Revisiting a dead dog
Special to the Daily
Jimmy is a cop from Salt Lake; Paul, an artist who lives somewhere in cyber-land; and Donna a school teacher from Maine. As far as I know, the only things they have in common are three powerful opinions about heaven and hell and the fact that they all wrote to me.
A few years ago, I wrote a column about encountering two dogs on the side of an empty snow-covered ranch road”one alive, one dead. The living dog was sitting quietly and staring at his dead comrade. I got out of my truck and sat next to the living animal while it quietly considered his dead friend. After about 10 minutes, with one last look, the still-breathing creature trotted away without a backwards glance.
After describing the scene to my readers, I posed the question of what had occurred. Had the living dog been waiting for his friend’s soul to depart for dog-heaven, or perhaps did the survivor mistakenly assume his buddy was going to wake-up and move on? Another thought was maybe both dogs were hit ” one died, one was dazed” and the living animal, once it regained its senses, ran away.
The romantic spiritualist in me would love to think that the living pet was waiting for the departure of the soul of his friend to leave the flesh and blood container and go where dead dogs go. If that was the case it would be much easier to believe in a human heaven, nirvana, next life, world without mortgages.
The column about the two dogs ran a few years ago in a few local papers but I always thought I could have written it better. Early this winter, I got the chance. A small East Coast magazine asked that I rewrite it and print it in their publication. Since the column ran nationally, I’ve received several e-mails from strangers all offering their thoughts ” three in the last few days.
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Jimmy, the detective from Utah, believes in a tribal Native American approach to life, nature and God. He believes there is a human and animal instinct to hearken back to our species origin and our relationships to our own kind and earth mother. He felt that the living dog instinctively knew his friend was leaving this world and was standing watch until the soul departed.
Paul the artist was unabashedly spooky. He felt that there was only one flesh and blood dog; he thought the other dog I saw was a ghost. After exchanging a few e-mails with him, he admitted that he thinks it is possible that lost souls walk amongst the living and interact with us. I’m not sure where Paul lives, but it would be fun to visit him on Halloween.
The school teacher Donna, like me, is a recovering Catholic. She wrote that she was raised to believe that only godly humans go to heaven ” no dogs allowed ” the less righteous of us go to hell or heli-skiing in New Jersey. She confessed she no longer believed that.
Disregarding the Catholic dogma, Donna believes that every living thing, when the heart stops beating, releases its energy to replenish the earth’s life-force. She said that she thinks that in all that’s living, there are the spirits of once-living animals, plants and humans. Donna’s contention was that the spirit of the dead dog was floating out of the carcass, like smoke, and that his living friend was watching as his pals’ spirit hovered, then left.
Donna didn’t say where and what she taught, but I’d wager it wasn’t bible study.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one or all of those theories were correct? How differently would we all live our lives if we knew with absolute certainty that this life was just a stopping-off point of a longer journey? If we knew without question that there was a heaven, a Great Spirit, next life, or souls of our forbearers living amongst us, I believe many of us would live much differently.
If this life was simply a wonderful step on a blissful journey there would be no worry of death, money or lost opportunities. There are some who contend that they do know/believe with all certainty.
It has been my experience that if they believed with the convictions that they profess, they would emanate a simple peace rather than a bombastic self-righteousness. If we knew with spot-on, dead-center-conviction that there is a Divine Entity, God, Great Spirit, we could let him worry about church and state, gay unions, intelligent design and the argument of ‘choice’ ” freeing us mere mortals to simply love and respect each other.
But that’s all theory and speculation. Paul, Jim and Donna, you and I can only guess at what those two dogs know for sure.
Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com .