There Is A Heaven & I’ll Be Going There One Day

I’m not religious and I don’t go to church, but I pray daily.  I know there is a heaven and there is a hell.

I know when the time comes, I’ll be going to heaven.  However, there are people out there that think they’re “right” and they know God and that I’m already condemned to hell.

This morning before work, I walked off 400 calories on the treadmill.   Those first 30-45 minutes of the day have, for the past 11.5 years, been dedicated to lying on the floor caressing Miss ABBA, feeding her, taking her on a long walk allowing her to sniff everything in sight, and letting her look for people to shower her with more attention.

Today marked the third day of not having Miss ABBA and the fourth day of not getting to walk her since she wasn’t able to walk Friday morning.

Wonderful friends have sent me incredible literary passages about the loss that I’m feeling now and many pet owners who have already gone through what we’re going through now keep mentioning “Rainbow Bridge”.  The website,, is great.

As I was reading about the stages of grief, I took a moment to access where I stand.  The five stages are:  shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

I quickly eliminated “shock and denial”.

I’ve accepted that Miss ABBA is gone.  It’s strange walking around the house and not seeing her.  I dread going home today after work, before Ray gets home, and not having Miss ABBA there and hearing her tail “thumping” on the floor to let me know where she is before I walk through the house to see where she was sleeping.  Since she passed on, I haven’t been alone in the house and I’m really not looking forward to my days off Thursday and Friday and being all alone.  Another one of those “firsts”.

I also realized that I’m not “bargaining”.  I’m not asking for a deal with God to bring her back.  I have asked him to take care of her and to give me the strength to face each passing day without her and to smile when I think of her.  I know these dark days will turn golden again.  I came up with that this weekend and it brings me solace.

While reviewing veterinarian Dr. Margaret Muns’ stages of grief, I realize that I’m definitely at stage 2, “anger”, and stage four, “depression”.

I’m not mad at Miss ABBA’s doctors or at God.  I’m so appreciative to God for bringing Miss ABBA and I together almost 12 years ago, for bringing Ray and Gretel into our lives almost three years ago, for giving us ten amazing months together after she was diagnosed with a terminal, aggressive cancer, and for her only suffering less than 24 hours.  With all of that, how could I be mad at God?

I’m angry at those who have condemned me to hell because of who or what I am.

As I was sitting on the floor at the vet’s office Friday morning with Miss ABBA and her blanket draped across my outstretched legs holding onto her for dear life to make the transition easier for her as she left this life and moved onto the afterlife, I thought of those haters.

I sat there crying, kissing her sweet little head, and holding her lifeless body.  I began to think, how could people believe that there isn’t another place we go to after we die?  How could someone think that I’m going to hell because of who I love and not be there with Miss ABBA again when my time comes.  For that, I’m angered.

Another part of the “anger” stage is feelings of guilt or fear.

I know Miss ABBA had a spectacular life and I loved sharing every moment of it with her.  I remember all the vacations we took together:  to Chicago to see Panda, to Betty’s in Ohio to go swimming, to Tennessee and Kentucky to see Tammy, to Spirit Lake, Iowa, to go to Ray’s parent’s house on the Lake for swimming and boating, or the International Tour in 2007, when drove from Moline to Chicago to Ohio to Orillia, Ontario, Canada, just to see the other red-head, Reba, with Christopher, Panda, and Betty.

While I have countless wonderful memories, I do have feelings of guilt.  While she was a perfect angel 95% of the time, Miss ABBA could be a hellion.  She would throw herself down on the ground and have a little tantrum like kids.  I always carried magazines or a book with me on walks for this reason.  However, if it was time for work or I was pressed for time, I’d have to make her get up or wrestle her off the ground and scold her.

Moments later, guilt would set in looking into those beautiful brown, loving eyes and I’d apologize.  Whenever I’d yell at her for doing bad thing, it was the same.  I’d end up apologizing profusely offering hugs, kisses, and treats.

It goes without saying that I’m depressed and feel empty without her.  I think of her constantly and while I know these feelings of despair will ease and I will move on one day, that day is not today and it won’t tomorrow or the next day or the next day.  The final stage, “acceptance” is not even a possibility anytime soon.

