I have been blessed with many things in life and one of the most profound experiences I’m always grateful for is the companionship of my pets.
Do you heavily ponder about what happens after your dog crosses the rainbow bridge?
I know I have and many dog owners too.
The question “Do dogs have souls?” has intrigued philosophers, religious scholars and pet lovers alike for the longest time.
In this journey, we’ll delve into the depths of this intriguing question, unraveling the threads that bind us to our beloved four-legged friends.
What Exactly Is A Soul?
Ask 5 people what is a soul and you will most probably have 5 different answers.
I don’t think there is a definite and concrete answer to this question as it largely depends on your beliefs, both personal and religious.
Most religions would define a human soul as the inner spirit of a person that moves over to the spiritual realm after the person dies.
But I do feel that the definition of what a soul is shouldn’t just be confined to the spiritual realm or life after death.
You would have also heard the word ‘soul’ being used to describe someone such as ‘having no soul’ or the ‘life and soul of the party’.
To me, that does imply that having a soul is the very essence of a living creature, living beings that are able to feel, portray emotions as well as induce emotions in others.
Do All Dogs Have Souls?
This brings us back to the million-dollar question about our dogs having souls and not only humans.
C.S Lewis, who is one of my favorite authors, says it best when it comes to having a soul “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
In essence, it suggests that the core of our being, our consciousness, thoughts, emotions and experiences, the part of us that really makes us ‘us’, is our soul.
The body, on the other hand, is viewed as a temporary vessel or vehicle that the soul uses for its physical experiences and interactions in this physical plane.
Here are some reasons why I think our canine companions have souls.
The Joy of Tails and Wags
There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as the sight of your dog wagging its tail and jumping for joy when it sees you.
You can actually see the happiness in your dog’s eyes when this happens.
Even something as mundane as playing fetch with your dog’s favorite toy is enough to make it brim with excitement.
My dog goes bonkers with happiness when he knows I’m letting him sleep on my bed for the night.
These are moments that can bring a tear to our eyes.
A study has even shown that our dogs are capable of laughter, a sign of happiness once thought only possible in humans.
A dog’s laughter isn’t like ours but comes across as rhythmic panting which is easy to be mistaken for normal panting.
But it occurs at a frequency range that is different from just panting.
This emotional capacity suggests a level of consciousness and sentimentality that we humans associate with having a soul.
The Tears Behind The Whimpers
Not only is your dog capable of feeling joy and happiness but experiencing sadness is right there on its emotional spectrum too.
You can tell when your dog is feeling sad with its droopy ears, mopey behavior puppy dog eyes.
Canine sadness can manifest due to reasons such as the absence of their favorite human or changes in the environment.
But what stands as a significant testament to a dog’s capacity for deep emotions is its ability to grieve for a fellow pet companion or human owner.
There are many heart-wrenching stories of dogs who refuse to leave the graveside or show signs of depression when a human or pet they were close to passes away.
This shows a dog’s capability for profound emotions, mirroring the human experience of sadness and loss.
While dogs are not able to comprehend death in the way humans do, their reactions to loss hint at a depth of emotion that could possibly be associated with the existence of a soul.
If souls are tethered to the capacity to love and to grieve, then perhaps dogs do have souls.
Dogs Are Aware Of Themselves
One of the few things that separates humans and animals is the notion of self-awareness.
Many animals are not aware of themselves which is why many will react fearfully when they see themselves in the mirror.
Some will even attack their own reflection like how many cats would.
We, humans, are very aware of our existence and surroundings as compared to the inhabitants of the animal kingdom.
But a recent study showed that “Dogs recognize their own body as a physical obstacle.”
This means that our dogs are a lot more self-aware than we give them credit for.
The dogs were asked to pick up an object and give it to their owners while standing on a small mat.
But here’s the twist, the object was attached to the mat.
So, if the dogs tried to pick up the object without stepping off the mat, they couldn’t do it.
The researchers found that the dogs left the mat more often and quicker when the object was attached to the mat, compared to when it was attached to the ground.
This result shows us that a dog can be aware of its body in relation to the environment or circumstance its in.
While dogs may not recognize their own reflection in the mirror, they do exhibit signs of self-awareness in other ways.
For instance, dogs can identify their own scent and recall memories associated with specific events.
I have fostered dogs that can still recognize me even after years of not seeing them.
This suggests that dogs may have a form of self-recognition but at a more basic level.
The Moral Compass of Dogs
Having morals is defined as having “standards of behavior, principles of right and wrong”
If you’ve ever witnessed your dog appear to show guilt after nabbing a piece of steak off your plate, you’ve had a glimpse into the moral life of dogs.
This intriguing aspect of canine behavior provides another compelling argument for those who believe dogs have souls.
Dogs have been observed to follow what some scientists describe as a moral code.
They are able to show some degree of empathy and altruism, where they would help others in distress even if there is no immediate benefit to themselves.
A dog is more than willing to compromise its own safety to protect its family from harm.
Our dogs’ capacity to exhibit such behaviors suggests that they possess a complex emotional spectrum that points to the existence of a soul.
The Deep Bond Between Human and Dog
Have you ever looked at your dog and felt a connection that seems to go beyond mere companionship?
There are times when I feel that my dog understands me in a way that even my closest friends or family members don’t
Our dogs are remarkably attuned to our emotions given that they have been domesticated by us for a very long time.
They pick up on our moods, respond to our needs and often appear to empathize with our joys and sorrows.
This is why dogs are used as service animals due to the ability that they possess.
The bond between dog and human is so deep that a study has shown that dogs can dry tears of joy when being reunited with their owners.
This deep emotional connection doesn’t happen by chance.
Rather, it’s an indication of their emotional depth and social intelligence, qualities that many associate with the existence of a soul.
Where Do Dog Souls Go After Death?
Whenever I have a new pet, it won’t be long before I start dreading the day for us to say goodbye.
I tend to avoid videos of dying pets as it affects me too much but such is the circle of life.
The question of what happens to our beloved dog’s soul after death is one that tugs at our heartstrings.
A comforting belief shared by many pet lovers around the world is the concept of the “Rainbow Bridge”.
The Rainbow Bridge is described as a vibrant, heavenly meadow where our pets run free, basking in warmth and happiness, free of pain and suffering, waiting for the day they are reunited with their humans.
Although the idea of the Rainbow Bridge is not tied to any specific religion, it does provide some mental and physical relief from the pain that comes with losing a pet.
While it doesn’t answer the question of whether dogs have souls, it upholds the belief that the spirit of our dogs continues in some form which is full of love and joy.
That alone is comfort enough for many grieving dog owners.
And that the deep, soulful bond that we have formed with our dogs is not severed by death but continues into the beyond.
A bond of love is eternal and I’m honored to have that bond with my pets.