Pet ownership is not for wimps. It’s excruciatingly tough. Especially when it comes time to bid our furry family members farewell. Those twinkling eyes you see above were shut for the last time last night.

We couldn’t bear Dusty being in constant pain and, in recent times, often unable to support his own weight because three of his legs were too weak. He was 18 years old, blind and deaf. But feisty to the end. The one thing he hadn’t lost the use of were his vocal cords. It was how he hailed us when he needed help to stand up, or when he was backed into a corner (head first) and unable to figure a way out. He gave a few last yelps yesterday evening at the indignity of having some of his leg fur shaved off. And he fell asleep one last time.

There were a couple of occasions in the past when we thought we’d lost him for good. I had to race him to the emergency vet hospital when he choked on a large piece of pig’s ear. His greed had made him try to wolf down a large remaining bit of the ear because he was afraid that the strange humans his family had invited to the home might snag his favourite chewy snack. Thankfully, it wasn’t his number that was being called that night. So, after a short stay in the hospital, we had our resident furball back home again.

Another time he decided to go walkies on his own. That was a five-day adventure away from us that also ended well because of some angels who found him. You can read about that here.

Dusty was also my second confidant during my widowed years. God heard all my outpourings and was ever-present. But when I wanted physical company and a compassionate pair of eyes that would show me unconditional love, Dusty would sit with me along the corridor leading to the bedrooms and we would have a good heart-to-heart. I would pour out my heart to him and his heart would show in his eyes.

Will I see him in heaven? Like C. S. Lewis, I have to own that I am not 100 percent sure. But my theology of the new heavens and new earth also tell me that all that is good in God’s created order will be redeemed.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
  the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
  and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
  their young will lie down together,
  and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
  and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
  on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD
  as the waters cover the sea.

(Isaiah 6:11–9, NIV)

Which tell me that when I finally reach the other side of eternity, I just might see Dusty bounding towards me, ears flying in the wind; followed by Bubbles our Beagle; and Lucky my childhood companion.