Is There an Animal Heaven?
At the animal crematorium near us, you can watch your pet’s body enter the flames through a glass wall. Behind the conveyor belt carrying your pet’s corpse toward the oven is a giant mural of “animal heaven,” an idyllic landscape of mountains, river and flowercarpeted valleys. Fluffy clouds drift across deep blues skies. Butterflies and birds flit about. Sheep frolic on the hills. Dogs play with sticks and roll in electric-green grass. Cats chase their tails. And horses joyfully run at full speed. There is not a human to be seen. Messages from owners are scrolled across the wall—“We will always love you, Rufus;” “Sabine, you were the greatest cat that ever lived.” Costumers were encouraged to write their final words to their pets in a guest book. As I looked through it, I was saddened to find how many people had put their beloved pets to sleep and were asking for forgiveness. Many of the messages conveyed real pain.
It has become a truism that the passing of a beloved pet causes a puzzlingly deep grief. People talk about the loss of animals’ unconditional love, their loyalty and willingness to please, as factors. And pets never really grow up. One of my most loved was a Roman street cat named Uggles. Uggles lived to the venerable age of 24, a remarkable life span for any cat. Nevertheless, he stayed a baby, pre-verbal, full of cuddle energy, and about the same size as a one-month old infant. I felt responsible for him in every way. Had I really been doing my job, he would never die but outlive me, as all infant-like creatures should. Only once in a while did it occur to me that were he my son, he would already have finished college and gone on to establishing a career and possibly a family. There is another pain-exacerbating factor, however, and that is the notion of animal heaven. The traditional thinking is that if animals have souls (which of course they do), their souls do not go where we go after we die but someplace else. And that place is separate from ours, made for, and limited to a “lower” consciousness. Animal heaven and the human afterlife at no point connect. There is then, no possibility of meeting again.
I’ve had a lot of pets. At one time my husband and I had ten cats, a dog and a chicken living with us. Deaths–all natural–were frequent, yet each one was unique. Together we have assisted every one of them. We got tremendous help from friends and family members already on the other side. Sometimes the dead would tell me when passing would occur, even to the exact minute. I took care to psychically watch my pets’ energy bodies leave, usually lifting out somewhere near the crown of their heads, just as people do. And I was able to follow them for days afterward. The stories are astonishing and I promise one day I will write about them if you want to hear them. Each pet went to a different kind of afterlife. With only one exception, they were taken up by friends and relatives.
In my cat Twyla’s case, it was her original owner who took her. He had been dead for some eight years by then. When he grabbed the cat as she shot out of her body he said to me “You’ve had her long enough!” She ended up being the princess of a community of young men who had gathered together to work out their problems.
What’s more, most of my pets are aware of each other and when I encounter one I learn from him or her how the others are doing. They, like us, will sometimes stay in a “consensus reality,” often with other animals. A domestic pet will almost always chose a domesticated reality rather than what we would consider an untamed one. Our little cat Rosie, for instance, never cared much for the company of humans. Her afterlife was in a farm setting, similar to where she had lived, in which a few people were seen in the distance.
It was a big surprise to me and my husband that directly after her death she wanted the experience of pregnancy and motherhood. Rosie had been sterilized while she was pregnant, hence her need for self-fulfillment was literally and figuratively aborted. She had her kittens within two days. By day four she was already feeling the restraints. She needed to explore her new realm and return to full mobility after her death, rather than be saddled with care taking her babies. I am not claiming that there is real birth in the afterlife. Rosie’s kittens were her own constructions, born out of desire, and they do have a kind of consciousness, but not a primary consciousness. She was soon able to let them go and begin to focus in her new reality.
My Turkish street dog was taken by my father. She still lives with him, at least part of the time, although they never knew each other in their incarnated lives. My dog’s happiest moments in life were the walks. She was her most exuberant in corn fields, madly scurrying between the stalks sniffing out hares. She still takes those walks with my father.
My beloved Maussie went to the home of his first owner directly after death. The little house was infused with a springtime atmosphere of preternatural beauty. Since then he has moved on, indeed roaming far and wide into dimensions that only he can comprehend. Of all my pets, I hear from him the most, and he is the one who keeps track of all the others.
As Maussie shows, the mechanisms of animal consciousness are really no different from ours. They, like us, will gravitate toward conditions in the afterlife that are optimum for their wellbeing at that moment. And like humans, they create portions of their afterlives out of the reality they knew in the body. This is not to say that a pet’s afterlife is limited to animal-human activity. They, like us, have the ability to expand in any direction they can conceive. Nor would wild animals choose such afterlives for themselves. It would be incongruent with what they knew and valued. From what I have seen, herd animals join herds, birds join flocks, gazelles range on unspeakably beautiful plains. Yet they possess powers of mobility that far exceed what they knew in the body. Yes, pigs do fly. And they are safe at last from harm.
Research considering thousands of after-death communication experiences has shown that a full 16% of all after-death communication occurs with a person’s pet! What’s more that pet usually shows up with a relative or friend of the person in tow, despite the fact that the deceased human may never have known the pet on earth. Pets are also among the first to great their owners when they pass.
So, answering the question “Is there an animal heaven,” I would say no. But there is indeed an animal afterlife, one they can share with us or not depending on their individual needs and mindsets.
