When a Pet Dies in a Catholic Family

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When a Pet Dies in a Catholic Family

When a Pet Dies in a Catholic Family

One of the hardest things to happen in a family with small children is the death of a family pet. As Catholics we know that we have immortal souls and that we can someday be with our Lord and our loved ones in heaven. But the family pet doesn’t have the same guarantees and it can be difficult to comfort our bereaved little ones with stories of doggy and kitty heaven when our Catholic faith doesn’t teach that.

I’ve had some experience with this as a child and as an adult.

When I was a little girl, my beloved cat, Shadow, was hit by a car. For many days my folks would not tell me what happened to her and so I continued to call and search for her. When they couldn’t stand it any more, my grandfather finally lead me to a little spot in the garden with a neat little grave and a pretty white cross that he had made especially for it. Then he just let me cry and cry on his shoulder for as long as I wanted – I knew that this was my cat’s grave, and I never questioned the symbolism of the white cross. I knew that when people died they got pretty grave sites with crosses or other religious symbols and so I didn’t question the Christian Cross on my cat’s grave, put there by my Christian grandfather! At that age I simply considered my cat to be a Christian too! The little grave with all the trimmings brought me some comfort.

A few years ago our beloved dog, Pepper, got sick and died. When we got the news from the vet we were all shocked and saddened. In the midst of all the sobs, 7-year-old son Noah asked, “Shouldn’t we pray the rosary or something mom?”

And so we did. Pepper lived in our Catholic household, so we prayed for our Catholic Dog. We started out with the joyful mysteries and I did some improvisation. The first mystery we prayed to thank God for the gift of having Pepper for a pet. The second mystery was a prayer that she didn’t suffer too much. The third mystery we asked for the intercession of Old Testament Noah and St. Francis, because they loved animals and know that they are God’s creatures too. The fourth mystery I reminded the children that they could ask for their little brother’s intercession too. My little daughter said that perhaps Pepper could be his dog now, to which I simply replied that we could have hope in God’s mercy and love. The fifth mystery we prayed for our veterinarian, and gave thanks for all of the good care he has given our pets over the years and for the comfort and care he gave Pepper.

I’ve had pets all of my life, and I am always amazed at how much losing them hurts. And yet with the companionship and joy they bring to the home, we never seem to go long without one. But not right away, and sometimes not for a while. It is good to feel the loss for at least a little bit, even if it does make our domestic church seem just a little emptier.

Copyright 2013 Elena LaVictoire

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About Author

Elena LaVictoire has been married to her high school sweet heart for over 30 years. They have six children (from 26 to 10) who were all homeschooled. When she's not homeschooling or playing with her 2-year-old granddaughter, she blogs regularly about her issues and events that affect her family at mydomesticchurch.com.

10 Comments

  1. I’m a bit confused by this. At many Catholic parishes, there is the Blessing of the Animal (family pets) for the Feast of St. Francis. I have always heard from those priests that animals are included in God’s plan for salvation – thus the reason for the animal in the Garden of Eden, Noah’s arc, etc. There are many stories involving animals – so why wouldn’t they be allowed? Maybe there isn’t a species-specific heaven, but why would God make all these amazing creatures if they weren’t part of the grand plan? I do know that Protestants (maybe not all) believe that animals have no place in heaven. I guess they will have a great surprise when they arrive at those gates.

    Quote: “Catholic teaching and other sources showing that God desires the whole family of creation—both humans and animals—to be saved and to live happily with God in the life to come. ”

    Source: http://www.americancatholic.org/e-news/friarjack/Newlayout.aspx?id=1

  2. Taylor Gilfillan on

    I think there is a special place in heaven for all the souls we loved on earth. When you look at the noble role that dogs especially play in this world, from sniffer dogs that keep us safe, to guide dogs who help the disabled, to our sweet little terrier Mitzi who is so tolerant and loving to our crazy boys, you know what God gave us wonderful companions in them. So I don’t worry, and trust in the love of God. Just as he will take care of us in the end, I know he will take care of our furry loved ones. Though when our puppy got hit by a car, we told our oldest son that Odie went to heaven with his great granddad he quickly replied ‘Bid Dad stole my dog! I want him back!’ and he as told several people since.

  3. when our cat was about to die, our youngest asked if the priest could come pray for her. we lived across the street from the rectory, so i went and asked. one of them came over in his pjs and prayed for the cat and us. it was very touching.

  4. My 85 year old mom and I (both Catholics whose faith is our lifeline) are trying to prepare for the eventual passing of her beloved, incredibly feeble but still spunky otherwise healthy and very loving sixteen year old bichon Nicky. She/we had many dogs over the years but as a widow since 42 the bond with little Nicky is stronger than with any previous dog. While I absolutely do believe animals go to heaven because love is eternal (read Heaven Is for Real) it doesn’t make the loss much easier. I LOVE the idea of praying the rosary… Mom does everyday already and I try to do it in the car to and from work.We will definitely pray it together for Nicky …all the intentions on each of your mysteries are exactly the same as our experience. Thank you so much.

  5. Igancio Ruiz on

    When we are in heaven we are in a comfort zone. I believe that our pets will join us in heaven if we so desire. We can get almost anything we want except those who weren’t able to enter because of grave sin, but can meet once again with our beloved ones. With pets included….

  6. Well looks like no clear cut answer as to when dogs / pets die and will we meet again.
    I will pray I will meet Max again in heaven
    when its my time. Max died 2 days ago at 12 yrs. old ,after an emergency room doctor said
    she could not save my Best Friend Max my dog I had since 6 weeks old. I will live the rest of my life believing God will reunite us .
    RIP MAXIMOS. You were such a Special companion that brought me so many good times and Love.

  7. Just hour ago I had to put my 15 year old best friend Ebony. It was so fast. Something was VERY BAD WRONG FAST. Holding and petting him in box..tomorrow I will take him back to vet for cremation. I will definitely pray rosary every day. I needed him much more than he needed me. In heaven I can’t imagine Jesus not allowing his children to have their beloved pets. He created them for us. GOD BLESS MY EBONY and all pets.

  8. I actually pray with my two birds. They were blessed by a priest two years ago. I am a single lay catholic so my two feathered friends are my family. They are 13 years old. We do the morning prayer from the liturgy of the hours together and sometimes I will do the Rosary with them. This is probably really weird to the average catholic but I do recall that Our Lord said to preach the gospel to all creation. I believe that the animals that come to know the love and care of humans definitely have a shot at heaven. I pray that my beloved non human brethren go to heaven not for my sake but for their sake so that may live in eternal piece with their greatest love of all – Our Lord Himsrlf.

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