We had to euthanize our family dog Hallie last Tuesday (an Airedale Terrier). It’s a particularly painful and stressful event. Putting down a dear friend and family member is not an easy thing to do. Weighing the options for someone who can’t speak makes it all the more difficult. Hallie’s kidneys were failing and she was gradually winding down. She ate little, and didn’t even have the motivation to go up the stairs to her bed at night. Her death gave me cause to wonder if this would be what it would be like if the loved one of an unbeliever were to die. Since animals have no soul, their ending is truly the end. There is no afterlife for them, and when saying goodbye, no hope for their future, which is a very bad feeling. For someone who is not a believer, death is a very bleak thing, whether it's the death of a pet or a person. Yet for our family, there’s more to the story.
Though Hallie is gone for good, we still rejoice, knowing that she was a gift from God. In his explanation to the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed in the Small Catechism, Luther states that God gives me “animals, and all I have,” and in the Large Catechism he explains
Now, all that we have, and whatever else is in heaven and upon the earth, is daily given, preserved, and kept for us by God. Therefore, it is clearly suggested and concluded that it is our duty to love, praise, and thank Him for these things without ceasing.
Hallie was a true source of joy for us. She was always willing to tag along wherever we might be headed, and always had a smile on her face. Even on her last night, she still managed to greet all of the trick-or-treaters who visited our home. She was smart, faster than fast, gentle with kids, and a great watchdog – not to mention awesome looking, as the photo up above shows. There’s no one who could deny God’s hand in her creation.
"But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10 ESV
I marveled at her senses, far outstripping me in smell, sight, and hearing, and though she didn’t have a human brain, she was still able to learn and communicate with us in her own unique ways.
Yet even in all of these wonderful blessings from God there is sorrow. I can’t open the door without thinking she’s going to be behind it, ready to greet me. But that grief will end. The Lord promises:
He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Isaiah 25:8-9 ESV
As I chat with you, I’m thankful for what God has given us. Through the death of our dog, I can proclaim to you God’s goodness. He created the world, sustains it, and will redeem it and all believers. Through the death of His Son Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven, sorrow is wiped away, and joy is eternal. Our four-legged friend is gone, but our hope is not. Thanks be to God.
Zach and Hallie in 2006
Click below for a couple more Hallie photos.
|Facing into a sea breeze at Cannon Beach in 2003|
|Hallie in her prime in 2008. She came from championship stock.|