I recently asked my students to respond to Hale's portrayal of "the Judeo-Christian universe" and its supposed assumption of "human exceptionalism." Many defended the idea that human beings, at least as understood within the main religious traditions, are indeed different from all other animals because they can use their reason and freedom to go against "natural" impulses and instincts that serve the self (and often do harm to others). While acknowledging the biological-evolutionary connection that human beings have to all other life forms on the planet, other students argued that human beings are uniquely qualified and positioned to act differently from other animals. This is both a challenge and a threat, since human actions can both help and harm other creatures and creation itself.
But where did he go? Did he have a "spirit" or a "soul," like the Scriptures say human beings do? Skipper certainly had "life" and "breath" in him, and we've been around enough other pets to know that he had had a distinct "personality."
Do all dogs go to heaven? Just the good ones, the loved ones? Do not the visions of Second- and Third Isaiah, and John, indicate that non-human animals, too, will be brought through death into God's new creation. I find it difficult to believe that God would create all these varied creatures, just to have them die rather senselessly, if they too were not an aspect of God's eternal plan. Why couldn't the Creator of all these animals not make a provision for them in that future world? The actions and words of St. Francis to bless animals would also suggest this possibility.