A memoir dedicated to our sweet Grandpa, a symbol of love, trust, and perseverance who taught all of us that it’s never too late to find your happily ever after.
Read An Excerpt of All (my) Dogs Go to Heaven here:
AN UNBEARABLE BURDEN
Is your soul being crushed with grief after losing a pet? Do you feel like you don’t know how you will go on without your best friend? I know exactly how you feel, and I want to tell you that, first, it’s okay to not be okay. It hurts like hell.
Yes, I’m going to use the words heaven and hell on the same page because that’s the best description of what we go through when we lose a pet. The greatest mystery of our life is what happens when we die. And for me, the second greatest mystery is where do my pets go when they die? And what was the purpose of having them with me throughout my life if only to have to go through this unbearable pain of saying goodbye?
This book will help answer that for me and possibly for you. It is written as the road trip of my life and chronicles how my pets have gotten me through the deepest lows. This book is also a tribute to those animals and a light research into the age-old question…
Do dogs go to heaven?
Included are contributions from myself and other pet owners who feel that their dogs have sent them signs from the other side. Written from the point of view of a normal person just like you, this book is meant to comfort those of us who have lost pets who, to us, are not just animals but are deeply loved members of our family.
Having a pet is like being a parent. I even hate to use the term pet.
They are so much more than that.
We take responsibility for their life, and we strive to cover their physical and emotional needs. Research shows that losing a pet can be just as devastating, and sometimes even more so, as losing a relative. It only makes sense, as our pets love us unconditionally, providing loyalty and affection without expectation of anything in return past the simplicity of food, shelter, and the occasional belly rub. They also don’t judge you, criticize you, or refuse to speak to you for months on end like humans tend to do when they get their nose out of joint. They see us at our lowest lows and observe our weaknesses and are there as our biggest cheerleaders when we occasionally get things right in life.
Honestly, it marvels me how some people can live without a dog. Or a cat. Or some kind of pet. Where do they find that unconditional love that we all crave? I feel sorry for their loss of not knowing what it’s like to have that special gift.
Last year, I lost one of my fur-kids, and I can tell you without exaggeration that it felt like my world was suddenly dark. It’s been months, and there are still days that I grieve deeply and ask myself if I did the right thing by letting him go on to a place of no pain and sickness. Selfishly, I wanted to keep him with me. I’ll admit that.
Thankfully, I love him more than I love myself, and I had to give him relief.
His death filled me with guilt and sent me wondering once again if dogs go to heaven.
Do they have a soul? If so, where is my little man now? Is he around me, or is he waiting somewhere high in the clouds where I can’t see him? I just want someone to tell me that yes, he is in heaven.
If you are thinking that no one truly has the answer to that, you are right. I even asked a few Christian leaders, those who I feel have a legitimate knowledge of what goes on behind the secret curtain.
They were not of any help.
I understand why, though. No one can say that they know, with one hundred percent irrefutable proof, that our dogs will be in heaven.
That doesn’t stop us from trying to figure it out.
Over the last two decades, I’ve bought dozens of books about the afterlife and heaven. I’m a self-dubbed research fanatic, both for my work in writing novels, as well as my quest to just know more in general about the mysteries of the universe.
With every book I read on the subject, I first absorb it, and then I begin research to see what is written against the book or the author. I want to read both sides of the argument—do some people just know what’s over there? Do these authors have a special gift that I don’t have? Or are they, as they were called in the old days, charlatans?
As I conducted my research, I also struggled with the fact that I’m a Christian, though I now consider myself more spiritual than religious. My walk with God might not look like yours, and that’s fine. However, there are people in the church who say animals don’t have souls, which, by the way, crushes me when I hear them say that.
There was a time that I was in church two to three times a week. That time is not now, but I love the old analogy “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
I do believe there’s a God. And that one day I’ll meet him in paradise. Because of that, I needed to know for myself what the Bible had to say about animals in heaven so that I can know if my babies will be there.
My questions resulted in doing the research and combining it with short memoir excerpts of my life, as it connected to how my specific pets brought me through so many trials, that is now this book. I’ll warn you now, if you aren’t a fan of an author rambling on about their life experiences, then go ahead and shut the cover and ask for a refund. If all I did was spout what I found in the scriptures, it would be an awfully short and boring book. I think of my life as a very long road trip. And I’m inviting you along.
I also need to tell you that the parts of what I am going to share here are not of the rainbows and unicorn variety. I’ll bare part of my soul to you in the hopes that despite all that I’ve been through, you’ll agree that I’m not a victim.
I’m a survivor.
Now in my fifth decade of going around this planet, I look back and see there is one overall reaching lesson and reason that I got to this place and am with you now sharing a book about dogs going to heaven. There are a few other contributions included in the narrative of others who feel that their departed dogs have sent them a sign from the other side.
At the end of the book, you’ll find some home remedies for nursing your fur-child, as well as my recipe for home-cooked dog food that my pack goes crazy over. You’ll also find a grief guide that I hope will help you get through the first month after losing your fur-child.
I hope this book will give you comfort.
As for the big question of whether your dog goes to heaven or not, it is up to you to look through my research here and determine if you believe.
However, if there is a kernel of wonderment in your soul and the ability to walk in faith, then keep reading. I will give you my word, which means everything to me, that I won’t write anything in this book that I don’t myself believe is completely true.
On the other hand, I won’t try to convince you of anything.
So, take a seat and buckle up. I’m going to tell you about the dogs I’ve known in my life, what I have learned, and what I believe. The rest is up to you.
