Does The Buddha Have A Dog’s Nature?

Golly, I sure hope so.

Four years ago, we had to euthanize (put down, put to sleep, send Over the Rainbow Bridge, kill) our two dogs. Our Old Boy (our son’s inseparable companion) was getting arthritic, had stopped eating and lost bowel control. (he “leaked”), and our Little Girl, the neurotic cocker spaniel, the life and light of our last previous years was declining fast.

She had contracted something the vet said was an auto-immune disease particular to Spaniels, which caused hemorrhaging into her gastro-intestinal tract. She was slowly bleeding to death. Coupled with her not drinking water, meant she was about to go in only a few days, and heroic measures would have been of problematical success. Not to mention, she would have been distraught being in a pet hospital 50 miles away from home without Mommy.

We took them down at the same time, and it seemed to comfort both of them, being together.

It happened on the Tuesday after Easter, and I made them nice beds in the pet cemetery on our place. I put the Little Girl (she was seven years old, but we always thought of her as a puppy) next to one who died 15 years before. The Old Boy I laid on the outside.

I buried them with food pans, collars, leashes, favorite blankies, and some chews. Very Pagan of me, yes? I placed rocks on top to prevent coyotes disturbing the place, and outlined them with garden timbers. Also put in some cheapie solar-powered nightlights. She was always afraid of venturing outside after dark.

Why was she so special? Well, one night in the fall of 2010, my wife and I were sitting on the porch, unusually late for us, when I saw a pale blob at the edge of the lighted area. It took just a moment to realize it was a dog, so I called to it. This puppy came running to us, just under a year old, it seemed, who some &%$ &**#$@ had dropped off at the dead end near our place. We took her to the vet a week later (delaying the inevitable), and found who were the &%**$ #@*&%% who didn’t want her. (Thanks to the microchip they forgot was imbedded in her back – or maybe they had hoped a coyote would get to her first.)

We did want her.

It was a happy time.

Does the Buddha have a dog nature? Anyone who has discovered Zen koans knows where that came from. (Also related, “I give a name to my dog and call it Nietzsche.)

Dogs have been with humans for an awfully long time. They are so attached to humans, and we to them, we have become symbionts. They can read us better than we can read each other, oftentimes. We love them, exploit them, and cannot get along without them. (From Hombre, “I wonder if she’d eat dog now?”)

Contrary to those dogmatically inclined individuals who seem to take great delight in asserting the moral supremacy of humans and the insignificance of the rest of creation, Franciscans have the right (IMHO) idea regarding “lesser creatures”. If Christ redeemed all creation, it surely includes dogs.

You say, the Beatific Vision renders attachment to Earthly Things irrelevant? OK. But how do you know dogs are not part of the Beatific Vision? Eh?

Humans get to go to Heaven, it says here, because of the Mercy of God, because of the Passion, and from Grace. Because we freely chose to Fall. Creation did not so choose. Creation Fell because of us—humans. Perhaps animals are redeemed due to Justice, not Mercy? Because what happened to them wasn’t their fault, but ours? And if our Fall hurt them, what would be our Redemption but theirs also?

This is probably not theologically sound. But it seems to fit the way I understand how God works. If I am dead wrong, I am in very good company. (I know a Franciscan priest who performed a Christian burial for the two dogs some cloistered Sisters had as their special guests.)

So, why do I hope the Buddha has a dog nature? Because it is the best nature I know — at least on Earth.

After all…