This passage from Isaiah 56 seems appropriate for today as we mourn the passing of the beagle matriarch of our family, “queen bee” Nellie. We were blessed to have her joyful presence for nearly twelve years, having rescued her at about the age of three. A faithful companion, a brave cancer battler, a voracious eater (at least until recently), and an inveterate squirrel hunter, she is already sorely missed.
I am heartened by Peter Kreeft in Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven… But Never Dreamed of Asking (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990, 45-46) that we will see Nellie again. The excerpt from the book (below) is from this article.
10. Are There Animals in Heaven?
The simplest answer is: Why not? How irrational is the prejudice that would allow plants (green fields and flowers) but not animals into Heaven! [St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III (Supplement), 91, 5] Much more reasonable is C.S. Lewis’ speculation that we will be “between the angels who are our elder brothers and the beasts who are our jesters, servants and playfellows” [That Hideous Strength, p. 378] Scripture seems to confirm this: “thy judgments are like the great deep; man and beast thou savest, O Lord” [Psalm 36:6]. Animals belong in the “new earth” [Revelation 21:1] as much as trees.
C.S. Lewis supposes that animals are saved “in” their masters, as part of their extended family [The Problem of Pain, pp. 138-39]. Only tamed animals would be saved in this way. It would seem more likely that wild animals are in Heaven too, since wildness, otherness, not-mine-ness, is a proper pleasure for us [C.S. Lewis, Miracles, p. 78]. The very fact that the seagull takes no notice of me when it utters its remote, lonely call is part of its glory.
Would the same animals be in Heaven as on earth? “Is my dead cat in Heaven?” Again, why not? God can raise up the very grass [Psalm 90:5-6. If we are “like grass”, and we are raised, grass can be raised, too]; why not cats? Though the blessed have better things to do than play with pets, the better does not exclude the lesser. We were meant from the beginning to have stewardship over the animals [Genesis 1:28]; we have not fulfilled that divine plan yet on earth; therefore it seems likely that the right relationship with animals will be part of Heaven: proper “petship”. And what better place to begin than with already petted pets?