Opinion: Thou shalt have no dogs before me

Why does the Catholic Church teach that there must remain a categorical difference between the love we give to human persons and what we give to animals?

(Image: Karsten Winegeart/Unsplash.com)

Is dog your co-pilot? Or perhaps dogs, plural? As playful and satirical as such bumper stickers may be, Americans truly have become a nation devoted to their pets. Many have sought comfort and companionship from dogs and cats during the epidemic and quarantine, evidenced by the fact that shelters are literally running out of animals. “They’re going like hot cakes,” an operator of a Maryland animal shelter told the Washington Post a month ago. Yet the frenzy to procure a pet to cure the coronavirus blues may reflect a far more concerning sickness.

In a recent op-ed, Arizona State University professor Fernanda Santos declared: “A snake bit my cat. Clearing out my bank accounts to save him was an easy choice.” Santos explains that treatment for her beloved “Rocky” exceeded the balances of both her checking and savings accounts, totally more than $6,200. Such an expense for a housepet, however arresting to some readers, is increasingly common for many Americans.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Surveys, between 2013 and 2019, expenses related to housepets were one of the fastest-growing spending categories. In 2013, Americans spent about $57.8 billion on their pets — comparable with what they spent on alcohol. By 2019, they were spending $15 billion more on canines and felines than on booze, amounting to a whopping $90 billion. Spending on dog treats alone rose 44 percent between 2015 to 2020, according to data firm Euromonitor.

Indeed, Ben & Jerry’s recently announced the debut of “Doggie Desserts”: four-ounce cups of mostly nondairy frozen treats, featuring flavors like “pumpkin with cookies” and “peanut butter and pretzels”. The treats — which will go for between $3-$5 — are nondairy because some dogs don’t tolerate lactose well. The famous ice cream brand even did taste-testing with dogs owned by company employees to ensure the very best product.

Some might say that such opulence is required given our current harrowing circumstances, defined by loneliness and depression — and not just of humans. In September, the Washington Post offered an entire separate insert in the daily print-edition discussing the effects of the coronavirus on our pets. “Pets are finding the pandemic disorienting. Their routines have been upended, and everyone’s wearing a mask,” observed one article. The WaPo even queried faithful readers on how their animals were coping with the pandemic — not well, we are told, as they suffer increased anxiety and put on the quarantine pounds. Thus another essay urges concerned readers, “Don’t let your pets get lonely when things go back to normal.”

But what is normal when it comes to the domesticated animals we welcome into our homes and declare to be members of our families? In the Catechism of the Catholic Church §2418 we read the following: “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.” Given that last year Americans spent approximately $100 billion on their pets, one must wonder who, or what, is the recipient of our greatest affections.

Certainly we seem to be treating our animals as well, if not better, than we treat many of our fellow citizens. We feed our pets decadent treats, buy them expensive toys, and clothe them in absurd luxury clothes while 59 million Americans live on some form of welfare, and more than 29 million American children receive low-cost or free lunches. We take the time to carefully analyze the emotional and psychological health of our animals while often remaining oblivious to the needs of our immediate neighbors. We spend hours walking our pets and entertaining them, while across every age cohort, volunteering among Americans has declined since 2005, according to the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute.

The Internet is loaded with articles from the likes of the Chicago Tribune, New Republic, and Fatherly.com, arguing that having a pet prepares one for parenthood. Indeed, I’ve heard many couples assert that owning a dog is a good trial run for having a child on the basis that they will share joint responsibility for a living creature. Yet many Americans increasingly choose never to even bother with “graduating” into parenting actual children, and remain forever ersatz mothers and fathers of four-legged creatures that, however adorable and enjoyable, simply are not persons.

Why does the Catholic Church teach that there must remain a categorical difference between the love we give to human persons and what we give to animals? For one, because humans are created in the image of God, and thus possess an unparalleled dignity among all of God’s creation. Secondly, humans, by virtue of their intellect and will, have an immaterial soul that is oriented toward transcendent ends and is superior to that of animals, who possess only sense-knowledge. And, thirdly, I would surmise that the Church perceives that there is a fundamental distinction in the kind of relationship one can have with an animal versus a human.

Dogs are devoted to their masters and can be trained to follow instructions. Cats, however fastidious and supercilious, will stay around as long as there’s food and a place to sleep. Not so humans. We are complex beings with unique personalities and histories, driven by all manner of motivations, some noble and others base. We are capable of both heroic virtue and sacrifice, as well as cowardice and greed. We can manifest true agape love, yet also wicked, destructive forms of hatred and violence. In a word, we are sinful humans in need of redemption.

