For JPH On The Death Of Toby

J.P. Holding of Tektonics ministries I count as a dear friend of mine. I received news this afternoon that his dog Toby had passed away.

His dog? You’re writing a blog about the death of a dog?

Yep. You got a problem with it? Tough.

Yeah. I know I’ve been blogging on marriage lately, and that will resume, but when something like this happens, you just have to say something. I can’t put my friends on hold like that. If you want to hear about marriage, it will continue. Tonight though, I’m going to honor Toby.

I’ll go on and say I’m not really the one that scores highest in empathy. However, I was deeply moved with sorrow when my roommate called me to tell me the news.  The thought was on my mind throughout the day. Walking through a parking lot, a dog in a car started barking and I wanted to be able to tell him he should be silent for one of the best has passed on.

When I was on vacation earlier this year, I got to hold Toby. It has been considered a rare honor. I even got to feed him and I have a picture of me with him. When I was there, there could be no doubt that JPH loved (No, loves) that dog. Even when he picked me up at the wedding I was at, Toby was there in the backseat. The dog went everywhere.

What is it about animals?

My first loss of a pet was our cat several years ago. I’d never known life without this cat. It was one of the hardest experiences of my life. I know other people who lose pets and it’s the same way. For some reason, when a pet dies, everyone else just flocks around and showers you with love and kindness. Nearly everyone can relate to this.

Why do they get into our hearts? It could be that they’re pictures of grace. They come and give us unconditional love at times. That is the only thing they usually give us. Yeah, some people have dogs to protect them and some have cats to get rid of mice, but even those would most likely agree the best aspect is the relational one.

Animals come and give us someone we can be with just for the sake of being with and they treat us the same way. Picture the joy in a dog when he hears his master calling and runs forward. Picture the cat who is happily purring and sleeping with his owner. Pets somehow become part of the family.

When our family gets together for Christmas, we even exchange Christmas gifts for the pets and we have them getting “gifts” for each other. Everyone knows the names of everyone else’s pets. People who know me know about the cat that my folks own back where they live. People who know JPH know about Toby.

Now a question arises as to whether pets go to Heaven. Now I don’t think the Bible speaks explicitly on this issue, but seeing the joy animals have brought in this world and how I believe in a cosmos being resurrected, I can’t rule out the concept. C.S. Lewis has argued that an animal receives eternal life by being connected to someone else who has received it. He could be right. No complaints here if he is.

So in conclusion, I’d like to say that I send my condolences out to my friend in his loss. It’s a terrible happening and I’m here any time. As for Toby, the world seems a lesser place without the presence of that happy pup in it. To anyone who has lost a pet now, take the time to cherish that memory. If you have a pet now, go and shower some affection on it now. You never know when that time will come.

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