The following blog is excerpted from my book, What Happens to You When Your Pet Dies: Spirituality for Pet Owners. See section in Books.
You can lose a pet in an accident, or it can run away, or you may have to terminate its life due to illness or old age.
We care so much for our pets so much, that it is difficult when we lose them. It is almost unbearable to give permission to terminate your pet’s life. That is your human side showing itself. Why is that?
Are we humans instinctively protecting life? We are the prime species of animals on earth. We are bonded with our pets by our common ancestry. The reason we hate to have our pet put to sleep is our deep, innate respect for all life. It is part of our spiritual blueprint. We don’t put our old human grandparents to sleep when they get old. Why not? When I was a boy, our family has had to put several dogs, some cats, and two horses to death. It was not easy. Maybe we felt guilty because our animal companions always gave us their affection readily. Our pets were part of the family in a very real sense. When they ran away, we got depressed. Why is that? It is easier to lose a pet to an auto accident than to have to make the decision to put it to sleep. Why is that? We grieve for our pets as much as we would for a family member. Why is that?
Our pet is one of the family. When it dies, we grieve as though we have lost a member of the family.
Pets do not live in the human world. They live only in the physical world. Everything in the physical world lives, procreate, survives and then dies.
If humans lived only in the physical universe, like our animal friends, I would have no problem with assisted suicide or even genocide. Who cares? You live, you breed, and you die. The default for our species is life, not death. For humans, we have a choice to be merely human, living only in two universes of physical and mental, or we can choose to live…Forever.
It’s that pesky, spiritual universe that keeps getting in the way. When your center is pure knowledge, pure love, pure energy or service, life is not yours to give or take. It is yours to discover and sustain.
When an animal dies, our relationship with them dies, too. We cherish them in our minds…Forever. We can be closer to our pet than we are to family members. Why is that? Is that bad? What are the limitation of that relationship?
Pets are not human. Only humans live in the mental world. This is the world of reason.
Why is it that we have such a love for animals and make some of them our pets? We share the physical world with all living things. Do Aardvarks prepare your annual taxes? Of course not, you get an accountant. Why do humans have the ability to reason whereas aardvarks simply eat, sleep, procreate, and die? Our pets are not human. Pets cannot respond to you as human, even though we speak to them as though they were our bosom buddies. We tell them our most intimate thoughts, those we would not even share with our spouse, and all they do is give us unconditional affection in return. Pets respond to us according to their nature, not ours. Pets cannot form a human relationship with us. That would have happened between God and humans, were it not for The Master helping us connect with the spiritual universe. Pets don’t go to Heaven, because they are not human. But, because you are spiritual, you can take all of your animal friends to Heaven with you, if you link them to God’s will. Do you know how to do that? It is as simple as wishing it to be so. Everything you value prepares your framework for the life to come.
We take care of pets because we also come from animal stock.
Humans are animals PLUS the ability to reason. We know that we know. We are spiritual apes, in one sense, the result of billions of years of evolution. How else can you explain our lack of development, our sinfulness, our fixation on hatred, war, and power? Human animals are capable of much, much more. We are in the process of maturing as a race. We are just infants in our collective maturity. As an individual, you live not only in the physical world but also in the mental world. Your pet only lives in the physical world. Way down deep, you take care of your pets because you come from the same genetic stuff. You have well over 98% of DNA in common with Chimpanzees. You are not an animal in the same way a possum is. So, what makes you so special? God! We still act like animals sometimes. That tension is called temptation, and we fight it as long as we are breathing. Humans are spiritual apes. Deny it, or affirm it, the fact is, we developed from animals, but with a BIG difference. God gave us reason and free will and made us in His image and likeness. When looking at that helpless kitty at the Animal Shelter, you naturally want to protect it and take it home with you. I do.
We are sad when a pet is sick or in trouble.
We are the care-giver for our pet. We feed it, nurse it when it is sick, spend time loving it by brushing its hair, talking to it, touching it. You must remember that you did not lose a pet, because it was never yours to begin with. You were just the care giver. Your pet is free to be itself. Your pet is not human, even though you grieve for it. Pets can grieve for their companions, but with a difference. Your animal friend can’t put death into any type of perspective. It is only a loss. There is no hope. Humans are the only ones who are not free to be animals. Ironically, it is freedom and choice that are the characteristics of being human. When your pet is sick, what does it do? It is difficult to heal itself. Humans can heal animals. When our pets have cancer, and need surgery, we have the technology to help them. They need our friendship. One of the good things about being spiritual is, we can take our pets with us to Heaven. Heaven is like a containment area God makes to give us a reference point. It is populated with those experiences we linked to God’s will, while we were on earth. That includes all our pets and life experiences that are consistent with who God is.
Reflections on Losing My Pet
Losing a pet reminds me of my animal heritage. Pets share my early roots, my stock, my genes, and my heritage. Pets are not human, but of all the life forms, they make me reflect on my humanity more than any other. Button is my pet, but she has never once jumped up on my lap. My wife is the mommy cat. I am useless, unless she wants to talk to someone. She is pure Himalayan, and so independent, I’d swear she is a perpetual teenager. My wife and I have cared for Button and has raised her from a tiny kitten, covered in fleas. Button was actually depressed, when my wife went out-of-town for four weeks. I took her to the Vet for signs of depression. When Button is sick now, we are there, just as we would be for our daughter. My wife and I acted according to our nature, caring for the lower species. Buttons is not human. She responds according to her nature — she responds to kindness, the need for food, stroking, and especially kitty treats. We cried when we lost Buttons. Buttons won’t know she is dead. We buried her after linking her with God’s will to our journey. I hope there are no kitty litter boxes in Heaven.
|That in all things, God be glorified. –St. Benedict|