Though this is hard, I must take a few moments to say why I have been away for a few days longer than I'd intended. We lost our little dog, Lucy, on Wednesday. She drowned in my mother's pool while we ran an errand. We had done this many times before; we'd leave her out on the lanai with my mother's dog, Ernie, and we'd leave the screen door open so they would have opportunities to be out in the fenced-in yard as well as in the cool shade of the lanai.
Lucy was a Westie - a terrier with short, little legs. Terriers are earth dogs, but though I knew she didn't prefer water, I didn't know she couldn't swim... or maybe she could and hit her head or something. Of course, we'll never know...
So, despite my postitve outlook of late (which has absolutely helped me through), there has been great sadness in our family this week. And I suppose it goes without saying, but I wish I had thought... please never leave your dogs, - or any other pets for that matter - like your children, unattended by swimming pools. Please let my Lucy be a reminder of that, so other families will not need to know this regret and heartache.
Despite the sadness of this news - this unfortunate post - I can say that we are healing. I have been remembering Lucy's silliness - how she would run around in circles like mad, all hyper and excited, if anyone so much as lifted her and inch off the ground. She was not a lap dog by any stretch; she was uncomfortable being held and I think this nervous energy would send her off frantically like a little wind-up toy any time her feet weren't on the ground!
She was far from perfect; we all had a lot to learn about patience and what it meant to be a family with a dog. But she was a good dog and a loyal dog, the way I believe all dogs are if you simply love them... and we did. :)
Today, I had a happy thought and one that has brought me another measure of comfort. Though I know this is completely theologically incorrect, today I had a vision of my little dog with little wings. My little spirit doggie able to flit from our house - watching us work in the yard, checking up on us and the cats and the bird - to the houses of the others she loved: my mother's place and my mother-in-law's place, where her other dog friends, Ernie and Tiffany live.
I know animals don't become angels when they die any more than people do, but I do believe (unlike some) that animals do have spirits. I believe this is supported in Scripture. I also believe that the folks who came up with the idea that it is a lack of a soul that differentiates us from the animals may just be the same people who think of animals as things to be exploited at whim by humans for their own purposes. If you have known an animal, you would know that they are each unique individuals that show love, fear, anger, embarassment, and compassion, just as we do. These traits, by the way, are not limited to the animals we choose to keep as pets, of course, but to all animals, including the ones many choose not to know by not naming them and having others kill them for human consumption. Whatever your dietary choices, though, it would seem that most every person over the course of a lifetime will hear remarkable stories of animal bravery or kindness or compassion that we simply cannot explain. These stories are not limited to certain species and because they reveal personality and compassion, I do believe that animals have spirits.
Animal spirits may not be like ours - not as elevated or complex and not always (though not never) revealing conscience. Perhaps what really separates them from us is self-actualization and the ability to develop complex languages, rather than lack of a soul.
ANYway... though I don't believe my Lucy really does have little wings, it does give me a pleasant visual of imagining her. I do believe she is in Heaven and I expect to see her there someday. And I suppose she just might be able to check in on her Earth family and friends from time to time, when she's not too busy getting underfoot of the real angels and racing among the clouds.