A Hug from Horse Heaven

I have never really been sure if animals have eternal souls or if our beloved pets will actually be with us in heaven.  As an animal lover, it’s something I’d like to believe is true.  The Bible doesn’t really say, as far as I can tell.  But last night I had the most wonderful dream, and I think it may have been a hug from beyond the (horsey) grave.

I’ll spare you all the crazy bizarro setup details of my dream, because they really aren’t that interesting.  The bottom line was that I was back at camp for a reunion, and I went with a group of people to help clean the stables.  In my dream, the camp had built a huge barn with dozens and dozens of stalls.  As I walked through an aisle, I spotted my most favorite horse ever: Whiskers.

“But they told me Whiskers was dead!” I exclaimed.  “Whiskers, is that you?”  I called to him.  His chestnut coat, the thin, crooked stripe down his face, and the white spots on his chest that made him look adorably freckled were unmistakable.  There were two doors in his stall, and he went out the back one, through an aisle, and cut through another horse’s stall (yeah, the dream barn was configured a bit oddly!) all to get to ME.  He walked up to me and I gave him a huge hug around the neck.  It seemed to last forever and I just kept saying, “I can’t believe you still remember me and you are alive!”  It was like hugging a cloud or the luck dragon from The Neverending Story — I thought I would get lost in the warmth and softness.  I woke up so happy from that dream.

See, the real Whiskers died about two years ago.  He would be 20 if he were alive today, so he didn’t get to be very old.  He had been gradually going blind for several years, and he got to a point where he was attacking his horsie friends out of frustration, so camp had to get rid of him.  I am sure the horse trader sold him at auction and he went to slaughter.  That is just what happens.  When I was visiting camp last year for a reunion, I walked into the tack room and saw Whiskers’ name placket from his saddle holder on the wall.  I knew in an instant that meant he was gone.

Back when my time working at camp was ending (the last time I worked there was a weekend in 2004), Whiskers was having some problems with his vision, but it wasn’t affecting him very much.  He was still spunky and fast and never liked to be caught.  He was always kind of flighty and a little bit wild.  He would never be 100% tame and docile.  It was a special treat for him to approach me in the pasture.  Usually it took some effort and coaxing to catch him.  He had a knack for knowing if I needed to tell him goodbye for a long time or a shoulder (a big, hairy shoulder) to cry on, though, and only on those special occasions would he really let me hug him for very long.

I guess he realized I never got a chance to say goodbye for real.

The last time I saw him was January of 2006.  I was in town for a quick visit and I got to take him for a short ride through the snowy woods.  He was more cautious than I remembered, but his spunk and smooth Tennessee Walking Horse gait was still there.  Though I didn’t know for sure, I suspected I was pregnant with my first child.  I was, and so I can always know that my daughter got her first horse ride on Whiskers.  He was eager to go back to pasture that day and only allowed a brief hug.  So maybe last night he decided I needed one.  Or maybe my subconscious just really misses horses right now.

Either way, it was good seeing you, Whiskers.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Grandma
    Jan 05, 2011 @ 15:40:06

    Oh my, sniffle sniffle where’s the kleenex! Making me cry and I don’t even know why!



  2. Katie's mom
    Jan 05, 2011 @ 16:12:40

    Erin, I love your story about whiskers! About animals and heaven, you should read “Heaven”, a big book by Randy Alcorn. Nope, I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard that he talks about animals being in heaven. Interesting…

    Hugs to you!



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