Miss ABBA, we will be together again one day and pick up where we left off.

Here’s a picture of Miss ABBA taking her chauffeured ride toward “Rainbow Bridge”.  She was always up to R-I-D-E.


42 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dixie on February 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Anthony please do not worry about what people say, they are stupid uncaring people..You are a very caring and loving person, You have so many things to go threw right now..And that people think is not one of them..My heart goes out to you..I know the feeling of not wanting to go home and see the baby girl sitting there waiting for you.!!It is horrible the pain comes back full force every time you come home..But it does get easier believe me.I still have tears come to my eyes when I think of my Bridgette..But I now have a sweet Bobbette and she is the love of our family!I I hope peace for you soon it is hell going threw this.I read some where you lost your Mom and Dad and G-ma ..That this is harder for you, yes she was like your daughter and you were with her every day and raised her.Taught her things and she was a smart girl..Peace be with you soon..


  2. Posted by karen mckee johnston on February 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Anthony please know in your heart you will be with ABBA again i truly believe this it will get easier each person deals with grief in their own way never let anyone tell you how you should be feeling in time in your unique way you will feel better i won’t say get over it because it never totally goes away but the pain will lessen know that my thoughts are with you & i pray for you to find some peace


  3. Posted by Kathy Markham McCoy on February 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Reading this post, I smiled at how much you sounded like a daddy scolding his daughter as she had a tantrum. Yep, they sure know how to play us with those puppy dog eyes & that “look”. Just like a child. We correct them & get frustrated at times, then feel guilty & turn back into a big marshmallow when they act all contrite. Miss ABBA knew you loved her without question, even when being corrected she knew she made the right choice in you as her daddy.

    Anthony, the God I serve is a God of love. My Bible says that whoever accepts Jesus as the son of God & Savior will have eternal life in Paradise. I fully expect to run across you & Miss ABBA on the other side of those pearly gates.

    It took me quite a while to better handle the loss of my Lil’ King David…he was my boy. I remember very clearly one day I woke up from a dream I had about him, & felt a sweet peace. I knew he was in a beautiful place, enjoying his new painfree life yet holding a place in his heart & in Heaven for me to join him one day. Your sweet girl will be there to greet you when your time comes.


    • Kathy,

      I’m glad you found peace with the loss of Lil’ King David. That time will come for me with Miss ABBA. And, I serve the same God as you, and I will see you and Miss ABBA there.

      I always appreciate your comments.



  4. Posted by Becky on February 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I can’t imagine what emotions you have had this past several days. There must be some solace in knowing you will reunite with Abba one day. You are truly a great person and I enjoy knowing you through here and watching you on WQAD. Keep your chin up. I hope each day becomes easier for you. Treasure the memories.


  5. Posted by John Wright on February 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Dear Friend: You know I am sorry for the loss of Miss Abba, I to lost a dog (like my child) a few years ago. Her name was Baby Girl and just the best friend I ever had. I will not dwell on our losses old man, because they are too many to reflect upon. So I am saying this to you. ” I am an old Biker Type who believes in God our father” I too have been condemed to Hell for my past transgressions, and condemed to Hell for being a man of GRIT. Those that condem you dont know you, those that condem you must answer to God and have reasons why they judge you. How can they go to heaven for judging you? ”

    “Thou shalt not judge least thee be judged” Sayeth The Lord God!

    God see’s you Anthony for who you are, and what you do, and what you stand for. I know the pain and suffering you have felt because of other people and what they have said about you. Now think of it! Everyone has felt that way-even those that speek ill of others have felt bad at one time or another because of somebodies big mouth. Its truly sad that they are so miserabley caught up in their own religions to see Gods truth in all things. God said to ask for blessings to be bestowed upon those that come against you, and it will be like hot coals placed upon their heads. When you ask God to bless someone he does, it’s how they take the blessing that determins how they are blessed, or if they are cursed! Its up to them and their attitude.

    I am all about justice in this life, not judging you or anyone else. We have been friends a short time but it feel like forever. You are the reason I changed my attitude about life and the wrongful teachings I was told as a child. Many men and women need to check themselves first while living in their glass houses before they start throwing stones. You are a good and honest man with deep intense feelings about many subjects, this makes you open for ridicule on many different levels to those who are insanly ignorant and void of expression.

