I actually registered a considerable amount of disappointment when I read that initial stories about the Pope saying that dogs go to Heaven was incorrectly reported. It had been picked up in so many outlets around that world that it was almost immediately accepted as canon. This may be due to the fact that the press – as well as so many believers around the globe – have fallen in love with Pope Francis and also been excited by the way he has reached out to the weakest, the poorest and the most despondent on the planet to inspire them with hope and remind them that they are not forgotten. So why would he not tell a young boy that he would see his beloved dog again in Heaven? It was an easy story to believe.

For the record, at least to my knowledge, Pope Francis has also not come out and said that he refutes the claim. But whether he does or not, the question has cropped up among my great nieces and nephews already, as I’m sure it will in many of your families. So I will save His Holiness some time in his very busy schedule and tell you right now.

Yes. All dogs go to Heaven.

I don’t require an advanced degree in theology to tell you that dogs are special and occupy a singular place among all the other animals. We created them and have imparted something very special in the process. No, we did not “create” them in the way that the Lord molded man from the dust of the Earth and breathed life into him. But we did pull the dog from his life as a creature of the wild and we bred him until he was not just a servant, but a friend and member of our family. We have taken the place of demi-gods to our dogs and lifted them into our karass, as Kurt Vonnegut described it.

You can read endless stories, such as the that of the dog who sat by his owner’s grave for years on end. There was Hawkeye, who refused to leave the casket of his Navy SEAL master. Talero, who guarded his owner’s dead body for 23 days in the freezing cold. But if you have a dog in your life, you don’t even need those stories. You can see it in their eyes. The love they have for you whenever you speak their name. The hurt they feel if you treat them unkindly. The boundless joy they display when you walk in the door.

These are not the acts of dumb animals. This is love.. human love, received and given in return. These are the acts of devotion which only come from a fellow being with a soul, however you wish to define that. And no righteous God would turn His back on such a beautiful creature. Further, unlike far too many of those of us who walk on two legs, these dogs never do evil of their own accord. They are blameless and deserve every reward that any of us might earn and much, much more.

These are not just stories we tell to children to ease their pain. In our house, we have the ashes of each of the dogs we have adopted. And since we plan ahead on the very likely assumption that my wife will outlive me by a good measure, she plans to bury them with me. We share that belief with all of the young ones in the family with no deception on our parts. And if any of the children in your clan hear about those stories regarding the Pope on the news and come and ask you, you can tell them with no regrets at all.

Yes. All dogs go to Heaven. And here’s just one of many who already has.

MaxSanta