Our family recently watched The Stray, and the movie is quite a tear-jerker (spoiler alert). Although it’s very clean and enjoyable, it will likely raise serious questions from kids about what happens when a family pet dies. Do dogs go to heaven? Do cats? What about goldfish? What will you tell children when they inquire about their beloved departed animals?
Because let’s be honest, for most families, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. For one reason or another, a family pet will die. And when it does, what are parents supposed to say? How do you answer all your kids’ questions about death, eternity, and if they’ll ever get to see their pet again? How can you comfort children who ask do dogs go to heaven?
Losing a family pet can be difficult, especially for a child. But it can also prepare a child to cope with the struggles of life and the realities of death that they’re certain to face as they age.
Whether your family has experienced this or have yet to, here are a few thoughts to help you discuss this sensitive subject with kids (or to file away for future use).
Do Dogs Go to Heaven? 4 Points to Consider
1. God created pets for our enjoyment because He loves us.
A family pet has the potential to be so enjoyed that they often become “one of the family.” We connect with them emotionally, and they bring us great joy. This is a beautiful reminder of the good gifts God has given us to enjoy in His creation.
In Genesis 1:24-25, after God created the “living creatures,” He saw that they were good. And in the next verse, 26, he tells us God made them for man. But not only did God give animals to us to enjoy. He gave us dominion over them as well—Genesis 1:28. As humans, we are overseers of not only our beloved pets but over all of God’s creation.
2. God created animals differently from humans.
Genesis 1:7 God breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul.
God has placed eternity in the hearts of human beings. He has not done so with animals. Animals are unlike humans in that God created us with a soul, an understanding of right and wrong, and an ability to connect personally with our Creator. In addition:
- People are conscious of the future. Animals live only for the moment.
- We can understand the concept and consequences of our actions upon our future. Animals can live only for what is most pleasant here and now. (Their #1 thought is their next meal.)
- We were created for a higher purpose that matters for all eternity. Animals serve one primary purpose—for the benefit and enjoyment of mankind.
Just as God created animals different from us, God’s love for them is also different from His love for us. Mankind is God’s prize creation. This is why God sent His only Son to the cross to save the souls of men.