Anyone who follows my other blog will know by now that I am putting one of my cats to sleep due to a serious illness. He is 16, and has been having some serious gastrointestinal issues for a few months, causing him to loose a considerable amount of weight. Treatment of some of the suspected illnesses has been unsuccessful, and the most humane thing to do at this point is not allow him to suffer any more and to euthanize him.
Our kids (who are 6 and 8) are having to face death in a way that is very memorable. I have had Perceval since before I ever met my wife, and he has always been there as long the kids have been alive. Any other deaths in our family have happened before they were born or when they were too young to remember very well. So this is kind of tough for them. My daughter cried for a full 30 minutes when my wife first told her. They know and seem to understand what is happening and why we have to do it, but it's still not easy.
One of the things that they have asked about is if we will get to be with him again in Heaven. From a theological perspective, that's hard to explain, especially to a young child. The Bible doesn't explicitly say that animals won't be in Heaven, but it's also clear that only humans have a soul and therefore only humans can obtain salvation. People are a special creation of God, and the only beings who can worship and have a close relationship with Him. If you can only get into Heaven through salvation, and only humans can be saved, then animals don't have a place in Heaven. Talking about "doggie heaven" or "kittie heaven" may sound nice, but it's not Biblical.
But somehow that doesn't seem satisfying to me and many other pet lovers. Our pets are so much a part of our lives that we can't imagine not having them back at some point. I asked this of a pastor once, and he said something that has stuck with me. God loves us very much, and wants us to be happy. Heaven will be incredible, and we will have everything we need to be eternally happy. For most of us, simply being in God's direct presence will be overwhelming and will be enough. But if having our pets will also make us happy, then God will provide that for us.
Biblical? Probably not. But it's nice to think about. And it's also nice to know that God will make us happier than we can ever imagine!