Monday, January 30, 2012

Ruminating on animals and the afterlife!

Every Sunday I enjoy reading “Ask the pet editor,” written by Scott Craven, in the Arizona Republic. This Sunday, January 29, 2012, a reader related his belief that after his beloved dog passed away, he’d followed his hunches and found a brand new puppy that he believes to be his old dog reincarnated. In his usual entertaining fashion, Scott assured the reader that he won’t presume to pass judgment on such a personal belief. He then invited others to share their feelings and experiences regarding pet reincarnation. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share our story:

Dear Scott,

Oh, I hope you don’t regret requesting feedback on domestic animal reincarnation, especially from all the really weird cat people–like me!

My husband, Jim, and I consider ourselves to be spiritual, rather than sacerdotal, so our religious affiliation is with a progressive group that respects all beliefs and encourages independent thinking. We believe in the possibility that traditional church teachings might be wrong regarding animals and the afterlife. Though we don’t feel comfortable settling on any particular tenet in that regard, we like to imagine that if humans can look forward to an afterlife, then the spirits of our animal friends continue on after they leave this plane. That could mean they experience a series of successive material existences, as in reincarnation. Or, as western tradition says about humans, they could pass on to a paradisaical existence--‘heaven,’ if such a place exists.

By not encumbering ourselves with the doctrine of certainty, we comfort ourselves with the belief that one day we’ll again see Ditto, our precious 8-year-old black cat who succumbed on a sunny afternoon last August to a sudden respiratory infection. We also dream of the day we’ll be able to hold Ray Lee, Booger, and Clarence, who lived long and died peacefully in our arms; and Baxter, Tina, Garfield, and Boyfriend, who disappeared to unknown fates; and all the other precious pets who shared so much of their love with us during their sadly short earthly sojourns.

But do their spirits return to us before we pass on to join them? We won’t claim to know that for sure, but we have witnessed one strange phenomenon: Shortly after we say the final ‘goodbye’ to one of our fur-babies, we notice that one or more of our surviving ‘children’ seem to adopt some peculiar personality trait(s) that we enjoyed in our recently ‘late’ fur-child, trait(s) that the surviving feline never seemed to practice before.

Thus, after Ditto left us, our little black-and-white kitty, Obama--so named because he walked into our house literally off the streets at 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4, 2008--suddenly began to climb into my lap and treat me to several ‘chin bumps’ with the top of his head. He did that several times over the week following Ditto’s death, then settled down and continued to cuddle in peculiarly Obama (the feline variety) fashion.

Jim and I decided that Ditto was just trying to tell us he’s sorry he had to leave us so quickly and he’ll be waiting when we’re ready to join him!

Who knows if that’s true, but it’s nice to think about! After all, how can there be a heaven without our animal friends there with us?!

In peace,

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