Animals require no redemption. Christ did not incarnate in order to save and divinize our pets. He came to save and divinize us, all of us. As Christians, we are called to participate in Christ’s redemptive work on earth, which means demonstrating that same self-sacrificial love for our fellow man. I find it hard to imagine any circumstance under which it would be morally permissible to lavish any luxury good on a pet who is happy enough eating the cheapest fare.

Where we spend our time, affection, and income says a lot about what matters most to us. As our Lord once rebuked the wicked: “For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me” (Matt 25:42-43). It would be a shame if the reason why was because we were too busy pampering our pets.

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About Casey Chalk 43 Articles
Casey Chalk is a contributor for Crisis Magazine, The American Conservative, and New Oxford Review. He has degrees in history and teaching from the University of Virginia and a master's in theology from Christendom College.


  1. People seem to be replacing children with dogs. Or at least filling a childless void with dogs.
    And there’s a huge pet industry profiting from that. Not to mention veterinarians.
    After I saw my doctor for a check up I took my dog to the vet for an exam. The basic check up price at the vet’s was ten dollars higher than the price of my doctor visit.

    I’ve learned to dose my dog by weight with sheep drench to prevent heartworms. It’s the same ivermectin used in dog meds but agricultural products cost pennies per dose. I guess farmers can’t be guilted into spending ridiculous amounts of money on their sheep and goats like dog owners can.

    My dog turned 18 this month and I know I’ll miss his ornery presence when he goes to his reward but he’s not my son nor a “fur baby “.

  2. I am 77, presently I live with Jack the (12 year old lame) wonder dog, before him it was Bo, before him Spike II, before him Duke, before him Uncle Max, etc. My dogs don’t think of me as their master, although I have many of the works of Albert Payson Terhune from my long-vanished childhood – they think of me as their daddy. I spoil them and I make sure they know beyond a doubt that they are loved. I once visited a friend in Indiana who had a few labs and he showed me a trick he had taught one of them. In response I said – “Spike – BREATHE!!!” And he did so. Later on one of his dogs gave me a look which said “I wish I was your dog – you get it.” For 10 years I took Spike to a doggie-day care establishment twice a week and he loved it. The lady who ran the place was great with the dogs and more than once I was there and there would be a cacophony of barks and she would say “QUIET!!!” and 99% of the time that would work, and if it didn’t – she would pick up the squirt gun – that never failed. And it never failed to make both of my nieces in Boston laugh when I said “doggie day-care”.

    This piece is more than a bit silly.

    BTW – I go to Mass twice a week (60 mile round trip) and read every Thursday.

      • The primary reason I quit the Catholic Church over its teachings is, AS A CHILD I loved animals (still do) like many, if not most children. I was being indoctrinated to regard as ethically “normal” stripping other animals of any moral standing in order to uphold human exceptionalism and facilitate human domination over them without moral qualms. When it comes down to human wants, needs and human pleasures versus animal lives and suffering, all the major religions fail. As long as they consider animals “property,” given no moral standing, and abusing them is not considered a sin and a crime–no matter how many encyclicals the Pope issues talking about the “value” of animals “in the eyes of the Lord” — it is lip service, it is political, it is public relations–they are simply empty abstractions that change nothing. “…a Neapolitan peasant, having learned from his parish priest that animals are not ‘moral persons,’ can go home after Mass and with a clear conscience give his donkey a thorough taste of the switch.” — “Men, Beasts, and Gods – A History of Cruelty and Kindness to Animals” — G. Carson

        Scientific studies on the evolutionary continuity of mental, emotional, and social experience shared by ALL animals–even humans a/k/a divine legends in their own minds–prove beyond a doubt that ALL animals are no mere “thoughtless brutes,” “objects,” “resources,” or “property,” but this Cartesian and Jesuit fable is what most humans of all groups still believe, probably because it is comfortable and convenient to do so.
        This is perhaps a reason why our religions and laws are so against allocating animals their rights and acknowledging their dignity – because our misdeeds can never find justification and our view of ourselves as beautiful, benevolent, kind, thoughtful, generous, and compassionate beings “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26) would be exploded for the lie that it is.

        • Well written. Love of an animal is no sin, love of any living thing is not wrong. Good on you, I like what you say. I love animals, most are kinder than humans, why should they not be treated well, after all God made them didn’t he.. I do my best for humans, but an animal that needs care us also a priority, no more, no less.

