Emerging Perspectives: Student Chapters

The Place of Pets in our Lives: Some Christian and Buddhist Perspectives

Briar Golladay

If you ask a person to tell you about their favorite pet they’ve had, no matter how long it has been since it lived, their faces will most likely light up with joy as they tell you a humorous or heartwarming story about “the best cat” or “the best dog in the world!” Love and appreciation for our pets seems to be a relatively universal trait that, for many of us, is also interconnected with our religious or moral values and feelings toward nature.

Take for example my first cat, T.T. My parents adopted T.T. in the early 1990s, several years before I was born, so by the time I was old enough to play with him, he had become quite the old man…

When T.T. finally passed away, he taught me new lessons about my family’s spirituality. Although I was only five at the time, I remember my mom placing his still body in a little shoe box and saying a prayer for him before closing the lid. Later that day, we buried him under a large, flat rock in our backyard, and placed a statue of a praying woman on top to mark his grave. About ten years later, when my family decided to do backyard renovations, we dug up his little bones and reburied them in a more natural area. I remember seeing my younger brother mark his grave with a cross made out of two twigs tied together with twine.

The funny thing about this story is that my family is not particularly religious, but T.T. brought out their spiritual side just by existing. His life and death also inspired me to ponder certain questions related to religion, spirituality, and our pets. Although many of these questions are incredibly difficult to answer, I believe exploring them from the perspectives of different religions is incredibly worthwhile…


Find the rest of this chapter in Emerging Perspectives on Religion and Environmental Values in America HERE.


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Religion and Environmental Values in America Copyright © 2019 by Briar Golladay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.