“In material consciousness we are trying to love that which is not at all lovable. We give our love to dogs and cats, running the risk that at the time of death we may think of them and consequently take birth in a family of cats or dogs. Thus love that does not have Krishna as its object leads downward. It is not that Krishna, or God, is something obscure or something that only a few chosen people can attain. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu informs us that in every country and in every scripture there is some hint of love of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Introduction)
Friend1: I know that one of the favorite lines from His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada relates to dogs and God.
Friend2: It’s a play on letters. Each word is the reverse of the other.
Friend1: The message is that right now we are accustomed to worshiping dog instead of God.
Friend2: I mean you can’t really deny that. Sleeping in the same bed, bending over to clean up, spending so much and giving attention – all out of love. It is worship for sure, though maybe not in the typical way the term is understood.
Friend1: And there is no benefit from that worship.
Friend2: How can there be? Perhaps you have a way to pass the time. It is not like the dog is going to lead future generations. It is not like the dog can pass on what you have taught them. At least with children there is succession, there is the idea of keeping the line moving.
Friend1: Yet even over-attachment to children is not recommended.
Friend2: No, because the association will eventually terminate. That is a harsh reality of life. The more one is attached to aspects of this temporary world, the more they will have to remain in it.
Friend1: And the means of continuing that stay is rebirth.
Friend2: Right. Don’t let time fool you. Just because there is death it doesn’t mean that there won’t be birth again.
Friend1: Isn’t there something about being attached to a dog means you’ll be born as a dog in the next life?
Friend2: It’s a distinct possibility. There is the story in the Shrimad Bhagavatam about King Bharata. He became so attached to a deer that he was born as a deer in the next life.
Friend1: Oh, that’s right. Does this mean that people shouldn’t keep dogs?
Friend2: I didn’t say that. Are you thinking of getting one?
Friend1: For protection. You see these mass shootings on the news, so you start to worry. I’d rather not keep a gun in the house, at least for now.
Friend2: A dog can help, for sure. They start barking as soon as anyone comes near the home. They might bark even if the person is known to them.
Friend1: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. So there is no harm in that?
Friend2: Are you going to be worshiping the dog?
Friend1: Haha, I see what you are saying.
Friend2: Chew on this. There might be occasions where it is okay to worship the dog.
Friend1: Huh? How?
Friend2: It’s when you are on a higher level of consciousness. Imagine you reach a point where the dog is staying somewhere in the home, either outside guarding or inside the garage because of the cold. It does its job perfectly. It remains loyal.
Friend2: Meanwhile, you feel safe in your home. You are practicing devotional service. You are worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, with daily offerings at the altar. You are reading books like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam with your family.
Friend1: That sounds like a nice life.
Friend2: Yes, and the dog is an integral part of it. In that mindset you offer respect to the dog for helping to complete the picture. You respect that it is a spirit soul, just like you and me, and that it has Supersoul inside.
Friend1: Which is God’s expansion.
Friend2: You are not taking the dog as God, but you are seeing it as part and parcel.
Friend1: Oh, that is interesting. Never considered that.
Friend2: It’s a way to understand how consciousness should progress. You end up appreciating so many other things in life. That is why bhakti-yoga is all-encompassing. You are not simply keeping God for yourself, excluding everyone else. The worldview actually expands instead of contracts.
Spiritual vision to all souls landing,
Worldview only expanding.
When path of bhakti-yoga taking,
Even respect of housedog making.
Since devotional life to protect,
Peace and safety can expect.
Consciousness on Krishna remaining so,
So again not rebirth to go.