  3. All those treats, all those cat trees, vests and boots for dogs, agility competitions, all that stuff–someone must build those things. Some one must make those things. People have jobs because of those things. They get paid to do work–as oppose to getting welfare and do nothing.
    My single biggest problem with the Church as She seems completely uninterested in what an “economy” is, and how it efficiently works.
    Some years back–when Obama got into office and the economy tanked, I remember vividly a text box conversation on an Catholic news site where some women were joyful over some other rich woman having to let go of her house keeper. Oh happy day! The rich lady got humbled. No thought given to the house keeper who lost her job.

  4. If you raise a dog,then go away like a soldier. Then return home,,your dog would run crazy around you and piss on the floor.This can be heart warming for sure.Most if not all people fail to realize Hitlers dog did the same thing

    • You know Joe, I can’t help but wonder why you decided to pollute this comm box with gutter language ? You come across as a pretty decent and likeable chap, then you decide to foul the atmosphere, rather like your dog used to do. Our little dog also used to welcome me home in similar fashion, but from time to time, could not always control himself.
      Please don’t do it again Joe. I’m certain the good dog-liking readers here would appreciate it.
      Thanks Brother.

  5. Some dogs have a heroic nature. Two people are drowning in the water, The dog will jump in and seek to save, but it doesn’t know the difference between mother Teresa. Or. Hitler.

  6. The need for love and affection by pet owners can create idiosyncrasies in some, which can border on the ridiculous. Nevertheless, I believe that we should look to the positives in pet ownership, as dogs have accompanied man and his offspring over millennia.

    Written many years ago in regards to a loved one’s pet West Highland White dog.

    Artic blow frost ice and snow
    Never alone we hunt meat and bone
    Flashing eye open sky
    Snarling growl always on the prowl
    But sharing love we understood
    Howling call each night and morn
    Open plain, mountain terrain
    Forest, moor, running paw
    My lineage before I knew man
    In pack, I ran

    Now here I am
    White wolf’s coat for me bespoke
    Pointed ears I carried your fears
    Keen sense barking defense
    Upright tail and Lion’s mane
    Black nose, cheeky pose
    Medium size, bright eyes, playful surprise
    For each generation, I meet man’s expectation
    Hardy stock mountain hill and lock
    Snow, sleet, or rain to me the same
    In Highland Glen, they know me well
    Crofter’s cottage search and forage or bowl of porridge
    Bleating sheep hide and seek
    Heather and thistledown
    But now I live in town
    Friendly stance, dance, and prance
    A special treat, pattering feet
    Playful paw I want some more
    Tilted head curiosity fed
    Bugs Bunny just as funny
    Walking bark, make a start
    Open sky my spirit still doe’s sigh
    Night and day I will play
    Winning sash but never brash
    Loyal friend, you I will defend

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

    • My late husband had a white West Highland also.
      I truly get frustrated with the whole dogs-as-substitute-children phenomena but I have to admit there is something unique about the bond between dogs & their owners that occasionally goes beyond what we can understand.
      St. John Bosco even had a dog that may have been a kind of Guardian Angel.
      So, yes the current trends may be ridiculous but dogs really can be quite special in their own way.

    • A German Shepherd, Doberman and a cat have died. All three are faced with God, who wants to know what they believe in.

      The German shepherd says, “I believe in discipline training and loyalty to my master.”

      “Good,” says God. “Then sit down on my right side. Doberman, what do you believe in?”

      The Doberman answers, “I believe in the love, care and protection of my master.”

      “Ah, yes,” said God. “You may sit to my left.”

      Then he looks at the cat and asks, “And what do you believe in?”

      The cat answers, “I believe you’re sitting in my seat.”

  7. This article is soooooo on the $. We presently have multitudes of elderly and ill people quarantined from our love. We have countless children aborted before they see the light of day! I believe that society’s growing interest in pets can be shown to be in a reverse correlation with our concern for other human beings!

  8. I believe in a God that was born in a stable, next to the animals, and He would want humans to be comforted by their pets during this trying time. Often I wonder where my $ goes when giving to my local parish; i.e., lawyers, victims, insurance companies…? !!! the Mother Cabrini Foundation ?