    May you have a wonderful day my friend, and go in love and piece all the days of your life. May your sorrows be few and far between, and joy abound in your heart forever. Be Blessed

    Your Friendly Biker friend
    Big John


  6. Posted by Maralee Hendricks on February 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Anthony, my condolences for you loss I too am an animal lover, and losing an animal for me is just like losing a human loved one. They love us and trust us and it is indeed unconditional love. No matter what the world thinks of us the animals in our life always love us no matter what. God Bless


  7. Posted by Julie Callaway on February 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    We love you for who you are, Anthony. Those who judge, are ignorant, and they make me very angry. This picture you posted with Miss ABBA is precious, I have one almost exactly like it the day I had to let Charlie pass on to The Rainbow Bridge. I held him in my arms on the floor of the shelter, just like a momma would. You will find yourself at times feeling ok, then feeling sad, angry, and depressed even years after.. I’ll always be here for you, and so will Rusty and Callie Rae. God Bless!


    • Posted by Judy on February 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      Anthony, I am like you..I don’t go to Church,but I do believe in God and I say my prayers..I do believe. There Is a Heaven And Hell. I truly believe we will be reunited with our parents and other loved ones..I believe we will be reunited with our loving pets…Do not be angry at the stupid people in this world.These people that condemn you for who you are, will most likely go to Hell themselves for judging you..We did not choose how we were born. I do not like people using the words gay, or lesbian. My best friends son is married to a man and My niece wants to marry her girlfriend..Why cant we Marry who we want..It should be our chose. Not other peoples.You are truly a loving person..Anthony, hold your head up high..Don,t ever let these people get you down. Smile to yourself when they make you made and upset..Don,t let them win,for in the end my Friend they will be the losers….For we will get to see heaven….and be with all our loved ones …and those condemning you will not…God bless us for not being like them…….


      • Judy,

        Thank you for your nice comments.

        Just to let you know, I don’t let haters bother me. It gives me the strength to fight their ignorance even more and try harder to educate them to open their minds. I hope your niece gets to marry her girlfriend and I wish your best friend’s son and his husband the very best.

        Take care of yourself and keep praying for world peace and love.


  8. Dixie,

    Thank you for taking the time to share in my therapy. While I wasn’t talking about a particular person, we both that those “haters” are out there.

    I’m sure you smile each time you think of Bridgette. Give Bobbettee an extra hug for us.



  9. Becky,

    I appreciate knowing you and opening myself and Miss ABBA to a you and all of my Facebook friends. You don’t have to meet people to feel a bond and connection and I’m touched by your sweet comments about Miss ABBA.

    Take care.


  10. Hello my biker friend a/k/a Big John,

    I am very touched that we’ve gotten to know each other over the past year or so. It takes all kinds to make this world go around. We all learn from each other.

    I always think about your comments on how you’ve changed your views on certain things because of me and I’ve learned to open my mind to others because of you.

    As long as someone is not threatening me with physical harm or trying to hurt Gretel, their hateful words don’t pain me, it makes me smile at their ignorance. And, then I hope they educate themselves before it’s too late.

    While I’m sad for your loss of Baby Girl, I’m glad she and Miss ABBA are playing together now.

    Take care, my friend,


  11. Maralee,

    Our pet babies are so intelligent and so full of love, if us humans had just a fraction of that unconditional love, the world would be a much better place.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my therapy sessions 🙂 and commenting.



  12. Julie,

    There will always be ignorant people and we can only hope they really get to meet some of the people they hate and maybe change their backward thinking.

    That ride was special to me because I knew Miss ABBA was going to a better place and all she knew is that she was going on a R-I-D-E, which she loved!

    I’m so blessed to have you in my life and not just because of the added bonus of Rusty and Callie Rae. 🙂



  13. Posted by Joan Kasten on February 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    I’m off on Friday ( my flex day off), if you want to meet for breakfast or lunch so you won’t be alone all day, I’m available…you know how to get hold of me:)


  14. Anthony,
    A wonderful and helpful book about the grieving process when a pet dies, is “The Loss of a Pet”, by Wallace Sife. It helped me tremendously when I lost my girl Pretzel suddenly, and when I lost Badger two years ago.


