Sometimes I think my dog is a better Christian than I am.
He’s never read the Bible. Never studied the Catechism. Never been inside a church. He’s never attended a prayer group, never joined with others in praise songs.
But he knows how to act lovingly. He grasps wrong from right and generally seems to choose ‘right.’ And he knows who his mistress is and how to stay on her good side. Witness these examples:
- He doesn’t fail to put me ahead of everything else (well, except maybe food!).
- When I call, he listens and responds. I’ve never heard him reply, ‘Just a minute, ‘k?’
- He doesn’t demand to know why he has certain ‘talents’ instead of others. He’s good at herding, for example, but doesn’t pine for a swimming pool.
- He never grumbles and complains when things don’t go his way.
- His greatest delight is spending time with me. If I interrupt his nap to go for a walk, he’s right there with me.
- He’s content to follow me wherever I go, without fighting me for the reins.
- He’s always thankful. For a full tummy, a scratch beneath the chin, a romp through the house.
- If I’m gone ‘too long’ by his book, he shreds a few newspapers, but never does he lie when I ask him about it.
- He never questions my judgment but assumes I must know what I’m talking about.
We could learn a lot from our dogs!
Of course, there are dogs and there are dogs. Some, through poor early socialization or bad breeding or whatever, are doomed to be less than they could have been. They don’t bond with their owners; they prefer the animal world to that of humans.
Others are like Mary Poppins, ‘practically perfect in every way.’ They seem attuned to you, to be the better part of you, keeping you grounded when life gets crazy, making you laugh through hardships, nursing you through illnesses, adoring you with their attentions.
Soul dogs, they’re called. And if you’ve ever been owned by one, you’ll know what I mean.
I don’t know whether all dogs go to Heaven when they die. I imagine, just like with people, there are some who won’t arrive there. But I’d bet my last dollar soul dogs go!
Who among us is as patient, as trusting, as kind, as unselfish, as a soul dog?
No, they can’t be born again, in the Christian sense. They can’t actively choose Jesus Christ. But perhaps God doesn’t call them to the same standards He calls us. Perhaps it’s enough that they do what they’re best at doing — loving, trusting, obeying.