All dogs do not go to heaven but most dogs have some heaven in them. Sasha

It looks like my dear friend Sasha is in her last days. She has stopped eating, and her cancer, which until a week ago did not seem to affect her, seems to have run its course. She has the anorexia typical of end-stage cancer, and is having a lot of trouble getting around. Her breathing has become labored. My wife called today and offered to take her to be put down while I am at work, but I need to say goodbye to her. I plan to celebrate liturgy tomorrow, then take my friend and companion to the vet later that morning.


Two weeks ago she was cavorting with her new companion, Princess, a 1 year old miniature schnauzer, and the two have become best friends. Sasha has always loved people, but the Akita in her (she is half Akita, half Border Collie)  has always been very dominant with other dogs, especially females. When I was offered to take Princess home, from a parishioner who cannot keep her anymore, I brought Sasha to the house, and she met Princess on the little dogs’ territory. They became fast friends. Princess is not your typical Schnauzer – she doe not bark, except very occasionally when excited and playing with Sasha.


I have watched these two play wrestle many happy times. My wife is probably tired of me mentioning how much I love to watch them play (almost as much as my bragging about my resting heart rate of 40!) 


I knew Sasha had cancer (a mediastinal growth) for over a year, but she has still had a lot of vigor for an old girl, and only a couple weeks ago, she was running in the woods with my grandchildren and I.


I do not have any illusions about dogs. I don’t have any patience for all that new age stuff. They do not go to heaven, and they are not angels. They have a soul, as all animals do, but their soul is not eternal. When they die, they pass out of existence, but while they live, the exceptional ones are a great gift from our creator, and Sasha has been so good to me so many times, than I have thought of her as a kind of “guardian angel”. 


I have been through a lot of life with Sasha. I got her from the pound in Plano, only days before I was to go on a trip to Russia. I was in pretty big trouble for this, because, shall we say, I made a unilateral decision. When I saw Sasha at the pound, she was an absolutely beautiful , alert 1-2 year old dog, in a large cage with at least 8 other dogs. As I walked to the cage, all the dogs were against the cage, barking. Sasha was not barking, but just looked at me, and, I do not want to be too mystical here – we (Sasha and me) just knew.


Sasha likes everybody, but she has always been my dog. Most of her life, if I was home, she wanted to be with me. Only lately, did she not as readily get up and come join me when I went into my study, but she always came when called.
             I believe dogs teach us a lot about Christianity. They are loyal, obedient, and they always forgive. I have had plenty of difficult times in the past 10 or so years, and Sasha always seemed to know. When I was really down, she would come and join me on the couch. Normally she did not like to sit on the couch, but on the floor beside me. She has always been a constant in my life. I am not much of a constant – I have good days and bad ones, but Sasha always had good days, and was always chose to not leave my side when she sensed I was not doing so well.


For Sasha, I am grateful to God. She was there for me in some dark times. I am glad that god’s love is so powerful that is can even be expressed in the ways of senseless animals.


I will miss Sasha, and in some ways I do not need such a special companion anymore, but I hope that someday I can find one that is like her.



Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


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5 Responses to “All dogs do not go to heaven but most dogs have some heaven in them. Sasha”

  1. Justinaq says:

    Father bless, one doesn't have to be New Age to figure animals continue existing. First off, no one is "eternal" that means without beginning and without end, except God. "immortal" is sometimes used to mean this in referring to God, and "death" can be anything from the dropping off of the body, the denser part of the soul, from the soul, leaving the soul operating in a truncated, diminished condition, to being alive and kicking but cut off from God.
    given that Heaven is called paradise, which means garden, and a garden is going to have plants, flowers and butterflies, what kind of a barren mess of a garden wouldn't, it would have animals also.
    Genesis says Adam became a living soul when the breath of life was breathed into him, and also says that all with the breath of life in them died in the Flood, specifying animals among them. There is no clear distinction made. The desperate effort to interpret our being made in God's image as strictly spiritual seems like a fleshless pagan gnostic infection idea. We seem, as a species, to unite in us features physical and mental that refer back to God in ways no other animal does. And our role was to be a superintendant over nature under God.

  2. Justina says:

    I forgot to add, heaven is called paradise, as is the new heavens and the new earth after the general resurrection of the dead. Paradise means garden. What kind of garden has no plants, and even butterflies? If plants then animals.

  3. Deborah says:

    I think animals are often angels in disguise.  No, I don't mean angels as in the bodiless hosts–but 'messengers of God' sent to help, comfort and teach us.  I have learned many important things from my furry 'babies'.. 
    I have always said that having to say good-bye to a beloved pet was like paying at the end for the privilege of having had them in my life—and as hard as it always was, I've always felt like I got a bargain.

  4. David says:

    I'm truly sorry for the loss of your companion Father for as you know, I have always loved my little furry, four legged chainsaws. They provide comfort during heartache, for as you said, "they know". They entertain us with their antics and have a boundless enthusiasm for life. Their love is as unconditional as they are honest and loyal.
    Dogs don't care about most of the things that consume people's lives, expensive cars and homes or the size of the bank account, big or small. They will sacrifice their own lives protecting their humans and most of all, they just want to be with us because that's what makes them happy…. and that's what makes them so very special.
    They are a gift from God and if we pay attention, we might actually learn something of how to be, from the one who loves us most purely, this side of Heaven.
    In Christ,

  5. virginia anne says:

    I am sorry about your loss of a dear friend.  I have loved God's goodness in letting us enjoy his creatures.  I miss each of my babies and remember them dearly.

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