In the hound, God has gifted man a mighty gift, noble in concept and execution. When He charged Adam to take dominion over the earth and all that lies within, there must have been a special place of pride and love in the Almighty as he placed the hidden joys of the coming domesticated canine within man’s grasp. Dogs kept as pets bring hope and heartache, joy and sorrow, and a shadow of the greater joy yet to come for the Christian.
Give no platitudes; maturity and strength do not stem from falsehood. I find no evidence or support in the scriptures for a soul within a dog. Hunter is gone now. This crafty and cheerful and stubborn and loyal Golden Retriever I married into will not be standing in the new kingdom awaiting our arrival. To have a spirit is the breath of life God has given exclusively to man, and all of creation and the angels look upon us with wonder. Yet Hunter is a great gift of God. He is a picture of God’s love; integral to my wife’s coming of age, a testimony of the living God, and a marker of the curse of sin.
The bible is clear that the new kingdom to come is free of death and sorrow. The New Heaven and the New Earth will be rife with the creatures of creation. Those found within the Book of Life will live for eternity in the fully realized reality of Jesus, and even the nature of our pets will change. ‘Pet’ is scarce a word to describe what will be. All of creation groans under the weight of sin and longs of Christ to return. The dog we keep as a pet now is a pale yet delightful shadow of the age to come, groaning and longing himself. Creation, and canines within, will be fully realized. My relationship will be fully realized. I propose that the barriers of communication and understanding will be razed. The glimpses of understanding that we see now are only snatches of the song to come. Maybe in the City of God I will have a buffalo and an echidna with my Anatolian Shepherd dog, while my neighbor sips tea upon his caribou.
Hunter, like most pups, had two eyes. At the ripe age of ten, he developed a wart centered on one pupil. Knowing our budget limit of $400, Jenny looked at the +$1200 appraisal with dismay. Physically, the rest of his body was good, the body of a dog three years his junior. Yet every time Hunter looked at you tail a-wagging, the malignant cornea capper would look right back, growing in scope and magnitude as the days turned into weeks. Cost effective remedies unavailable, we discussed euthanasia to cut off the painful process. One day I noticed a reduction in the growth as I was getting ready for work, and I texted Jenny about it later, and she agreed it was improving. She had prayed to Jesus over his eye for healing, and within two days it was completely healed without any medical attention beyond the initial diagnosis. This afternoon, as the life within a now thirteen-year-old Hunter faded by injection and old age, those eyes looked at me from the table. The eyes conveyed pain from kidney failure, but also a reminder that my God is alive, the Spirit is active, and Jesus does know us as individuals. God reveals His glory in the 10,000 small joys in the days of a dog’s life, and the healing that secures hope.
Death comes to both man and beast. It is a gift of God that our life spans several rounds of our pets. In young life, a puppy is joy in discovery and the hope that proper training will bring out the full potential. Youthful energy and a desire to go on walks keep the responsible owner young. Their vigilance over the bumps that come in the night brings us rest. The slow and methodical elder age and the resurgence of ‘independent thinking’ are themselves a reminder of what comes upon man in the twilight years. The death itself is a consequence of man’s rebellion against providence, the wages of our sin. Redemption has come for Man by the Christ on the cross. Salvation and new life are there for those who follow Jesus, but while he waits for the wheat and the tares to choose and bear fruit, creation suffers. Until judgment and all is made new creation will continue to suffer. God is sacrificing his good creation to give us more time to come to Him. One day, perhaps soon, this will end and man can rejoice fully with creator and creation once again and for all time.
Greater days are yet to come.
Today, Hunter has passed.
Today, I will value Harmon and Sullivan a bit more.
Today, I know God loves us, each as a person and not only in the collective.
Hunter’s time has come.
May the time of His return come soon.