When Dog-man thinks about the afterlife he becomes irascible. He’s more Mark Twain than Augustine. He thinks of Twain’s vision in “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven” where the good Captain discovers an insipid, bland Italianate city filled with angels who can’t play their harps.
Its Sunday school all over again and Stormfield decides he’d rather go to Hell. Like Stormfield, DM isn’t sophisticated. And what about our dogs? He worries about the dogs. He wants an afterlife with them but then he’s forced to consider whether he wants to spend eternity with people. “You know, people,” he says to his dog, “the gold standard of Christianity.” His dog looks unconvinced. “Could he have,” he wonders, “a heaven with his favorite dogs and just a few people?” Then he feels shallow. He feels inadequate in the company of his dog who would welcome anyone. In this way his dog is more like Jesus. When he thinks of this he feels even more shallow. To cheer himself up he imagines an afterlife for dogs where they’re freed from all engagements with human stuff. They get to be dogs. They can see us and smell us but we’re in Hell. And Hell is mostly re-incarnation. This makes DM feel better. But not much.
He loves his dogs so much. They’ve kept him from harm with a selflessness people simply don’t have, or they only have in extremis—in battles or blazing buildings. HIs guide dogs have been with him, in him, beside him, over him, hour by hour, and for years now. He can’t fully remember what it was like being without them.