Dogs don’t believe in Jesus. They believe in eating. They believe in chasing after cats, birds, and squirrels. And licking, and running, and jumping, and sniffing, and barking, and playing, and snuggling, and loving. But mostly they believe in food.
Cody’s last weeks were spent caring only about food. She wouldn’t watch TV with us. It hurt her ears. She went outside only to use the facilities. Sometimes she didn’t make it there. More often than not, she needed help getting up. She had devised a way of spreading her front legs and slowly inching her way down on the tile without clonking her head and body. But even the most delicious, meaty aroma could not make her back legs work to pursue it. So we took her food to her wherever she was on a silver platter. Well, maybe the platter wasn’t silver – but what 17-year old labrador does not deserve having room service? And just as we spoil our grandchildren and grandpets whenever their parents aren’t around, we let her have everything: fried pickles, BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy, cookies, pretzels, you name it. And for dessert – chocolate – lots of it. Why not? Maybe we could avoid that eventual dreaded trip to the vet.
Our best friend, Harvey’s dog, Max, is an extremely picky eater. He eats only gourmet treats, dog food smothered in gravy, and a certain brand of chicken jerky. Not Cody. The only thing she would NOT eat is celery. She spit it out like it was poison. Everything else she snarfed up as if there would be no food tomorrow – or ever. As a younger dog, she would snap a ripe tomato right off the garden vine or grab a freshly-picked apple from the top of the basket and start chomping. Cody did not have what is known as a “soft mouth.” Her mouth was so far from “soft,” that I always had to remind her to “be polite” if I was hand-feeding her, or my finger would definitely suffer. This became more pronounced in the latter weeks of her life, so we simply fed her from the silver platter (or the floor).
She loved to eat. Rather than drooling in anticipation like a normal dog, her teeth would begin to chatter when she knew she was about to get the stuff that made that marvelous aroma she had been smelling for what to her must have seemed like hours. In the past, when we were eating away from home, I would find myself picking up a morsel from my plate to offer to Cody, quickly realizing that she was not there. That is one of the many things I will miss about her. Whatever will I do with my uneaten crusts?
I will have to figure that one out, plus how I will fill the void now that she is gone. Because she is that – gone. Today we made that vitriolic visit to the vet and watched Cody slip into a peaceful slumber. A cold, dark, forever sleep – something to be feared, I believed when I was a child – before I comprehended the goodness of Jesus. Is Cody afraid? Is she in a perpetual state of nonexistence, or is she in Heaven? After all, she didn’t believe in Jesus.
I must sheepishly admit to never having read the entire Bible. And even if I had (my son would be quick to point out), I would not remember it, anyway. So I don’t know if the Bible says anything about dogs and an afterlife. I do know that in Isaiah 65:25 it says, “the wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.” Is there hope for dogs? Not being at all a theologian, I am going to go out on a limb and invent my own DOGma. Yes, I believe dogs do go to Heaven. First of all, the wolves, the lambs, and the lions (and oxen if they are there, too) need some other animals to keep them company. Secondly, Jesus (even though I have yet to meet him face to face), has to be the kindest person I know. My mother always told me to not attach myself to people who do not like dogs. Jesus liked all outcasts. He certainly must have liked dogs. In fact, if He loves you and me, He has to LOVE dogs. Because Jesus IS love. And dogs are love. Cody was love. She is definitely in Heaven running and playing and loving all those she knows there, waiting for the time when Mike and I arrive with something for her to EAT. Amen.