My wife and I were given a beautiful Bichon Frise 15 and a half years ago by my parents. He was a peculiarly kind dog. He loved people. At the time, he was a year or so old-still a puppy. What a joy this dog brought into our lives and marriage. What a great disposition. This dog was the best. I always loved it when he would dream and bark in his sleep. I would wake and wonder what exactly was he dreaming about? We have been married for almost 16 years. We had Bentley for the duration of our marriage.
Yesterday, we had to put him down. We are heartbroken! To say that the house is empty, is an understatement. The home is such a reminder of this dog, that one cannot escape his history in it. I went to the gym today and afterwards, was looking for a reason not to go home right away. We are struggling, to say the least.
A little history on our Bentley: In the last year, it got to the point where ‘Bentley’ was struggling from age. He was diagnosed with Cushings Syndrome two years ago; He was incontinent of both urine and feces and when he had to move his bowels, it was always extremely painful-he would actually yelp during the process. He had a painful bone spur in one of his back legs. His front legs were bowing outward compensating for this problem with his hind legs. His eyesight was failing as well as his hearing. He often would walk into things. He was still eating like a champ-it seems like that was all he was living for. The Cushings made him insatiably thirsty. Since he refused to let us any longer groom him, his beard was long and every time he took a drink, the water was everywhere. So in addition to the urine puddles, we had trails of water everywhere. Now, please understand that we did work with him for over two years. We had a large stack of towels close by and at times there were a dozen towels on the floor. I kept a mop out in the open in the kitchen to wipe up his spittle as it was needed. It wasn’t his fault and we knew it. It saddened us that he had gotten to this place. In the midst of all this, Bentley did have sporadic moments when he would be playful but we were always concerned that he would hurt himself in the process so we would yell at him to stop and calm down. He has hurt himself in the last years from him not recognizing his limitation. One other major issue with Bentley urinating all over the home was that we have tile floors. My mother in-law is 76 yrs old and lives w/ us. All of us were slipping in the urine. I was scared to death someone was going to fall and break their neck. I was really fearful of this. In my opinion, Bentley was close to that day. If not now, it would be in the next 6 months. I found myself praying that he would pass in his sleep as it would make it so much easier, or at least I thought. Whatever the case, my family discussed the options on more than one occasion. My wife was not ready yet to move forward. Ultimately, after complaining about slipping in his urine a number of times, she agreed that the danger outweighed the contrasting point of keeping him any longer. At one point, my daughter tried putting a diaper on him; given his feisty attitude, he chewed it off immediately.
Consider all these heartbreaks as a sanctifying knife in the Lord’s hand, excising the dross in our live. God uses all things to our benefit. It is painful. On one hand we want the heartache gone and on the other, we want to keep it as it is so dear to us as the person or animal was. We’re not ready yet, but we are.
One of the valuable things I learned from this beautiful creature is that God loves us so deeply that he decreed that this dog would enrich our lives. The love he poured out on us is convicting. Always, with no conditions. Faithful. When we were sick, he knew it. When we were stressed, he was stressed. He was a protector. A ‘mama’s boy’! But yea, God loved us so much he graced us with a great tribute of His love toward us in this dog and we are so, so thankful.
The other thing I learned was contrasting this love I had for this dog with my love for God. It was pale in comparison; again, I was highly convicted. I didn’t really know how much I loved Bentley until he was no longer there. I tell my wife that I am shortsighted in this regard; maybe it’s because I am a man. This frightens me on a couple of fronts. Firstly in regard to the command to love the Lord with all our hearts, all our souls and minds. I believe mankind does not fulfill this command, ever. We get out of bed in the morning and the first thing on our minds is coffee. God fits into the equation, generally, but not how it should be. We are faulty and dusty in our walks and often times take God’s love for granted. In this, I repent. Though my heart is heavy, I must remember not to break the 2nd commandment and make Bentley an idol. I must pursue this love for God in light of this truth and give it preeminence. Having said all of that, I need to restructure my thinking, even in light of the pain. God is the God of all comfort and we are to worship no one but Him. The other issue that frightens me is how I will react when a human being passes who I love? At this point, I am having some anxiety attacks over my dog, never mind my parents, wife or children. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how to prepare myself for this. I simply will hold fast that God will prepare me and given me grace in that circumstance. The pain that death brings is crippling and I will never ever react cavalierly to me fellow man when they tell me they are in the throws of such a circumstance and condition. I know now.
This has opened my eyes to prayer. In the first way, that I need to pray more often for those I love. We never know when the day comes when the Lord calls them home. We need to consider the gospel and tell those closest to us, those without the gospel that they must believe on Christ. None of us want any of these we love to perish. So, we dig in. Also, I have heard many times people tell me that a loved one passed or their animals passed. I told them I would pray for them in response to their situation and I have. But not with sweat, sharing in their suffering. God forgive me for not sharing in the grief. A friend recently lost his child. I believe he was 1 and a half years old. Did this grieve me? Yes, but not absolutely. This friend told me his heart was heavy. I had no idea. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way comparing the death of my dog with this child as there is no comparison. But given the pain I am suffering under, I can only imagine his family’s grief. I prayed for him, but I did not pray enough nor did I share in the suffering. In this I was wrong and my prayer is that God reveals to me this grief and allows me to share in it as the grace allows.
lastly, the idea that we will never meet again. This grieves me greatly as this is exactly what my faith is about. That being, that I will still see those who are in Christ in eternity. As a reformed believer, we understand that man was made in God’s image. Animals are not. We know that in the book of Ecclesiastes it says that the souls of men go upward and the animals down, i.e. into the ground. Will there be animals in Heaven? I believe so. I won’t go into the scriptures and treatments I believe support this idea, but thats what I conclude. However, will my Bentley be there? Most likely not, from what I can tell. This greatly burdens me. So much so that I have to change the channel when I begin mulling it over in my head. So painful.