    • Amy,

      I will look into that book.

      I have one that was given to me years ago called “Golden Days: Memories of a Golden Retriever”. It’s been on my bookshelf for many years and I took it down this weekend and Ray has already read it and says it was adorable…. and that all golden retrievers must be goofy because so much of that book was Miss ABBA.

      I hope you think of Pretzel and Badger daily and smile.

      Take care,


  15. Anthony, my wife and I ran across something in the past in regards to the short life of our animal friends. A small boy, at the loss of his dog, said God sends us to learn how to love, but dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay very long.
    The disrespect and dislike for anyone who does not meet someone else’s “standard” is a horrible thing and must be ignored and the source considered. I am not a religous person, but I once came across a saying in regards to gay/lesbian and the church, paraphrased, that if God hates gays/lesbians or any other person, then that means God made a mistake and supposedly that can’t happen.
    We have had many of our animal friends cross the Rainbow Bridge, and we both know we will be mobbed, licked, pawed by the multitudes upon our arrival.
    We also learned from Best Friends Animal Society about the windchimes that are placed in Angel Canyon, where the animlas, great and small, furred and feathered, and yes even scaled, are laid to rest upon their passing and how everytime another is added a breeze comes down the canyon and the windchimes sing.
    There is always guilt with our friends, no matter what you do or have done. Don’t let guilt, or anger, or depression get to you, four legs, and brown eyes forgave you many years ago for being a human.
    Peace and Beauty.


    • Richard,

      Someone posted that comment on my Facebook page and it was simply amazing and so very true. A dog’s love is unconditional from the time they’re with you and Miss ABBA was that way from the first day to the last day.

      Many people will go through life with so many chips on their shoulders and never experience a truly happy life. I’m a good person and I don’t buy into some insecure person’s view on life as a foundation of me living my life.

      I appreciate you ready my therapeutic words and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Take care,



    • Richard,

      I love wind chimes and I may do that!



  16. Posted by Deinda on February 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Hello, Anthony. There was so much that I wanted to say, but it looks like lots of others said it before me! You are a great person with a great heart. I am sorry you have to go through the pain you are feeling. Don’t feel any guilt over scolding her for her tantrums, even though that’s a very natural feeling when going through this grief and loss. Neither one of you did anything wrong, as you know in your heart. Just like a child, if you would have let her have her way all the time, she would never have learned anything! Sometimes in life,even though we’re grown human beings, God has to put the old foot down on us too. Regarding your haters, they’re not worth wasting a second thought over. Let them be ignorant. Hope your day was great, and tomorrow will be even better.


    • Deinda,

      You have always been a very special friend and one day, we will meet.

      I always appreciate hearing from you. We’ve both overcome great obstacles in life and look at us. We’re great people. Yes, I’m patting myself on the back because I know I am. As for the haters, they don’t bother me. They give me the strength to fight harder to educate them and they give me something to write about in my blogs. LOL

      All of the comments, even if they say the same thing, mean a lot to me at this time and I appreciate it.

      Take care,


  17. Anthony,

    I learned a long time ago to not care about what other people think. That isn’t what matters in life. People will always judge you and often times their opinions are based on nothing more than their own insecurities, prejudices, hate and ignorance. These judgmental people resent anyone who doesn’t fit the “mold” they try to put them into. Just be true to yourself and realize that those people are missing out on knowing the wonderful person that you are. I feel sorry for such people, because they are incapable of knowing the joy and happiness that comes from acceptance of others and from having a circle of unique and diverse friends who bless our lives in such special ways.

    Please don’t allow guilt to overwhelm you. We parents do the same thing – correcting and chastising our children because we love them, and feeling guilty at the same time for scolding them. We are humans Anthony and we make mistakes – we have to learn from those mistakes and move on.

    I have never experienced the loss of a special pet so I can’t really know what you are experiencing with your recent loss of Miss Abba, but two years ago I lost my beloved brother to a form of bone cancer. Robbie was my role model and the best brother one could ever have. He had been told if he was lucky he would live only two years – but he fought the cancer, beat the odds, and lived for six. The day he passed away, we were able to hold his hand and be with him as he passed on from this life here on earth to his heavenly home. I still miss him terribly and what helps me get through my sorrow is to hold on the the beautiful memories we built together while he was here on earth. I was so thankful to be with him during this transition from life to death to heaven. I am thankful you were able to be with Miss Abba as well. Hold on to those precious memories and find comfort in them.