    • Diane, I totally agree. Dogs & cats respond to loving kindness with unconditional love. They are helpless, without options, and at the mercy of our society. My dogs are rescues, special needs, elderly. I stand between them and certain euthansia. In return, they give me love, companionship and happiness, make me laugh. It is our governor who keeps us humans isolated and alone, faces covered, only the animals are allowed to be with us during this pandemic. That vets & pet suppliers take advantage of this opportunity is no surprise. But love for animals and need for their totally accepting companionship is not (yet) forbidden by those who grab power. Fur babies? yes, in a way. I have 2 children also, and we cannot gather together because there are more than 6 of us. (What was your Christmas celebration like this year?) I can pick up my pups, hug and kiss them, feel the comfort of a warm living creature in my arms. They are God’s gift to me. And I will take care of their needs.

      • Kathy, very well said. My dear husband passed away a year and a half ago, my son is away at college. I am all alone, and I am OK with that. But I do have my 2 little rescue dogs that I adopted and without their companionship, I might be having a more difficult time adjusting. They bring me much joy and happiness, only wanting a square meal, warmth and a cozy sleeping space. No complaints, no judgments from them. And yes, I do my fair share, and them some, for less fortunate people in my community. It’s all about balance. This article is very narrow-minded.

    • I think, as with many things, there is a balance. I love my dog and I am sure to take good care and protect her. She has the run of the furniture and the beds, and we are kind to her and appreciate what she adds to the family. But she is not my child. Or my grandchildren. I would not spend thousands of dollars to keep her alive. I totally agree with the author of this article that we are here on this earth, by God’s grand design, in this place and time, to help each other get to heaven. And since pets aren’t in need of redemption, I believe we will be with them in heaven. And that gives me great peace.

  9. Generally you will find pet lovers to be kind and caring towards people. Pets are Gods reminder to us people of that wonderful quality of unconditional love. Always happy to see and be with us.
    It is a visible reminder of how God love us—unconditionally. They are God’s gift to us.

  10. Certainly the article is right on target. We love our pets; his comment about cats is supercilious, but that’s fine; it’s his opinion. But it’s nauseating to see women with tee shirts that say “dog mother,” etc. (If she thought about it, she’d realize that makes her a BITCH!) However there is no excuse for hunger in this country. Look around and see who is on welfare. Granted there are people who hate being there; my mother would have died before she’d be “on the dole.” Many of those on welfare have no problem with their kids having free breakfasts and lunches and are quick to tell us that we “owe” it to them. AS taxpayers, we spend millions of dollars feeding the “poor.” Free medical/dental care, etc. Parts of it regarding pets are true. Go to Italy, though, and see feral cats everywhere. Like the curate’s egg, parts of it are good. But…only parts.

  11. “Why was this ointment not sold and the money given to the poor?”

    What a cranky, holier-than-thou attitude. My dogs have always been great company for me when my husband has been away on business; now that we are retired, we enjoy them and they enrich our lives. This article sets up a false dichotomy as if having our pets as part of our families somehow takes away from what we do for humans. Perhaps, rather, in a dog’s love and devotion, Christ can reach a scarred or fearful heart and enable the healing that can empower that person to give themselves for others. Or perhaps it’s just that love multiplies. As to activities and money spent, how do you know that those same people DON‘T give generously of their time, talent, and treasure for the betterment of their brothers and sisters?

    What was the point here? To correct, reprove, to show us our faults because we love our pets? Or, as with many “opinion” columns, to exercise pharaisacal self-enjoyment at the straw men set up solely for that purpose? I would argue it’s the latter. Go pet a puppy, sir. You’ll feel much better.

    • I’m Just a bit worried about such a negative person having pets of his own if he’s already so conditional about ownership. I have 4 dogs, all rescue’s, two of which are totally blind, I also rescue and rehabilitate previously abused, abandoned and neglected cats… It can take a cat as long as three years to regain their trust of humans and its so rewarding to see that trust growing. Once I’ve rescued them, they remain with us. Each one has a name, and the correct cats single themselves out to come to me when they hear their names being called. There’s never any confusion about that… so they are mentally very bright! I try to avoid making my rescues totally depenent on me for their playtime needs, preferring to encourage them to intergrate with each other so that they can run and play together… especially outside where they have trees to climb etc. It is a service of love for me to care for them but I do not refer to them as my fur-babies, neither do I ever dress them up and expect them to be human. Our oldest lady Cat “Lacey” is 15 years of age, and our youngest is one year old! We are well sponsered with cat food, so we don’t have any fears about that.

