They even play a therapeutic role in certain pathologies. But, this is only one of the modalities of the link that we have with the animal kingdom, which structures a large part of our existence. All these links of consumption, companionship, help at work, etc. will not disappear overnight when we pass through the world. Because basically what will remain in the world if not links? Everything we know will be gone one day. On the other hand, the links that we will have forged will remain. We can therefore think that from this point of view, the multiple links that we have forged with animals will also remain.
How are dogs linked to humans?
The question arises in the same way for links with humans. There are people with whom we are not close and with whom we have no connivance, or sometimes even who have hurt us. How will these links mutate, be transfigured in the world? The question concerns everyone and everything. There is a specificity in urban, Western societies, which Pope Francis often denounces: loneliness, which is sometimes wanted, but which is often suffered.
Many people have claimed that having a dog was the only way to remember that they themselves were alive. And there we come up against another question which is the border between man and animal. In our society, it is contested on two points: the human-animal border and humanity increased with post-humanism. Christianity positions humanity in its own way, especially with Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: we are inseparable from Creation, but we are not like spiders or pebbles.
Do dogs have a similar way to heaven as humans?
In terms of Christianity, when we speak of the salvation that Christ brings, it is not only a question of the salvation of humans, but of the salvation of Creation. How will this manifest itself?
The Scriptures speak a lot about animals: the serpent of Genesis which deceives us and leads us to sin, the birds of the sky to which Christ invites us to be like … Does this mean that we are deeply linked, in good as in good? evil, to animals?
Animals are not endowed with a conscience that allows them to perform free acts. One could determine humanity by its capacity to lie, which the young child acquires very early. But it is true that we have a complex bond with animals which goes as far as undue exploitation and pressure, and can constitute a form of sin.
What does the Christian parable of being like the “birds in the air” mean?
It’s a parable that simply means that our life is given to us without our having to earn it. Life is a free gift, which we have to pass on for free. And it is given to all living.
There are links between all living things, including plants, which are certainly also associated with the new world that we do not know. Because we also have an obvious interaction with the plant kingdom, not only to feed and dress us, but also to inspire us.
See how nature, landscapes, trees, flowers are for us multiple sources of inspiration: scientific, because deciphering the functioning of a plant helps us understand many other things, poetic, religious. In the Psalms, animals and plants are an object of meditation on our own destiny and on our responsibility as human beings, which is unique.
If Christianity talks about salvation for the entire world, can dogs get it too?
If you take a look into the stories of the Bible, the story of Noah’s ark says something very powerful about this, it speaks of solidarity between all living things, even the most dreadful. The strength of Genesis is not historical, but political: it affirms that there is only one human race for example. And she also says that there is solidarity between all forms of life.
Can dogs choose salvation the way humans can?
In Christian terms, because we are free, we have a very great responsibility, which is proper to us, and which gives all its greatness to the human vocation, within a Creation that God wants and that he wants good. So if you take the Christian point of view, dogs can definitely go to heaven. How can creatures with such pure hearts not?
Do dogs go to heaven: A story from the Hindu perspective
In the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira, along with his four brothers and Draupadi, proceeded towards the Himalayas. Yudhishthira’s pet dog also went with these people. Nakul and Sahdev many times drove that dog out of the way and asked to return to Hastinapur but that dog did not return to Hastinapur. Later Yudhishthira asked Nakula and Sahadeva not to drive him away. This dog was a great devotee of Yudhishthira and always helped him.
Keep in mind, this was after the big battle between the Pandavas and Kauravas and they had finished their time on Earth. Draupadi and the Pandavas left their bodies. During the journey, the Pandavas crossed many pilgrimage sites, mountains, deserts and forests and started reaching near the Himalayas. During this, gradually Yudhishthira’s brother along with Draupadi started falling unconscious on the way and died. Yudhishthira was saddened to leave with his brothers. During this, the dog did not leave Yudhishthira’s side.
An argument broke out between Yudhishthira and Indra When Yudhishthira reached the sandy ground after crossing the Sumeru mountain and the Himalayas, suddenly the king of heaven Indra appeared there. He told Yudhishthira that he had come to take him to heaven. Yudhishthira asked his four brothers and Draupadi to be alive. On this Indra told that he had already reached heaven after giving up all the bodies and now it is his turn to go to heaven.
Yudhishthira requested Indra to take the dog to heaven as well, but Indra refused. On this a debate broke out between Yudhishthira and Indra. Yudhishthira said that he had left everything behind. During this journey, he had to deal with difficult conditions. All the brothers including Arjuna and Draupadi also left him on the journey, but this dog did not abandon him throughout his last journey as well.
Yamraj had to intervene. Yudhishthira said that without taking it, I can not go to heaven. I cannot be a partaker of sin. He is my supreme devotee and I will not leave him alone. Despite Indra’s explanation, Yudhishthira remained adamant and asked Indra to return to heaven. To stop the argument between Indra and Yudhishthira, Yamraj, who was with Yudhishthira in the disguise of a dog, came in his true form.
Dharmaraja and Pandavas reached heaven, Yamraj said that Dharmaraja, I was not ignorant of your truthfulness, but today I have also become a witness to your faithfulness and steadfastness in the observance of Dharma. Yamraj said that you are truly Dharmaraja and you will go to heaven bodily. Thus Yamraj ended the ongoing debate between Indra and Yudhishthira.
So you can see, even cultures that were thousands of miles apart and developed at different points in time, believed that dogs can go to heaven.