    I wonder sometimes if our pets are angels in disguise. They love us unconditionally, make us laugh and bring us so much joy. They know our schedules, wait for us eagerly at the door when we return home and are always ready to show their affection and love us.

    Healing from a loss such as yours takes time, but it will come. Be strong and remember that you have hundreds of people who obviously care for you and are praying for you. I am one of those people.

    God Bless You,



    • Michelle,

      My friend, I hope life is treating you well.

      You are so right about people’s insecurities driving their negative attitude toward others. I honestly don’t sit around pouting about someone not liking me for this reason or that reason. It just gives me the strength to work harder to educate them and it give me fodder for blogging. 🙂

      I’m very sorry to hear about Robbie. He sounds like a very special brother and I’m happy for all of the time that you had together and for the extra time after his diagnosis. Like Miss ABBA, he wasn’t ready to go and live three times longer than expected. My golden girl did the same thing!

      All of our wonderful memories of Robbie and Miss ABBA will make each day on Earth better for us and make it a better place.

      Peace, my friend.



  18. Anthony, a beautiful post..I feel your loss as deeply as if it were one of my own furbabies has passed to the ‘bridge’. We lost 4 dogs to old age diseases in a 4 year period..each one was so hard, but their time here on earth was done and they were needed at the R.B. I also know that we will see our beloved babies again one day.

    As far as the haters go, forget them. I believe in the same God as you, I pray daily but I do not go for organized religion..One does not need to go to a ‘building’ to have a personal relationship with God. My belief is that God made each of us just the way we are, there are no mistakes. The haters can just make their own lives miserable as far as I am concerned..

    We love you all and appreciate your friendship..if we were closer we would come get you on Thursday or Friday and keep you busy..hang in there, it gets better day by day.

    Barb & Carl


    • Barb & Carl,

      Thank you for reading my therapeutic thoughts and responding.

      I feel for you having to go through the loss of your furbabies four times in four years. I commend you for having the strength to give them a great home for still sharing your love with pets. Maybe I will be that strong again.

      As for the haters, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. It just makes me angry and gives me something to fight harder for. 🙂

      Take care!



  19. Posted by Jill Mattan on February 6, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Reading all these lovely posts have put a tear in my eye. I wish I would have known Miss ABBA before she had to go accross the ‘Rainbow Bridge. She sounds so special, loving and happy. Please don’t feel guilty for the ‘scolding’ when she was younger, and ‘older’ I imagine. She was only testing you like a small child would. She knew you loved her, for you are the most kindest man I know. Forget about all those haters. They will meet their maker one day and then will have to attone for what they have done to you and to others. Miss Abba lived quite a long time for a Golden and you have so many happy memories of her, but I know it doesn’t take away any of the pain of loss. Cry if you will, while she is up there watching you like a good Golden and thinking how much she loves you too. I have not lost a pet near and dear to my heart, but I can understand your loss and pain. I have never met you, but I do know what it feels like to lose someone you love very much. I can understand the pain and loss and dispair involved…. So Anthony, Cry if you will, because there will come a time when all you will do is smile and say “Yeah, that was my Miss ABBA at her best..You are truly Blessed to have the wonderful family you have, You are Blessed in many ways, but still cry if you will..God understands the Grief and you will smile one day. Love you, God is watching over Miss Abba until it is time for you to see her again.God Bless you Anthony!


    • Jill,

      Thank you very much for the kind words and for checking out my blogs about Miss ABBA.

      As I’ve said lately, the tears of a year ago have been replaced with smiles about that goofy golden.

      I’ll see her again one day, but I know she’s having a blast until then.

      Take care, my friend,



  20. Posted by Mary E Vinyard on February 6, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Abba will be with you forever. My Sebastian is still underfoot when I’m cooking and running to the door when the doorbell rings, He’s at the foot of my bed when I wake up and he’s jumping to greet me when I come home. We trade holding them temporarily in our arms for holding them forever in our hearts.


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