  12. It is very weird indeed to see what has become of so many young people and married couples as they opt for pets over children.Especially young women.Why look for a husband when you can have a cat,dog or even a goldfish to pronounce your undying love too? I love pets as much as the next guyy,but to dress them up for Halloween or any other event
    is strange.Pets pay no taxes and certainly won’t be able to take care of you as you age.The thought of raising and caring for children gets a “Bum” rap.It’s Gods Divine Plan for life and joy in this world.I would write more,but I have to hurry home and feed the dogs.

  13. As a Catholic who is already angry with the Church considering their actions with our so called Catholic President Biden, and the abortion issue, I am now even more incensed. How dare the Church tell me how to spend my dollars using the word of the Lord to make pet owners feel guilty. Lucky for the Church that my husband donates weekly to our parish because if it is ever my decision to donate they will not get a dollar from me! I don’t need the Church to pray!

  14. Of course there are always extreme examples of everything. There are many benefits to pets that far out weigh the extremes presented in this article. I can’t help but conclude that Mr. Chalk must have never had a pet or else was scared by an animal as a child. How unfortunate for him.

    • Meow, Janet! Your biblical quote was so right on, as is your comment. Imagine this author denigrating the fact that animal shelters around the country have run out of pets because it was a cure for COVID blues. The horror!

  15. Do chickens count as pets and as qualified alternatives to dogs? If so, then they stop laying, can I dispatch them and have them for supper?

    I love it when dog owners walk their dogs and stoop down with their plastic bags to scoop up their excrement. It is an apt metaphor for what’s become of our culture.

  16. God gave us pets as companions and I am grateful having been a dog owner more than once. Dogs give much pleasure, and for some are their only friend. Dogs don’t judge, or shame us. No one is ever embarrassed in front of a dog. The investment in a dog is limited, to not a lifetime , but just a decade or so. I see the “animal rights” movement blurring and attempting to erase the difference between human and animal. This is where the overspending , shaming , anthromorphization, baby substitution, start to influence the culture. Euthanasia is approved because we equate animals and humans on the same plane. Spoiling dogs is silly; not as serious as spoiling a child but both dog and child are hurt by the misplaced and distorted view of love . Its another manifestation of our society losing its way. Subtle , easy to dismiss, but real with consequences.

  17. Story


    It was the last Sunday of September in Valparaiso, Indiana and it was hot as it needed to be. I came to 8:30 Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Valpo. It was quite hot and I made sure to park the pickup in the shade and leave the windows open and then went to Mass after admonishing Max (aka the dog Maxwell) to STAY in the truck.

    After Fr. Mike, the Franciscan priest who was the pastor of the Parish, had read the Gospel and given the homily, he proceeded to tell us that in accordance with Franciscan tradition the next Sunday – The First Sunday in October – there would be the traditional blessing of the animals, in honor of the anniversary of the death of St. Francis, who was known for his love of animals, indeed to some he is the Patron Saint of animals.

    It was at that time that I heard a clicking sound on the floor – a marble floor – and I also heard laughter in the back of the Church. I turned and looked and there was Max looking for me, and everyone who saw him was laughing because he was so silly and so friendly. I called him (severely) and he came running up to me – sliding the last few yards or so. We started out of the Church together and everyone in the Church was laughing, and then came Fr. Mike’s voice.


    Everything stopped, not a sound in the Church while we all waited for the pronouncement from the Pulpit.

    “Max – it’s NEXT week.”

    The Church erupted in laughter, and as long as I was in that Parish – 8 more years – people whom I didn’t know would come up to me and tell me how they remembered that.

    OMT – Fr. Mike remembers that story too, and when I had Max put down I brought his ashes to the Parish and Fr. Mike made up a ceremony while I buried Max’s ashes while crying my eyes out under the statue of the dog with the Statue of St. Francis.

    And they’re still there.

  18. “But it’s nauseating to see women with tee shirts that say “dog mother,” etc. (If she thought about it, she’d realize that makes her a BITCH!) ”
    That’s what I’ve tried to explain to my vet. If my dog is my “son” what does that imply about me?

  19. In countries like Spain or Italy the issue is rather that dogs and cats or animals in general are far too often treated with various grades of disrespect. Abuse of animals is sadly common as is the abandoning of pets.
    I have noticed that talking fondly of my cat usually result in silence or even a little frowning. Priests no exceptions. One wonders where they learnt this dismissing attitude. Since when would holiness rely on disrespecting animals?
    Didn’t St Francis of Assisi love animals? Always treating them with love and respect.
    Isn’t it a much worse problem in the world that animals in general are abused and cruelly tortured in slaughterhouses and on their sometimes weeks long journey to the slaughterhouses? Without food and water for days or weeks!There are harrowing reports on this which are truly sickening and just makes one cry.
    Moreover; the enormous costs for treatments in American veterinary clinics are just a mirror of the obsession with money in the US. Perverse. In Europe the costs are minimal in comparison.
    The always quoted saying that animals don’t have a soul, with which I agree, can definitely never serve as an excuse to treat animals with cruelty or disregard.
    I love my beautiful cat but that doesn’t impede me from donating to Church in Need, to the parish collections every day at Mass and more.

