When Mac stepped in front of a truck on December 1, 2012, it was a major accident. Last night, my husband admitted to me, after the local vet told him to take Mac to the Animal Emergency, Critical Care & Referral Center on Kingston Pike, he fully expected to be carrying in a dead animal. Mac's blood loss was severe, to the point where his gums were whitish-blue.
It was a shock, coming the day after our Schnauzer, Dante, was struck and killed by a car. What humbled me was the number of people who not only contacted me with condolences for Dante when they learned the news, but the number of people who said they would pray for Mac. Indeed, a couple of days after his accident, our neighbor came over to Mark, to tell him she had "all the women down at the Methodist church" praying for Mac's recovery!
Mac is still alive - albeit after some $3,000 later. But when you volunteer to become a pet owner, it is akin to becoming a parent. It takes patience, it takes sacrifice - but the reward is that you have a creature who does not care about your weight, who does not care about your income, who only wants to be loyal and faithful to you. It is our Catholic stewardship to be caring to our pets.
Do they go to Heaven when they die? The answer is not a definitive yes or a definitive no. But Scripture has a large number of references to animals. We know God blessed His creatures andcalled them good:
Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened: God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good.
-- Genesis 1:24-25
Arguably, animals were used to see God's promises fulfilled, be it the ram sacrificed by Abraham, the healing serpent of Moses, the ox whose jawbone Samson used, the animals that were in the manger at Christ's birth, the donkeys that carried Christ to Egypt as a child and triumphantly into Jerusalem as a man - even the herd of wild pigs that assumed the evil spirit that Jesus cast from a man into them.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
-- Matthew 10:29
Why would God care about a sparrow dying? Because He loves them. He is incapable of being indifferent to His creation. And it may be that our pets are rewarded after death for their service to us.
As for the prayers said for Mac, well, a favorite saying of mine was once stated in a sermon at my former parish: I know God exists because prayer works.
See for yourself.