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Okay, I’ll admit it.  I am a dog lover.  This was not always the case.  When I was in my early-to-mid 20s I used to smirk condescendingly at pet owners as they would describe their affection for their animal.

Call me heartless, but I thought it was silly to attach so much emotion and affection to a pet.  People used to talk about the personality quirks of their animals, and I’d respond, or at least think, “Animals don’t have personalities – they’re not persons!”

And then I met Rio Grande.  He didn’t have that name when I met him in that smelly pet store in south Florida.  He was one of two remaining siblings left for purchase out of the puppy litter.  I examined both puppies and watched as one would try to friskily play with the other.  I figured a dog with that kind of spunk was just what I wanted.

Cute cannot even begin to describe this little bundle of wet-nosed energy!  As Rio grew, he began to leap on and off furniture, run around the house full speed darting here and there as if the only thing in life that was important was having fun.  The dog was hilarious!  I never thought I’d get so attached to a little Chihuahua.

This coming June marks his 16th birthday.  He’s not so spunky anymore.  In recent years, his running has almost ground to a halt.  One of his paws has flattened out.  His eyes are glazed over gray, and he pees … when HE wants to.

I look at him, and I know his days of glory are gone; but alas, he’s still my little Rio Grande.  Someday in the not-so-distant future, his end will inevitably arrive.  I am not looking forward to that day.  I have become a pet lover.  I have become what I once mocked.  I am okay with that.

Well-meaning folks try to bring comfort with sentimental affirmations that dogs go to heaven.  Shoot, a movie is entitled, “All Dogs Go to Heaven.”  I am not sure there is any theological foundation for such assertions.  But I do wonder.

I wonder since my heavenly Father likes to give His kids good gifts, and, since I know my love for animals pales in comparison to His love for His creation, and, because I know that someday He will wipe all tears from our eyes and make all things new … I just wonder.  I wonder if someday, in that eternal day, my Dad might have a little yapping, bouncing surprise waiting on me.  I’m good if it doesn’t happen.  I’m just saying, I wouldn’t mind it if my non-theological wondering became reality.