Sitting together on the back patio, Nannygranne was enjoying her time with nine-year-old Mason. She watched him run and wrestle with his faithful friend, Chief, the gentle giant Great Dane. Rocking with Tiger the yellow tabby in her lap, Nannygranne soaked up the innocence around her. Kids and animals: priceless. The sun was growing higher, warming the air. It was a perfect autumn morning.
Mason called out, “Watch this, Nannygranne!” He proceeded to play dead so that Chief would “rescue” him, nudging him over and over, trying to coax him to return to play. Then, laughing, Mason scrambled up, running toward Nannygranne, Chief happily barking after him. Breathless, he plopped down and stretched out on the wicker couch next to Nannygranne and the cat. “Nannygranne, why did God make cats and dogs? Will Chief get to go to Heaven, too?
Nannygranne smiled, remembering her own childhood companion, Penny. She, too, had been unable to imagine Heaven without friends like Penny. “God really did well when He made our pets, didn’t he, Mason.”
“Yep,” Mason agreed as he petted Chief’s huge head, now lying on Mason’s stomach.
“How about we get a snack and something to drink and see what God has told us about that. Sound good?”
“Yeah! Can we have some chips and dip?” Mason hoped since Mom wasn’t there to disagree.
“How about apple slices with peanut butter and honey,” Nannygranne offered.
Grinning good-naturedly, Mason admitted defeat. “OK. That’ll work.”
Sitting together at the patio table, Mason munched on his snack. Nannygranne began, “How about we look up verses about animals in the Bible? You remember singing the days of creation.
Day 1, Day 1, God made light when there was none.
Day 2, Day 2, God made clouds and skies of blue
Day 3, Day 3, God made plants and flowers and trees.
Day 4, Day 4, sun and moon and stars galore,
Day 5, Day 5, God made fish and birds that fly.
Sixth Day, Sixth Day, God made animals and man that day.
Singing boisterously, Mason dramatically bounced in his chair, wagging his head back and forth as Nannygranne laughed.
“So, the first thing God says about dogs is that He made them the same day as humans. But there was something different about humans. Do you remember what that was?”
Mason searched Nannygranne’s eyes for a hint.
“Here you can read it. This is an investigation!”
Mason leaned in, peering where Nannygranne pointed on the page.
“Gen 1:25-26 So God made every kind of animal. He made the wild animals, the tame animals, and all the small crawling things. And God saw that this was good. Then God said, “Now let’s make humans who will be like us. They will rule over all the fish in the sea and the birds in the air. They will rule over all the large animals and all the little things that crawl on the earth.”
“So what did God make different about animals and humans?”
Nannygranne waited, suppressing a smile while Mason scratched his chin, obviously in “deep deliberation.”
Finally, Mason ventured, “He said the animals were good, but He didn’t say the humans were.”
Nannygranne pointed to verse 31. “Well, in verse 31, after He looked all of it over, He said it was all good. Good try, though. Guess again.” She wanted Mason to make his own discovery.
“Well, He put the humans in charge of the animals and fish and birds and even the bugs!”
Mason had another thought. “Maybe God made them and us the same day because He knew we’d be friends!”
“Nice thought, Mason. What else did God do differently about humans that He didn’t do for the animals? This is the most important part, Mason. You’re a great investigator! Look closely. What do you find?” Nannygranne knew kids love a mystery, and so does God.
Peering again at the verses, Mason suddenly found the answer. “He said He’d make humans to be like Him!”
“Bingo, Sherlock! You see it! God made both. God made both good, but God made humans more than just good. He made us like Him and to take care of and be in charge of, the animals on earth.”
She turned the pages of her Bible to Genesis 9:3. “OK, Mason. Now let’s look at another reason God gave us animals. Now I warn you: You’ll meet a lot of people who don’t know about this. So let’s really think about what God is saying here.”
Mason leaned closer cautiously, unsure of where this was going. Then he read quietly,
“In the past, I gave you the green plants to eat. Now every animal will also be food for you. I give you everything on earth—it is yours.”
Mason looked up at Nannygranne in horror, “You mean God made dogs and cats to EAT?”
Laughing, Nannygranne said, “Hold your horses there, cowboy. God later said some animals were good to eat, but not all of them, and God didn’t allow His people to eat dogs.1 We’re not finished reading. Turning to 2 Samuel 12:3, she indicated Mason’s next reading.
Mason began to read.
“But the poor man had nothing except one little female lamb that he bought. The poor man fed the lamb, and the lamb grew up with this poor man and his children. She ate from the poor man’s food and drank from his cup. The lamb slept on the poor man’s chest. The lamb was like a daughter to the poor man.”
“Mason, we see two things in the passages you read. God made animals for food, but animals can also be our best friends. The people in that part of the world sometimes kept sheep for pets. In that country, dogs weren’t people-friendly but were wild and ran in packs, so they didn’t keep them for pets. But nowadays, dogs are domesticated, and we love them. There are other verses where God says which animals we can eat and which ones aren’t good for us. We also read that animals pulled plows for farmers and chariots for people to ride in. Animals are God’s gift to us. He’s blessed you with Chief, and Tiger, too, and it’s your job to take good care of them. It’s good practice for taking care of your family someday. Our pets can teach us a lot about how real love acts.”
Mason nodded, then looked down at Chief, who was looking up at him in concern. He stroked his big head. Tiger had curled up on the couch, utterly disinterested in the conversation. “Chief’s my best friend, Nannygranne. So will he be in Heaven, too?”
Nannygranne smiled and ruffled Mason’s hair. “Mason, you are Chief’s best friend. We need to see how God cares about the animals. How about we take a walk? Then when we get back, it’ll be lunchtime, and we can talk some more.”
Mason grinned. “OK. That’ll be fun. Can we take Chief to the park?”
“I’d like that,” Nannygranne responded. Calling to the sleeping cat, Nannygranne said, “Tiger. Would you want to go to the park?” Tiger opened one eye in disgust at being disturbed.” Laughing, Nannygranne said, “I don’t think Tiger’s going to need a leash.”
Mason lead Chief out the gate with Nannygranne trailing. After walking half a block, Tiger dashed past. Humans mustn’t go about without a security detail.
1 Regarding unclean animals: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unclean_animal