While we may not know what the future holds for our pets or why we experience such a love for them, we can know that God is good, and He is sovereign in the good gifts that He gives which will glorify His name.
A few days ago, we put down our dog of fifteen years. She had been with us since the beginning of our marriage, when our oldest was born, and for all the life events since then. She was a monumental part of our lives. To us, she wasn’t just a dog; she was a part of our family. The house we currently live in has never known a day without her. She brought me comfort on days when my heart was breaking, love when my anxious mind was out of control, and joy after a day of frustration.
What we walked through in life was important to her even though she didn’t fully understand; a pet has a way of sensing emotion. Even as we prepared to say goodbye and the tears were overwhelming, she patiently and lovingly licked my hand as if to comfort my aching heart and care for me even as she was dying. It took me back to over a decade ago when she laid on the bathroom floor next to me after my second miscarriage. She didn’t move from my side. Even on the mundane days, she was always by my side.
To some, the loss of a pet holds no meaning. “It's just a dog, or just a cat.” I may have felt that way prior to this experience. Now, having walked through this relationship, my mind and heart have been changed.
It’s Not Just a Dog or a Cat
For some of us, they are intertwined into our hearts and lives.
There are many schools of thought on where pets go when they die, but for those of us who stick to what Scripture says, this is one place where the Bible doesn’t definitively say. I am not here to debate that; it is not a doctrinal issue. I am, however, writing because there has been a great deal of emotions surrounding the loss of our beloved Daisy, and I wondered to myself if God cared that my heart was broken over our pet.
In God’s sovereignty, He Saw Fit for Us to Have Pets
God knew that we would love these pets; he also knew the level of hurt that we would feel at their loss. Scripture holds true even here that God is close to the brokenhearted. He doesn’t leave us without comfort, even when grieving for our pets. Our hearts may ache, but God is gracious. “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
I have been through a great deal of loss in my life: two parents, grandparents, miscarriages, friends, and now Daisy has made that list. Out of all of those losses, what we walked through in putting our dog down was one of the hardest things I have ever done. There is a special grief that comes with the loss of a beloved pet.
Pets Love Without Conditions and Desire to Comfort Us in Our Greatest Pains
As the days have gone on, I have come back to this same thought again and again; pets may be one of the closest things to helping us understand God’s love. There is nothing or anyone who can love us the way a pet does. They give a glimpse of God’s perfect love. No matter how horrible we feel, no matter what we have been through, they are there to bring comfort and peace.
A pet desires to be with you, love you, comfort you, and protect you, all without expectation of anything in return. No matter our day when we walk through the door, they are waiting. Daisy would spend her days laying close to wherever we were, in the office, under the kitchen table, in our bed; she was always found close by. When my husband would come home from work she would follow him from room to room in the house. Her presence was a sure thing.
Pets Paint a Perfect Picture of God’s Love and Grace
At the opening of Scripture, we see God’s incredible and perfect creation. He created everything from the grass on the ground to the earthworm that digs down into the dirt. Nothing was done haphazardly, and all that was created was considered “good.” This included the animals, and each one was brought to Adam to name. Think of that, Adam sitting on the ground and a tiger comes forward, there was no threat or danger, and Adam chose a name for it.
God’s Command Was to Care for Creation, to Honor What He Made
“Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Proverbs 12:10). Every bit of creation belongs to God. We are called to be good stewards of every gift from God, our children, our homes, our money, and our pets. Every “beast” of creation belongs to God, and He knows each one. “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine” (Psalm 50:10-11).
In the Gospels, Jesus reminds us that God loves even the smallest creatures in His creation. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6). Our value is greater than that of the creatures God created, but even the tiniest sparrow which may hold no value to us still has immense value to God.
We are distinct from animals and we can be sure that God is more concerned about his human creation than the animals. That does not mean, though, that God does not care for the loss of his created creatures.
Even Daisy, who lived a wonderful and healthy life, and was a gift to our home - God cares for her. He knew our family needed her love; He knew I needed it. She constantly reminded me that I was loved and not alone. She constantly reminded me of God’s goodness even when life was not good.
While we may not know what the future holds for our pets or why we experience such a love for them, we can know that God is good, and He is sovereign in the good gifts that He gives which will glorify His name. We can take comfort in that.
Photo Credit: ©Getty/John Howard
Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.