MY FACE MAY BE WHITE, BUT MY HEART IS PURE GOLD
Oliver paced the length of the yard, careful to avoid the low spots of standing water. Rain in the cold temperatures of December were the worst, and he had tired of standing outside the door, hoping to be let in to feel the warmth on his cold, wet feet. His clumsily healed and crooked jaw was proof that it wouldn’t benefit him to whine or scratch either. After fourteen long years, the shape of his malnourished body and pus-filled mouth showed that his care was the lowest of priorities for the family inside. He knew what he meant to them, and that his was a sad tale of unrequited love.
Though it pained him to give up, it was well past time. They would never return his loyalty. The pack mom and dad were too busy trying to wrangle the rowdiest of small humans, coming and going at all hours of the day and night, sometimes yelling and causing all sorts of ruckus. There was no room in their lives for a small little man as himself, no matter how well-behaved he believed himself to be. Things were different when he had first come to them, a fluffy and eager-to-please puppy, barely wet behind the ears and with the breath that made them giggle. They didn’t have little humans back then and claimed he was their everything.
There were tumbles and hugs, snuggles and smiles, all sprinkled with promises to protect him forever. He believed them and felt he’d found his pack. He pledged to return their devotion and protect them with everything he had.
Then he grew older, no longer able to tumble and play—his breath losing its sweetness. The little humans came, one after the other. Later, a young puppy took his place, and it was the center of attention, making him feel invisible until one day, he was told to just stay outside.
Those first nights he couldn’t believe they really meant to stay out there forever. Surely they would let him in. He had held up his part of the plan—he still loved and tried to protect them. Why did they suddenly no longer care for his well-being? Still yet, he waited patiently by the door. They would come to their senses. He could teach the young pup how to behave, give her all the advice she needed to be a good dog.
But the door never opened.
At least not for him.
Oliver would not be allowed to rejoin his pack. Didn’t they see that dogs weren’t loners? It was the worst life sentence you could have, to be cast out and left to spend every waking minute alone, but at least he could count himself lucky that he wasn’t sentenced to being tied up or chained to a tree.
They didn’t care if he wandered. But he didn’t. He waited.
Hoping they would love him again.
The summers were brutal in the humid Georgia temperatures, but the winters—well, they were something else entirely. In the light of the day, being of small stature, he was stalked by the hawks and had to be careful. At night the sounds of coyotes howling sent shivers of fear through him, and he huddled under anything he could find. And oh, the fleas. Even in the coldest of colds, he could not rid himself of the tormenting creatures as they burrowed and bit, depleting the slight reserves he barely had. He’d had to stop obsessing over them, though, because his first priority was simply staying alive.
To lay down and die would not be his legacy.
Now night would soon come again, and his old bones were no longer able to stand the bitter cold rumbling through them as he trembled and waited for the sun to rise.
He also had an epiphany. Someone out there needed him. And he had to find her. Today he would start his journey, and if night came too quickly, he would find somewhere else to sleep, hopefully somewhere safe from the packs that hunted for small creatures like him.
With one more look at the place he had given most of his life to, he headed for the driveway that led out. He would stay low and definitely wouldn’t venture onto the pavement. It was a country road and not much traffic, but an old dog knew a few things, and one of those things was that you didn’t test your courage against five thousand pounds of metal and motor.
He walked at least a mile and then tired and decided to rest.
With a stick in his mouth to gnaw at and ease at least some of his hunger pains, he settled into the high grass of the ditch. As he rested, he listened to the occasional car go by, and even heard the sound of a truckload of chickens being transported to the coops of doom. He said a prayer for them, even though they weren’t his acquaintances, but other chickens were, and he had said goodbye to many feathered friends over the years.
They’d done their best to teach him to survive, and he could hunt and peck insects with the best of them. He had even conquered the unique chicken noise in the back of his throat and, along with a certain strut, sometimes almost believed he was one of them. He also knew that he carried the deadly stench of the chicken farm, but that was a small price to pay for the bit of companionship he’d found there.
Suddenly he heard another car coming closer, and his ears perked up. Why was this car making his pulse race and his heart leap in joy?
He must take a look.
Slowly, because his old bones ached so very much, he stepped to the top of the road shoulder and peeked out.
The car passed him by, and his heart fell.
He was too late.
Sighing, he turned to go back and rest a bit more before he must remain awake all night to keep guard.
But wait—first he heard the car stop, and then he saw the red lights on its rear shine. They began to back up, straight toward him.
Before they could change their mind, and knowing he was jeopardizing his life, he stepped completely out onto the road in full view.
The car door opened, and a woman stepped out.
“Well, hello. Aren’t you a dapper little fellow?” she said softly.
She didn’t come closer, and he appreciated her respectful distance. He’d also learned that all humans weren’t to be trusted.
“You poor thing. You look like you’re starving.”
She didn’t mention how badly he smelled, and that saved his dignity more than he could ever let her know. Her voice was encouraging and perhaps tinged with a bit of pity. But it was kind, and he knew, yes—he could feel it—she was the one.
“Do you want to come with me, and we can figure out who you belong to?” she asked, kneeling down a few feet away, welcoming him to make the choice.
There really was no indecision on his part. Feeling lighter and happier than he had in years, he found his prance again as he made his way over to her and allowed her to reach down and pick him up. When he felt the gentleness in her touch and the way she cradled him close, despite his unkempt condition, there was no doubt.
She was his epiphany, and whether she knew it or not, she needed him.
Together, they climbed into the car, and he perched on her lap, looking straight out the front window in anticipation that whatever was next would be better than what was.
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