Yesterday Pope Francis assured a little boy that someday, he’d get to rejoin his beloved dog in heaven. Whether you believe in heaven or not, this was both a wonderful, humane gesture on the part of the Pope, and extremely savvy marketing, because here’s Hollywood’s most unbreakable rule: you can kill or maim just about anyone, and still retain the audience’s sympathy, but you must never, ever, in any way, harm a dog. People love their dogs more than they love their children, because dogs love them back in the most uncomplicated, irresistible way. If a character kicks or, God forbid, shoots a dog, that character is toast.
Strangely, the Catholic church has been debating the ultimate fate of animals for centuries. Some Popes have insisted that when animals die, they go nowhere, because animals don’t have souls. Other, less unpleasant Popes have decreed that God loves all of His creatures, and welcomes them into paradise. Which of course, has made me wonder, but what about the bad dogs? Do the pitbulls who bite children end up in heaven, or are they required to linger in puppy limbo for a few millenia? Where do the Jewish dogs go? A dear Southern friend of mine had an uncle, who’d explained that when dogs died, they went to dog heaven, which wasn’t as top-notch as human heaven, but it was still heaven. Jews, this fellow noted, also went to dog heaven.
Carnivores, and the people who run McDonalds, are nervous about the current Pope’s words, fearing that if cows have souls, consumers may begin turning vegetarian. Some people won’t eat anything with eyes: will they eat something with a soul and an afterlife?
Here’s why dogs aren’t merely equal to human beings, but far superior: dogs never have bitter debates over which species are going to heaven.
How could anything this cute not have a soul?