    • As a pet and animal owner (dogs, cats, chickens, horses), I think it’s fair and accurate to say that the essay was not at all in favor of treating animals poorly. Quite the contrary. Moreover, it was looking at the situation in the United States.

      “I have noticed that talking fondly of my cat usually result in silence or even a little frowning.”

      That’s unusual, in my experience. Most people are, I find, quite positive about pets or (if not pet owners) at least neutral. Personally, I don’t expect other people to be much concerned about my pets, but I do think they would be concerned if I put more time and energy into them than into the raising and nurturing of my children. And that, of course, is one of the main points of Mr. Chalk’s essay.

      • You are entirely right Mr. Olson. I would contend that exaggerated animal loving can be a form of moral displacement and moral compensation for a conscience repressed from living with such things as a tolerance for exterminating the unborn. This same moral displacement takes other familiar forms, like an uncritical passion for accepting environmental catastrophes in order to find a kind of perverse comfort in faulting humanity for not eliminating humanity down to acceptable levels.
        But I think the way many among the religious react to questions about animals has to do with how they harbor some legitimate resentment over simplistic judgments on the status of beloved innocent creatures in eternity, which is not and never has been a settled question in Catholic theology. Particular opinions of particular great theologians at particular times do not define an answer. There is evidence that Aquinas changed his mind on the matter to the affirmative. No one has ever been an animal. No one knows their exact capacity for thought. Anyone who says they can not be clever has never played touch football with any of my dogs.

        Regardless, animals suffer, and suffering is never meaningless. Animals have exhibited altruistic behavior. And the argument that animals are of a lower order is meaningless. So why couldn’t they retain a place in eternity although with the same proportional lesser capacities than man.

        • I think the answer to what sort of creatures God allows in Heaven is that we just don’t know. If we are reunited there with our faithful dog do we also meet the chickens who provided our lunch at Popeye’s? They benefited us also in an important way. As did the hamburger and bacon in my freezer.

          I believe that God can use animals in ways we have no explanation for. Scripture gives us examples of that.
          God set up the laws of Nature but He is not constrained by those laws.
          Animals given entrance into Heaven isn’t something we should construct a theology around because it could get pretty silly, but we can’t tell the Creator what He’s allowed to do with His Creation either.

          • Neither should we construct a theology that presumes to preclude the idea, which has been a much more prevalent inclination, and one delivered with an unfounded level of arrogance and insensitivity, sometimes cruel insensitivity over the centuries. When someone has to resort to cruel insensitivity, that’s usually a good indicator that they are barking up the wrong theological tree.

      • I assume that you are referring to your experiences in non Mediterranean nations?It is nothing new that the poor treatment of animals in southern Europe is much referred to in northern Europe. Since many decades
        Things have become better compared to 50 years ago. But still far from satisfactory.

  20. From Peter Kreeft’s book “Every Thing You Wanted to Know About Heaven”, Ignatius Press:
    Question: Are there Animals in Heaven?
    Response: The simplest answer is: Why not? How irrational is the prejudice that would allow plants (green fields and flowers) but not animals in Heaven… Scripture seems to affirm this.. (he then quotes from Ps 36). Animals belong in the ‘New Earth’ as much as trees… ‘Is my dead cat in Heaven?’ Again, why not? God can raise up the very grass (Gen 1:28); why not cats?” (p.45).
    And what about the poor and homeless who have pets? Many feed there pets before themselves! Are you critical of them also?

