The Ultimate Pet Rescue Service

March 29, 2014

by Maria Fontaine

God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.—Billy Graham

Pets the world over act as companions, helpers, and sources of comfort in difficult times. When those pets die, the resulting sense of loss can be very painful. People have very little to help them through these often traumatic experiences, especially if that pet has been the object of a large part of their love and care, or a major source of comfort. People who experience this often search for answers and the hope that they haven’t lost forever what had become very dear to their hearts. Our compassion and understanding can help them look to God for their comfort. Our words can help them feel an assurance that they’ll be reunited with their beloved pets in heaven.

I believe that heaven will be home to God’s ultimate pet rescue service as He restores His creation to its original perfection. While we can’t prove from the Bible that pets go to heaven, we do know that Jesus loves us and wants us to be content and happy in our eternal, heavenly home. If that eternal home will include many other things that are good and familiar to us from this life on earth, it would make sense that God would include those animal companions that we have bonded with.

In the course of a recent conversation, someone started telling me how difficult it had been when he’d had to put his pet dog down due to old age. This dog had been his beloved companion for many years and had been with him almost constantly, had slept by his bed and had been a friend he could talk to when he was lonely or depressed. This special dog had originally appeared almost out of nowhere, on his doorstep. This man was convinced that God had sent this beloved pet at a time when he greatly needed companionship and unconditional love.

The deep bond that had been forged between them made this pet his pride and joy and one of the dearest things in the world to him. I realized that for him this dog’s passing caused a grief and mourning virtually as deep as that of the loss of a human member of his family.

This man is a Christian and believes in the afterlife for himself. However, he was unsure if his pet would be in heaven as well. This left an aching void in his heart and a sense of intense loss.

I told him that I believe that God’s unlimited love for us makes our eternal home a place where all our dreams and wishes come to pass, including being reunited with the pets who have meant so much to us on earth. He’s promised to give us the desires of our heart as we delight ourselves in Him.[1]

I explained to my friend that there are those who have had visions of their pets in heaven. Some, in life-after-death experiences, have seen their pets. All of this seemed to lift a heavy burden from him and to ease the sense of loss that was weighing him down.

As Christians, our personal connection with Jesus and our faith in His unconditional and unlimited love can give us what is needed to comfort those who are facing the grief or pain of loss. Jesus takes our pain and suffering on Himself and walks with us in times of trouble. So when we are ministering to people, I believe that whatever is the cause of their sorrow and pain should be our concern as well.

There are a growing number of Christian pet loss support groups, meaningful pet funeral services, and grief counselors. Their aim is to comfort those who are struggling with the loss of a dear pet companion and to encourage them to trust in the Lord’s love. They want to help them realize that they have a God who cares enough that not a single sparrow falls without Him knowing.[2] What would the new heaven and the new earth be without His wonderful, perfect creation: the living creatures that the Bible says all have the life of God in them?[3]

Supporting those who have lost a dear pet is a chance to build a connection with them at a time when they need help and God’s love and the hope of what that love can do. Our great privilege—and responsibility—is to reach out to help those who need comfort and support in their time of suffering, and to offer it to them in a context that meets their need.

Here is an account that shows what a great help this can be:

A few weeks ago, some children in our neighborhood faced a tragedy—the sudden passing of their beloved dog, Kaluua. It was decided that Kaluua would be laid to rest under a shade tree in the garden at her home, next to a beautiful statue of an angel, and that a simple memorial ceremony would be held on Saturday morning. I offered to say a few words at the ceremony, to try to cheer up the kids and to help them have a more positive outlook about such experiences.

We gathered on the lawn on a beautiful summer morning, with the sun shining brightly and the birds singing. I explained to the children that heaven is a real place, like our present world, only much more beautiful, and that it’s where we go when we leave this life. I told them about how we will eat fruit from the tree of life, and about how we will live forever.

“The Bible isn’t entirely clear on some details,” I went on to explain, “but I believe, like many others, that family members and close friends who have gone before us to heaven will greet us when we arrive. I also believe there will be pets in heaven.” I explained that perhaps Pop Pop (the grandfather of several of the children, who died last year) is waiting for Kaluua, and she could stay at Pop Pop’s home in heaven.

After that little talk we sang a hymn, laid flowers on Kaluua’s grave, said a prayer, and ended. The kids all said goodbye and returned to their busy little lives. But the adults who had attended the memorial stayed and thanked me over and over. “That was beautiful.” “It was so uplifting!” “The best memorial service I have ever been to.”

I thanked them and thought at first that their kind remarks had been out of courtesy more than anything, but as we continued talking, I realized that they had also been comforted by my description of heaven and the way that I spoke of it so naturally. I realized then how little many people know about heaven. Many don’t understand that if they accept God’s salvation in Jesus, the door will swing wide open when they arrive.

Jesus said, “In My Father’s house there are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

As believers, our every thought of heaven and the afterlife should be only of joy and gratitude for such a precious gift.—Martin McTeg[4]

[1] Psalm 37:4.

[2] Matthew 10:29.

[3] Many translations of Genesis 1:30 describe the creatures of the earth as having the “breath of life” in them or of having “a living soul,” which means a body and a spirit. These are the same terms used to describe man when God created him. Man is unique in that he is made in the image and likeness of God. These terms, "breath of life” or “a living soul,” are used in the NIV, ESV, HCSB, NET, Jubilee, Darby, Young's literal translation, and others.

[4] Martin McTeg’s article was printed in Reflections 427, July 2008.