We loved this article by Domestic Beast so much, that we decided to reprint it here
Good question! God wouldn’t return our emails, so the answer is: Nobody really knows. But we did find out that different religions have very different attitudes toward dogs…
Christianity: According to the Bible, God cares quite a bit about animals. (Hello, Noah’s Ark?) It also mentions that there is a “spirit” in animals, but this doesn’t necessarily mean an eternal spirit, if you catch our drift. Christians believe that animals exist in Heaven, but whether or not they are resurrections of our beloved pets – well, you probably won’t know until you get there.
Hinduism: For Hindus, dogs have a major religious significance. In fact, it’s believed that dogs guard the doors of Heaven and Hell and that caring for dogs can pave the way to Heaven. However, it’s not known if dogs actually get to enter Heaven with you, or if they’re just along for the walk.
Islam: Many Muslims consider dogs to be ritually unclean. While Muhammad advocated kindness to dogs and other animals, he said that the company of dogs, except as helpers in hunting, herding and home protection, voided a portion of a Muslim’s good deeds. (We’re assuming that’s kind of a deal-breaker for getting into Heaven.)
Zoroastrianism: This ancient Iranian religion regards the dog as an especially clean and righteous creature who must be fed and taken care of. The dog is praised for the useful work it performs in the household and its gaze is considered to be purifying, able to drive away demons. Dogs are also seen as having special spiritual values, with a special connection to the afterlife. The bridge to Heaven is said to be guarded by dogs, and the killing of a dog is pretty much considered your ticket to Hell.
Other fascinating Zoroastrian beliefs*:
- A homeowner is required to take care of a pregnant dog that lies near his home at least until the puppies are born (and in some cases until the puppies are old enough to take care of themselves; i.e., 6 months).
- If the homeowner does not take care of the pregnant dog, and the puppies come to harm as a result, “he shall pay for it the penalty for willful murder.”
- It is a major sin if a man harms a dog by giving it bones that are too hard and become stuck in its throat, or food that is too hot, so that it burns its throat.
- Giving bad food to a dog is as bad as serving bad food to a human.
- People are required to take care of a dog with a damaged sense of smell and try to heal it. If they fail, they must tie the dog “lest it fall into a hole or a body of water and be harmed.”
- The spirits of a thousand deceased dogs are reincarnated in a single otter (AKA a “water dog”). Therefore, the killing of an otter is a terrible crime that brings drought and famine upon the land and is punishable by death.
*We do have to note that in modern times, many of these beliefs and practices are toned down a bit, even by the most devout Zoroastrians.
Thank you so much Domestic Beast for such a wonderful article