|Criddle in my arms about an hour before she passed.|
Never a sweeter dog walked the earth.
I don't believe animals have a "soul" in the manner that a human does but I do believe they have something, call it a "life-force" that gives them a personality and a modicum of intelligence. I also don't believe in animals or pets going to heaven as we tend to think of it. Instead I put my faith and trust in God and believe that he will take care of them in death as he did in life. I choose to think of the example Christ gave when he talked about the birds in Matthew 6:26 when he says:
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them."
In other words it is not for us to worry about our dogs or cats when they die because God will take care of them in his way.
But why does their death affect me so much more than the death of an adult human? Obviously in either case there is a void in our lives once filled by that person and that animal. For me I believe the answer lies in the knowledge that animals don't live life and make decisions based on whether something is right or wrong. They don't plan their days or set goals to reach. They don't fall in love or scheme against others. What they do is make decisions based on instinct and rewards, they have no plan for life or seek to attain a goal. I don't believe they "love" as we know the word, rather they are created to be loved and instinctively respond to love (and unfortunately respond to hate too).
I believe dogs especially are created with an instinct to protect the "pack" or family, whether it be one person or many, because they have a highly developed instinct of bonding.
My point is that I feel a greater sense of loss over a dog (or pet) because they cannot make decisions for themselves of right and wrong and for that reason we as human beings are tasked with the responsibility of good stewardship to those creatures. It is our responsibility to love, care and provide for those animals we take into our hearts and lives and homes. And at the end of the day we sit back and evaluate our own behavior towards them and worry over whether we could have done something different or more to enrich their lives to a fuller extent because in the end it is truly they who have enriched our lives so greatly and enriched it so much more than we can ever repay... and so we bestow upon these creatures we call pets the greatest honor we can, we choose not to call them pets, but to call them "family."