  21. Two more days for feast of St. Valentine and guess the author desires through the article to direct our focus to the ‘narrow path ‘ , of walking in His Will as His Love ..
    Citing the good article related to the words of the Holy Father on pet ownership , in the compassionate heart of love for the poor –
    Came across a surprise find too – the seemingly minor yet not so difference in the wordings of scripture , in the passages of Mark – ‘ who so ever leaves father and mother ..’ https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Mark%2010%3A29
    the ‘wife ‘ is not mentioned in the Catholic ones , since the promise is for this world , whereas ones such as the KJV version add the word ‘wife ‘- ? reason for the confusions when it comes to marriage and related issues among those who follow such versions and even in lands that have a predominance of such , with more discord in such areas against The Church ..and may be such persons can follow the lead of The Church and omit that one word ..
    The promise in Mathew that sounds close , yet is not for this world !
    The Song of Songs , considered as given us also as an innocent means of honoring and cherishing the holy love that Solomon was prophesying about , in the courtship of the parents of Bl.Mother …those who yearn for human affection can reach in to cherish such , to make it easier to give up for His sake , what need to be , trusting in His promises . 🙂

  22. I am currently spending $$$$ to keep my dog going with Cushing disease and diabetes. I sleep on the couch to be readily available to let her out 3 or 4 times in the night. My husband, with dementia
    , loves her. Let us be gentle with pet owners.

  23. The issue is not whether we love and care too much for our dogs, its whether we let them be dogs. I have had dogs my entire life. My most recent was a hearty black lab. My fondest memory of her was walking through the woods with her running ahead of me submarining her face in a long deep mud puddle then looking back at me excitedly as this sloppy mixture dripped from her muzzle. Sheba slept on the carpet floor, she stayed in the living when I ate in the dining room; she didn’t sit begging under the table. She didn’t have to sleep in my bed like so many dogs do now (sometimes multiple dogs) and in between married couples. She was my dog, not my “girl”, not my “baby”. I brought her home from the pound not home from the hospital, I didn’t “adopt” her: I didn’t give her my last name; I walked her a lot but I didn’t walk her down the aisle. So many pets that I come across these days have a sort of neurosis that goes beyond just being rescued. They don’t even seem to understand that they are dogs anymore because they are so much the object of affection of their owners’ imaginations. I have relatives that come over for the holidays and if I were not welcoming to their dogs, I would be perceived as mean. I would be judged as one who just “doesn’t understand”. What I don’t understand is how they can invite their pets to jump and lay on my furniture without even asking if this is OK. True dog lovers like me – who love them for their breed and thus their nature – are no longer in the “dog lover club” because we don’t think that pets should be walked around or pushed in carts in grocery stores, or sit on bank teller counters where wesign deposit slips, or be consulted in mattress purchases. I went through the drive thru of my bank a few weeks back. I saw the teller passing out snacks to a dog in the car in fromt of me. I was hungry for not having eaten for a while so when it came my turn I joked with the teller that they should have snacks for the customers. She didn’t get it. I think a lot of people commenting here don’t get it. However, let them do as they will because they are kind and caring for the most part and are not mistreating their pet unless one considers it mistreatment to over-treat them and bungle their nature. It’s about time for a new dog for me and when I get one, I can guarantee that I will treat it like the dog that it is, and it will be much happier for it.

    • I didn’t “adopt” my dog either. I bailed him out of the pound.
      It’s very true that dogs need to be dogs and that can go a long way to preventing some behavioral issues.
      I think the whole point isn’t about demeaning pets or pet owners but just reminding us that everything has it’s proper place in Creation.

  24. What took so long for something like this to be published? When I was a boy folks had one dog, just one, now it’s a pack you see on the streets and they’re not dog walkers. The family has become the center of the family. That said, I know that older people in particular benefit significantly from a dog companion. Many years ago I went downstairs to pay rent to my landlady. She began to cry, “Toby’s gone.” Toby was perfect pet for her, docile, uncomplaining. Her children and even grandchildren visited her every day but in the evening she would sit and watch reruns the Waltons and Touched by an Angel with Toby. She was a devout Catholic and when I converted she gave me a beautiful rosary and crucifix. Then there is the story told by a caller to a radio talk show. He had spent up to 5,000 dollars on a very sick dog. The veterinarian told him that there was a dog hospital upstate he could fly the dog to. How much? $25,000 dollars for the procedure. The man said to his children, “Say goodbye to Fido.” Perspective is necessary. I see people with dogs in baby carriages, driving with the dog in their lap (BTW if that airbag deploys …) etc. I’ve never seen so many dogs in public over the years. And, yes, the money. I see the good but I also see children lost to the digital companions. When I worked at a bookstore in lower Manhattan decades ago, the hispanic maids from the hotel across the street would come in and buy supplemental school exercise material for their children. I respected their priorities.

