As I sit here watching Illya’s life fade, though, he is still hanging in there; I find I have to believe that there’s room in Heaven for our furrfriends; and those that know me personally, will remember this belief from when Bonzo passed last fall.
At our house we call them furrkids, because they aren’t pets, they are members of our family. Ours, now, are all adopted from rescue organizations, and most recently one here in the DFW area, the North Texas Samoyed Rescue, from which we adopted Illya 8+ years ago (and have taken care of his medical bills through this trial, our eternal thanks to Lynn and all), with his pal, Mikhi (who passed Sept of ’07), and most recently, Natalya, a young lady just over a year old, and still quite a puppy.
I got involved with Samoyeds in the mid-80s, eventually going into show and breeding (once), and have taken in the rescues since my early Sammies passed away, so since around ’95. All of these guys & gals have become integral to our lives and deeply embedded in our hearts and souls; which is for our good if not theirs.
My wife has never had children of her own, physically, but she is the best mother any one could want or need. She whole-heartily loves my sons, our skinkids, and helped me finish raising my youngest when we were granted custody of him when he was 13. Today, he’d tell you she was one of his best friends those years at home, and to this day he talks to her about things he won’t with me. The main thing about my beloved, Marsha, is she has so much heart and love that anyone or animal that she cares about will know a rich life, myself the most fortunate. Our furrkids are the ones to most benefit (outside of me, of course), in that these really are her kids and if we weren’t restricted on numbers, we’d probably have a hundred. So as we face losing another in such a short time, our 5th in 2 years, we mourn our loss and wish we had more time, but God granted us another month that we didn’t think we had. And we won’t be adding any more to our family until my economic situation vastly improves.
We are bi-animal folks as well, both cats and dogs, and all adopted, as I’ve said. How anyone can say that these kids don’t have individual characters is beyond me and if they do, then they’ve either never grown close to one or have never had one–and their life is sorely empty of that love and pain.
So, do all dogs go to Heaven? My belief is yes, and cats too for those that are dog-biased, and I believe the reason why is the piece of our souls that we give to them in return for the love that we receive from them. In my world, a Heaven bereft of those we’ve nurtured and loved would be an emptier place without them and no Heaven at all. Aren’t we guaranteed by our faith that we’ll see our loved ones again? Then why wouldn’t they be there to jump up, lick our faces and mill around our feet, as we are met by our other loved ones that greet us? More would be the shame if not; they were part of our lives just as our friends and families are and were, if not more so in some unfortunate circumstances.
From our family there is already a group waiting to greet Illya, Mihki, of course; Timber, who he played slobber-baby with; his kitties, Sheba (She-Who-Would-Not-Ignored) and Bonzo (Guard Cat [see picture below] and Honorary Sammie, after spending a whole day in a crate with Vina), ; and new friends for him, Vina and Boris (Marsha’s first dog ever), my early Sammies; and Sassy, one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever known. They’re all there to say, “Howdy!” (they’re all Texans, ya’ know), and to show him around and off to those that await us.
We will miss our beloved Sergeant Major; he was always alert and on guard looking out from his posts and giving out alerts when errant dogs were loose (or being walked for that matter); I even know of one false alert where I swear I caught him snickering when the other two took off into the backyard to see what was up. If there ever was a fellow that should have been a Marine, it was Illya, from his “high and tight” when he was groomed, to his compact musculature (he’s part Chow, but have never held it against him) and his ferocity when needed, and his mirth when at play — he was one to admire.
It might be presumptuous of me, especially being a bubblehead squid (Navy submariner, for you landlubbers), but I would say Semper Fi to my friend and worthy furrson, Illya, until we meet again, play hard and know we love you, and Semper Fi.