February 2, 2014 @ 2:24 am
I enjoyed this article. I don’t understand why anyone would grieve the loss of an animal and then imagine them in a separate heaven where we can’t enjoy their presence. I’ve gotten several messages telling me that my mom is enjoying her afterlife taking care of animals. Recently I heard from my late dog Meggie. She told me that she and my other animals are all fine and not to worry about them. No details about their activities but she seems to have both human and animal friends including my parents. I was very surprised that she could talk to me. She even had a name for me. She called me “Big.” (I gave her a name; she gave me a name.) I asked Ben how she was able to talk. He said she wasn’t talking with words. She was talking to me the same way he did–with thoughts that I made into words.
February 3, 2014 @ 11:39 am
Yes, Donya, strange as it seems some of them do talk, but not all. I’m glad you brought this up. Similarly, infants after they pass talk too.
February 2, 2014 @ 5:58 pm
When my dog died recently my heart spoke of the inconsolable grief written above in this post. Although I had been through this process of letting go many times with humans, there is something about the decision making that often has to happen with our animal companions. The decision to end a life, through humanitarian compassion to end their suffering. My dog had cancer, and bladder disease. I found I was being given a choice, to act through my own belief or to follow the road most often taken, namely how to treat her cancer became the choice of allopathic medicine and chemotherapy or homeopathic and holistic nutrition. The latter was the choice I made and I was so fortunate in finding a wonderful center called Tree of Life, In Courtney, Vancouver Island. They spoke to my dog as an individual, a presence and she responded by extending her life 10 months pain free and taking her own decision in the timing of her death. That said, the final moments were heart breaking for me. Although she clearly decided, after my words telling her that she had done well and could go whenever she wanted, that this was the last day – it was still that final decision to say goodbye. Or so I thought. We drove listening to her favorite music, she with her head on my lap. When we got to the vets, almost 3 hours of a trip away it seemed with ferries included, she regained consciousness and struggled to sit up then looked at me, and laid her head on my heart. She said goodbye. Yet, as she drifted into her sleep, I was graced by glimpsing her dreams – I saw my father (long since deceased from cancer) waiting by a field. He had been a farmer and although had never met her, she was a sheepdog. I also saw a friend’s mother recently passed, who had taken care of her in her lifetime. And finally someone very dear to my own heart, appeared too, apparently ready to take her. He seemed to be standing on the top steps of a plane. In an instant I saw him lift her up, and she a puppy again. At that moment, the vet said quietly, she has passed. I don’t know about animal heaven, but I felt very certain, along with the euphoric feeling of peace and love that swept over us as she died, that I have been given a gift. And so I shared it with you here. Love, animals are part of that loving consciousness, which never dies. Thank you for this post.
May 24, 2014 @ 3:46 pm
Thank you, Cath, for sharing your beautiful gift!
February 8, 2014 @ 1:04 am
Hi Julia, well life on Earth is in very serious trouble if there is NOT an afterlife or “Heaven” for non-human life forms. Why ? Simply because 99% of all the species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct. Crises created by human irresponsibility, such as climate change, species extinctions and acidification of the oceans are threatening to obliterate much of life on Earth as we know it, during this century. Here in Australia we are being told that our precious Great Barrier Reef could be toast within the next 30 years, as coral bleaching caused by global warming runs rampant.
Two major concerns I have about afterlife research are its gross Anthropocentrism (only our family members and other people matter in the afterlife) and, if people consider animals at all, they only seem to care about their own domestic pets, which is just another symptom of human parochialism. The assumptions that only people have “eternal souls” and the grudging concession that if animals survive at all it is only as a “lower” consciousness which inhabits a separate sphere to Humanity, are disastrous legacies from Judeo-Christian religion and Neo-Platonism. It is precisely these attitudes that have helped create the crises we now have on Earth, so projecting these attitudes into the afterlife simply compounds the damage.
Incredibly, Earth has lost TWO THIRDS of its large mammal species since humans became the dominant creatures on Earth around 60, 000 years ago. The “safari” experience today only available in Africa would have been available in North and South America and Australia before people arrived on those continents. Australia lost dozens of species of giant kangaroos, giant wallabies, giant wombats and diprotodons, giant reptiles and giant flightless birds, following the arrival of people 45, 000 years ago. We have lost a further 21 species of mammals and around the same number of birds (mostly on offshore islands), since the arrival of Europeans in 1788.
Depressed as I am by all of this, I am clinging to the hope that “pristine” versions of Earth still exist in some of the afterlife dimensions, and that I personally, when my time comes to leave this impoverished version of Earth, might be able to directly experience and interact with them. I think you grasp the urgency of these questions, Julia, so let me know what you think.
Greetings from Sydney, Rex.
February 8, 2014 @ 6:03 pm
What I think is, Rex, YOU ARE RIGHT on all accounts. And I am grateful for you comment. I used to say, we should never have left caves–when life was simple and population small. But my husband says we should never have left trees! We have forgotten our own animal roots in the runaway ego-oriented world. Mandates of having dominion over the beasts don’t help. We have a long way to go. But think, Rex, even 50 years ago you would not have written such thoughts, you would not have taken these concerns to heart.
There are a million things to say about all this. In The Last Frontier I write a great deal against the Darwinian notion of exploiting for so-called survival. We do not recognize the enormous cooperative animals have built among themselves. Only we have stepped out of that cooperative and the Imperialist view of our superiority. I am very proud to have Neanderthal blood!
From the glimpses I have had of the future, this poor little Earth will grow green again. And we will begin to understand consciousness, especially consciousness outside our own. And we will come back to the first and only law–reverence for all life!