The man had a dream. In this dream, he died. It happened so quickly he almost didn’t know life was over. One minute he was alive; the next, poof, he was organic fertilizer.
He went to Beulah Land. And it was the whole heavenly enchilada. Everything you’d expect. Mother-of-pearl gates. Twenty-four-carat streets. Greenery everywhere. Like the opening scenes of “The Sound of Music” minus the twirling nun.
The first to approach him was an old man. “We’ve been expecting you,” said the oldster. “There are a lot of excited souls waiting for you.”
The gates opened. The first soul to come barreling out of the gate was four-legged. Blonde. Slender. Like a pixie. She was the man’s first dog, a long time ago.
“Goldy!” the man shouted. And he was 10 years old again.
This was the dog that raised him. He got her when he was a boy. He picked her out of a cardboard box. She peed on him. She chewed everything he owned.
She was his best friend. Not metaphorically.
Goldy was with him during the suicide of his father. She was with him through the growing pains of adolescence. Through voice changes. Bad grades. Middle-school crushes.
She was with him until her little body gave out. The boy buried her beneath a cedar tree. He didn’t eat for three days.
Next out of the gate came a chocolate Lab. She was sprinting toward him. Tongue flapping in the wind.
Cody. She had originally been his father’s dog. But after his father’s untimely death, the boy inherited this dog. That’s just how it works.
She was a tender animal. A country dog. And a survivor. She survived copperhead bites, arsenic poisonings from cattle farmers, near drownings, and the one time the boy’s little sister made the poor dog wear a tutu.
But no dog can survive old age. Every dog must fall. Every animal’s breaths are numbered. Them’s the rules.
Cody leapt against him and he fell backward. He was laughing like a teenager. He was so happy his heart hurt.
Next came Lady. All black. Long ears. Pure cocker spaniel. She was a stray. The man found her when he was 15 years old. She came wandering through his neighborhood and landed on his doorstep when he had nobody to love him.
The kid put up “found” posters. Surely an animal this wonderful would have an owner who was just sick over their missing dog.
But nobody claimed her.
Well, it was their loss. For one decade Lady slept at the foot of the young man’s bed. She loved Hank Senior. Loved TCBY. She growled at the young man’s girlfriend because Lady was an excellent judge of character.
When Lady died, he buried her in the woods behind Walmart. Her favorite patch of woods.
A cop found him trespassing on the vacant lot with a shovel, carrying heavy black plastic bag. The boy was crying so hard he couldn’t breathe.
“You’re not supposed to be here,” said the officer. “This is private property.”
But in the end, the officer helped the boy dig the hole.
Next out of the gate came Boone, Hurley, and Gurgle. Three brothers. Border collie-Lab mixes. Long hair. Zest for life.
Hurley was hit by a car. Gurgle died on the floor of the doctor’s office. Boone died in the young man’s arms.
Next came Ellie Mae. The black and tan bloodhound. She bolted out of the gate and like a girl chasing the Beatles. Her loose jowls must have been eight feet long.
“Ellie Mae!” the young man screamed, and his voice broke.
He loved Ellie Mae in a unique way. They were close.
When she was a younger pup, they wrestled every night after supper. She rode shotgun in his vehicle, every blessed day of her life. She slept next to him each night, pressed against the crook of his back. She was The Dog.
When Ellie Mae died, the young man’s world went black. But today, in this ethereal place, Ellie was strong, fit, happy. No hip problems. No pain. No white hair around the muzzle. No pancreatitis.
So here they were. The young man and all his dogs.
He was lying there on the heavenly floor, in the dirt, getting lovingly mauled by canines. Rolling around. Laughing. Smiling. Playing. Running. Shouting.
Funny. He’d always thought heaven was a place where people sang Gloria Gaither hit singles and wore bleached underpants. But heaven was so much more.
Heaven was a place where, for all eternity, and still a thousand eternities to come, you could have dog hair on your long white robe.
They say there are no tears in heaven. But, oh, they lied.
Audrey - November 1, 2022 8:07 am
It wouldn’t be Heaven without the animals. They deserve to be there more than we ever could be. We need a Redeemer but they are innocent, loving creatures.
Mark Scott - November 1, 2022 9:11 am
I have a little dog named Puff
She has a pretty coat of fluff
When her puppies were born
We blew a horn
And name the biggest one Stuff
Melanie - November 1, 2022 9:51 am
Thank you Sean. Our beloved Dixie was laid to rest a few weeks ago. Til we meet again.
Joy Jacobs - November 1, 2022 11:26 am
My daughter brought home a malamute puppy right before she left for college. Jack loved my husband the best. When Jack died at age 3 of a fatty tumor embolism it broke my husband’s heart. He said it hurt more than when his dad died. I told him “your dad never followed you wherever you went and never slept on the floor next to you at night.” We miss all our dogs but each is special in their own way.
Jennifer - November 1, 2022 11:32 am
This is your All Saints Day column. Fitting. I have 4 Saints waiting for me, more by the time I get there I expect.
Bonnie - November 1, 2022 11:48 am
Beautifully written. They deserve Heaven far more than we ever will……
Kathryn - November 1, 2022 12:19 pm
Heaven is the place where all the dogs you’ve ever loved come running to greet you.
“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”
dianakinser55 - November 1, 2022 12:40 pm
Riley last year and Hannah two months ago — I can’t wait to get your kisses again! Oh the sweetness of heaven….
Lynn B - November 1, 2022 1:27 pm
Sooooo good!! I can’t wait for you and Marigold to look into each other’s eyes! ❤️
Sean of the South: Beulah Land | The Trussville Tribune - November 1, 2022 1:32 pm
[…] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]
Suellen - November 1, 2022 1:45 pm
We lost our dachshund in May. The beagle is elderly and now going through heart issues. For years we said when these two were gone no more dogs. We’re old ourselves. Caring for them is getting harder and Vet bills are so expensive. But there was a huge hole in our lives after Johan was gone. We were all grieving especially the beagle. In August we welcomed a little girl dachshund and she’s gone a long way to fill that hole in our hearts. Dogs are all unique and can never really be replaced but the love can be passed on. Praying I see all my dogs in heaven some day.
nashrrg - November 1, 2022 2:57 pm
I love this column, thank you Sean. I am not making anything off this book, but I highly recommend Randy Alcorn’s Heaven. Here is a great post on his website that deals with this issue: https://www.epm.org/resources/2005/Jun/5/our-beloved-dog-recently-died-should-i-correct-my-/ I hope and desire that an all loving Lord who is worthy to be worshipped could give us another reason to love and adore him by how he uses our furry family members in the new earth to cause us to worship him further and completely.
David - November 1, 2022 3:17 pm
Eva Marie Everson - November 1, 2022 6:40 pm
“You, LORD, preserve both people and animals” (Psalm 36:6). ’nuff said.
MAM - November 2, 2022 1:17 am
I sure hope all our dogs are in heaven waiting for us. What a glorious day that will be! I’ll have at least 7 headed for me, and they’ve all missed down here.
Linda Moon - November 2, 2022 5:04 am
I hear it now, the song, as I read the title of this post. I’ll be hearing it tomorrow, too, when I think about Heaven. I’ll be there, but not anytime soon…. if all goes well tomorrow.
Kathy - November 2, 2022 1:12 pm
However, there ARE tears here as we remember our friends that have gone ahead.