Do Dogs Go to Heaven? Just Walk This Way...

Picture of Mali, a Siberian Husky

It was a simple photo memorial hanging from a tree on one of my favorite sections of the Appalachian Trail: In memory of Mali.

Millie, Winky and I were out hiking in the woods (no bear this time) on what could only be characterized as the Platonic ideal of a perfect early-autumn New England day. For those of you who have been following the positive thinking blog of my colleague—and Winky’s owner—Guideposts executive editor Amy Wong, you already know that she totaled her knee at the gym early in the summer and has not been able to walk Winky while she recovers from surgery. So Julee and I take Winky on weekends whenever we can to help Amy out with the ordeal of arranging dog walking and to give Winky a break from the city.

We came across Mali’s picture at a stream crossing, attached to a tree. It was laminated to protect it and said, “Hike on with joy! A wish from Mali, a Siberian Husky who walked this way.”

I have probably lost more dogs than close friends in my life, though that will no doubt change as I get older. But there is something about the death of an animal whom you’ve loved and understood deeply that always stays with you, a yearning for them, a void in the soul that is never completely filled.

Someone once asked me if I believed animals have souls and if they went to heaven. That question is well above my theological pay grade but I do know that it is certainly within God’s power to do whatever gives us joy and causes us to love him even more. He wouldn’t put this kind of love in us for another living thing, he would not allow us to reach across the barrier of species to make a connection as deep and profound and loving as any we will ever have in life, only to make it transitory.

So that is my mantra for the weekend: Hike with joy, with a prayer in my heart for a Siberian Husky who walked this way.

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