  25. Except perhaps for a close second. Yes it smacks of idolatry, but Catholics luckily can confess their sins. Tasha is not a preferable name for someone who thinks of himself as an alpha male of sorts. I had no choice. Stationed in a small town on the edge of the Blue Wilderness AZ we were the only show in town. A Methodist family that ran the general store regularly attended Sunday Mass and decided I needed a pet. Dropped off Tasha, a black long haired female pup, the last dog I wanted [fond memories of Phantom, a male black lab]. Their entreaties were so kind their little girl looked me in the eye I relented. Decided to call her Blue, it didn’t work. All the kids in town called her Tasha. As it turned out Tasha [when grown up] dashed through the forests like a black wolf, guarded me relentlessly when out in the Wilderness, sat up front next to me in my Bronco made acquaintances who stopped to admire her because she was a beautiful dog. My brother on a visit said Tasha had the “look of love”. Maybe that rubbed off on me because I became kinder, gentler. She’s buried now by a giant evergreen by my door. The little Methodist girl had once asked, Father do doggies go to heaven. I said no her withering stare caused me to think perhaps so who knows the mind of God?

  26. The dog is a wonderful animal and has done much for humanity. It should be treated with the same loyalty it shows towards us. But there is no denying that the obsession with pets is another aspect of our twisted, perverse culture. My child-free niece calls her dog her “daughter,” and she is quite serious about it. She would be incensed if I pointed out to her that a human life is worth infinitely more than a dog’s. It is her attitude that is fast becoming the norm today. Let’s stop pretending that it isn’t. People lavish extreme affection on animals that have no will of their own, because they cannot bear to engage in human relationships that require sacrifice, understanding, compromise, and sometimes disappointment and tragedy.

    • Timothy J. Williams – Are you delusional? Obsession with pets is an aspect of our twisted, perverse culture? Any “obsession” with pets that has been exhibited in recent decades has been one of the few redeeming traits of American society. Organized, dogmatic(no pun intended)faith is the real, definitive toxin in our national life.

  27. When I was sick and on a psyche unit, the people from my church refused to visit me, telling me that I was “too dependent on the church”. When I was a child I felt unloved— except by God, and by my dog. I acknowledge there is a difference between the love we owe to humans and to animals,but thank God animals don’t make distinctions about the love they owe to us. My dogs always knew when I was suffering, and people didn’t. I am never going to apologize for the way I love animals. Maybe people who think we owe little to animals have always enjoyed the privilege of being loved by other people. Lots of us haven’t. Not even by our churches.

  28. When my CCD students asked me whether their dead pets were in heaven, I always said everything you need to be happy will be there. Calmed them right down.

    Not everyone is in a position to have children, especially in a society where single people make up a substantial % of the population. But even us single people can have a dog for the good company they give us. And my nephew and his wife had both been given yellow lab puppies for Christmas and met walking them shortly thereafter. I don’t know if the dogs are still alive, but the couple is raising 4 children so the dogs didn’t prevent them from doing the more important things in life. In fact, they helped bring it about.

  29. I have children, dogs, and cats. I love them all. Animals, all animals, not just our pets, must have a special place in Creation to us, because although they have no guilt from any sin, they still suffer from what OUR Original Sin did to the world, and to them. THEY do no evil. Dogs and cats have an even more special importance. WE made them. They are OUR own little creation. We MADE them to love us, to serve us, to rely on us. Every stray dog that starves to death in an alley, alone, afraid, forgotten, is a failure of mankind. Yes, WE OWE THEM. “What you have done to the least of these . . . ” I absolutely believe doesn’t mean JUST people. I don’t know if these creatures have souls, but I sure hope they’ll be with us in the Resurrection.

  30. Thank you, Casey Chalk, for reaffirming my decision to leave ‘the Church’ many years ago. “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went” – Will Rogers(that great American secular humanist)

    • Hi Monte, I hope you will give the Catholic Church another chance one day. It is resilient after 2000 years. I recommend Dr David Anders daily radio show on ewtn. He gladly responds intelligently thoughtfully respectfully to emails calls tweets, texts… to any person outside the Church. no pets though 🙂

  31. Feeling torn on what to do about cats with dental disease… two much loved furry companions are about 11-12 years old and have really bad back teeth. The vet keeps recommending me to have them surgically remove them to “improve their quality of life” and I’m sure lengthen their lifespan and possibly prevent other issues this will lead to- however, spending over $1,000 on a cat, per cat, for dental seems morally wrong… even though I love these cats and they are so sweet and I don’t want them to suffer unnecessarily… it still just seems wrong to spend that much on a cat for a surgery that isn’t exactly necessary? When that money could greatly benefit someone else? Anyone have any advice???

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