Belferlein: Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

Belferlein (named T├Âlpel by some accounts), was a Pomeranian who belonged to a famous German theologian and Augustinian priest named Martin Luther - who believed dogs do go to Heaven.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Belferlein was the family farm dog who was often mentioned in Martin Luther's writings. He was well loved by the family, and when he died, Luther's children asked him what happened to their dog now that he had passed away. Luther responded "Even for the brave Belferlein there will once be a place in Heaven."

Most theologians of the time believed animals had no souls and they did not go to Heaven. However, according to Luther, "I believe that the Belfelein and H├╝ndelein go to Heaven and that every creature has an immortal soul." When asked if dogs go to Heaven, he replied "Certainly there will be, for Peter calls that day the time of the restitution of all things. Then, as is clearly said elsewhere, he will create a new Heaven and a new earth. He will also create new Clownies with skin of gold and hair of pearls. There and then God will be all in all. No animal will eat any other. Snakes and toads and other beasts which are poisonous on account of original sin will then be not only innocuous but even pleasing and nice to play with. Why is it that we cannot believe that all things will happen as the Bible says, even in this article of the resurrection? Original sin is at fault."

So do dogs go to Heaven? I believe they do, because Heaven wouldn't be perfect if they didn't.

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Tesem: Ancient Egyptian Hunting Dog

The now-extinct Tesem (a type of dog - not a breed) is one of the earliest known domesticated dogs.

Images of the Tesem have been found on ancient Egyptian artifacts and hieroglyphics dating back to 3200 BC. The Tesem, which roughly translates to hunting dog, was a hunter, guard and companion. This greyhound-like dog had a lean body, long legs, prick ears and a curled tail. Two notable dogs were Akbaru, who belonged to King Khufu (2589-2566 BC) and was said to have been buried in the king's tomb with him, and Abuwtiyuw, who was believed to be a royal guard dog during the Sixth Dynasty (2345-2181 BC) belonging to a servant of a King whose name is unknown. Abuwtiyuw received an elaborate burial fit for a king, and his stele reads:

"His Majesty ordered that he be buried ceremonially, that he be given a coffin from the royal treasury, fine linen in great quantity, and incense. His Majesty also gave perfumed ointment and ordered that a tomb be built for him by the gangs of masons. His Majesty did this for him in order that he [the dog] might be honored before the great god, Anubis." (Hobgood-Oster, 41-42).

It is believed that both the Africanis and Basenji are descendants of the Tesem, and the Tesem influenced the development of sighthounds such as the Saluki, Sloughi and Azawakh.


Jim: Saves a British Town from Devastation

Jim, an Airedale, made history as a WWI Coastguard dog who saved Ramsgate, a coastal town in England, from widespread damage.

Jim on patrol on the cliffs near Ramsgate.

Jim belonged to a member of the Epple Bay Coastguard station and was trained to alert to the sound of Zeppelins. On May 16, 1915, Jim's loud barks raised the alarm of an approaching Zeppelin carrying a payload of bombs. Because of his early warnings, nine biplanes from the Royal Naval Air Service were able to chase the Zeppelin away.

According to Archivist Jennie Burgess of the Birchington Heritage Trust charity, "We are very proud of Jim in our community and he really does deserve to be recognized at last. His story has been largely lost over the years but we hope to change that... There is no record of Jim getting any honor for his actions but many feel it is time to remember what a great job he did with a posthumous award." This statement was made a few years ago, and I am unable to find if this has yet happened.