The Old Man and His Dog
An old man and his dog were walking along a country road, enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to the man that he had died. He remembered dying, and realized, too, that the dog who walked beside him had been dead for many years. He wondered where the road might lead them.
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It appeared to be made of fine marble stone. At the top of the long hill, the marble wall was broken by a tall, white arch that gleamed in the sunlight. As the old man and his dog stood before the arch, he noticed pathway that looked like pure gold beneath the magnificent gateway. “At last,” he thought, “I have reached heaven!”
He moved towards the gate and was taken aback by a man sitting at a beautifully carved desk.
“Excuse me,” he called out to the man who sat at the desk. “Can you tell me if this is heaven?”
“Why, yes it is, sir!” the gatekeeper called back.
“Would you happen to have some water?” The old man asked.
“We don’t accept pets, but of course you can come in, sir. I’ll have some ice water sent up for your dog.” The gatekeeper gestured to his rear, and the huge gate began to open.
The old man thought about it, then turned back toward the road, and continued in the direction he had been going. After a long walk, he reached the top of another long hill, to the start of a dirt road which led through a farm gate. There was no fence, and it looked as if the gate had never been closed, as grass had grown up around it.
As he approached the gate, he saw a man sitting in the shade of a tree reading a book.
“Excuse me!” he called to the reader. “Do you have any water for my dog?”
“Of course, there’s a well over there,” the man said, pointing to a place that couldn’t be seen from outside the gate. “Come on in and make yourself at home.”
“How about my friend here?” the traveler gestured to the dog.
“He’s welcome too, and there’s a bowl by the well,” he said.
The old man and his dog walked through the gate and, sure enough, there was an old-fashioned well and a bowl next to it on the ground. The man filled the bowl for his dog, and then took a long drink himself. When both were satisfied, he and his dog walked back toward the man, who was sitting under the tree waiting for them.
“What do you call this place?” the traveler asked.
“This is heaven,” was the answer.
“Well, that’s confusing,” the traveler said. “It certainly doesn’t look like heaven, and there’s another man down the road who said that place was heaven.”
“Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates?”
“Yes, it was beautiful.”
“Nope. That’s hell.”
“Doesn’t it offend you for them to use the name of heaven like that?”
“No. I can see how you might think so, but it actually saves us a lot of time. They screen out the people who are willing to leave their best friends behind.”