Isa 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
Isa 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Isa 11:3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
Isa 11:4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Isa 11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
Isa 11:6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
Isa 11:7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Isa 11:8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
Isa 11:9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
Isa 11:10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples–of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
And the lion shall eat straw like the bullock:
And dust shall be the serpent’s meat.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
ecc 3:10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. 11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
Ecc 3:19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.
Ecc 3:20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
Ecc 3:21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?
‘The Lord himself rides a horse doesn’t he? Revelation 19:10’
Matthew Henry on Isa. 11.6:
- That there should be great peace and tranquillity under his government; this is an explication of what was said in ch. ix. 6, that he should be the Prince of peace. Peace signifies two things:–
1. Unity or concord, which is intimated in these figurative promises, that even the wolf shall dwell peaceably with the lamb; men of the most fierce and furious dispositions, who used to bite and devour all about them, shall have their temper so strangely altered by the efficacy of the gospel and grace of Christ that they shall live in love even with the weakest and such as formerly they would have made an easy prey of. So far shall the sheep be from hurting one another, as sometimes they have done (Ezek. xxxiv. 20, 21), that even the wolves shall agree with them. Christ, who is our peace, came to slay all enmities and to settle lasting friendships among his followers, particularly between Jews and Gentiles: when multitudes of both, being converted to the faith of Christ, united in one sheep-fold, then the wolf and the lamb dwelt together; the wolf did not so much as threaten the lamb, nor was the lamb afraid of the wolf. The leopard shall not only not tear the kid, but shall lie down with her: even their young ones shall lie down together, and shall be trained up in a blessed amity, in order to the perpetuating of it. The lion shall cease to be ravenous and shall eat straw like the ox, as some think all the beasts of prey did before the fall. The asp and the cockatrice shall cease to be venomous, so that parents shall let their children play with them and put their hands among them. A generation of vipers shall become a seed of saints, and the old complaint of homo homini lupus–man is a wolf to man, shall be at an end. Those that inhabit the holy mountain shall live as amicably as the creatures did that were with Noah in the ark, and it shall be a means of their preservation, for they shall not hurt nor destroy one another as they have done. Now, (1.) This is fulfilled in the wonderful effect of the gospel upon the minds of those that sincerely embrace it; it changes the nature, and makes those that trampled on the meek of the earth, not only meek like them, but affectionate towards them. When Paul, who had persecuted the saints, joined himself to them, then the wolf dwelt with the lamb. (2.) Some are willing to hope it shall yet have a further accomplishment in the latter days, when swords shall be beaten into ploughshares.
Some random thoughts on animals:
Did animals die prior to the fall?
If they were in the garden, why would we think they will not be with us in glory?
if God knows our frames and appeals to those frames by grace, i.e. He gives us pleasant weather, water to drink, food to eat, creativity, etc., why would He not bless us in glory with the same? One might say, “Scott, in glory, we will not have any need for animals; our minds will be fixed on the glory of God and praise and worship. Will all of our time in Heaven spent just worshipping or will we have occupations? When I say occupations, I do not mean like jobs we have here on Earth. But given that there will be leadership, one would think that we will have assigned positions and tasks. For example, if we will gather as the church, ill we not need organization, etc? If we will, and remember, in Christ’s glorified body he hungered and ate fish and honey till he was satiated; hence, we will have desire to eat and we will hunger for nutrition (apparently). What will we eat? As mentioned, Jesus ate fish. A fish is an animal.
As well: ““Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God’” Mark 14:25
In creation, God creates the animals and says that is is ‘good’. During the flood, he saves some of the animals. Granted, these were for Noah’s posterity and the perpetuation of his family, but none the less. He could have destroyed them all.
Consider that there will be rewards in glory. We can see that some people will be rewarded in degree. Some will be called ‘great’ for the work they did:
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
I just read something by John Piper where he feels as if eternity will have animals, to which he agrees. However, he goes on to say that to love an animal to the extent one feels the deep need to have that animal in Heaven with himself may be ‘perilous’ to your faith. I don’t really know what he means as it being ‘perilous’ and he doesn’t go into this aspect any further. I understand the idoatry that may be interpreted in the midst of this need, but beyond that, I have no idea. The point is well taken however. All I can add to this is that God has made us creatures with the capacity to love deeply. It is our nature. It is not like any of us planned it this way. This dog got under my skin in a way I couldn’t plan or deter. It just happened. Did God decree that I love him this deeply? I would have to say yes. For what use? For my well being and betterment, obviously
Here is a you tube of my buddy:
Here is a excellent treatment by Peter Hammond on the subject. I encourage you to read it: http://www.slideshare.net/frontfel/will-animals-be-in-heaven