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Do Dogs Have Souls?

I once had a parishioner who had a dog. He was a good dog in the way that most dogs are good but he also had a perverse streak in the way that some dogs are perverse. To listen to my parishioner talk about his dog, one might almost conclude his dog had a soul.

For example, one of the dog’s favorite games was called Torment the Bulls. You could almost picture him waking up on a Tuesday morning, stretching, feeling a little bored, and so deciding that this would be a good day to torment the bulls.

It was a simple game, really. Hop the fence, find a bull, chase it around a bit until he got good and mad, and then sit in the middle of the field. The game begins when the bull turns around, focuses his beady eyes on the tormentor, paws the ground, gives off a snort or two, and reflects on the satisfaction of launching that stupid dog into the next county.

His mind made up (bulls have souls, too), he charges. Like a locomotive, he slowly gains speed. His momentum strikes terror in onlookers. Nothing can derail him. In a matter of seconds, the dog will be dispatched to six counties. Anyone watching turns away in horror.

But remember, to the dog, this is a game, the object of which was to spring to the side at the last possible moment and feel the wind of the bull as he tears past. The game goes on like this—bull charging, dog jumping aside just before disaster strikes—until the dog tires of such sport, and a smile on his face, he goes looking for something a neighbor left on the porch for him to eat.

Having long since left this world, the dog will have paid for by now/be paying still for his sins in another universe, but we thank him anyway for providing us with a good laugh. And who knows, laughter itself being a gift of God, perhaps God so enjoyed the spectacle that forgiveness was instantaneous.

Victor Borge was right, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” In so far as laughter is a synonym for grace (God’s undeserved, freely offered love), one wonders if laughter is not also the shortest distance between the Creator and the created.

Given the world’s many conflicts, personal and global, maybe we should lock up key antagonists with Laurel and Hardy and Company.

As for dogs having souls ….

Well? Do they?