When an animal who has been a literal part of your family dies, a part of you dies with him or her. The grieving process is largely the same for an animal as it is for a human: denial, bargaining, anger and acceptance. These four stages accompany the most difficult fact of life that we mortals have to deal with: the fact of death. The body is finite and mortal. It breathes, digests food, sees, hears, engages in physical activity and after a certain period of time, one of those seeds of death we have embedded in our DNA will subtly sprout up. We won’t notice it. Even the organism in question won’t really notice it, until it’s sapped every ounce of his/ her energy and they begin to wait for death. My personal belief, which is not shared by the leadership of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, is that animals have souls. Animals have souls and they even have the power to send their people in this world a new pet to love. I took a walk today and I saw a ghostly leash being tugged by that ghostly beagle. If God doesn’t forget about the sparrows, in no way will He forget about a good, loving and loyal dog such as the one my mother owned and that I helped to take care of. Buddy lives, just in a different way. His mortal body may be ashes, but he still has a little napping place in my heart.