He remembered dying and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years.
He wondered where the road was leading them.
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road.
It looked like fine marble.
At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.
He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’
‘This is Heaven, sir,’ the man answered.
‘Wow! Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.
‘Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.’
The man gestured, and the gate began to open. ‘Can my friend,’ gesturing toward his dog, ‘come in, too?’ the traveller asked.
‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.
After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.
There was no fence.
As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
‘Excuse me!’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’
‘Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.’
‘How about my friend here?’ the traveller gestured to the dog.
‘There should be a bowl by the pump,’ said the man.
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. And as he and his dog drank, before them was a beautiful sight. There were animals and birds of every kind and they peacefully co-existed.
When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.
‘What do you call this place?’ the traveller asked.
‘This is Heaven,’ he answered.
‘Well, that’s confusing,’ the traveller said.
‘The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.’
‘Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s hell.’
‘Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?’
‘No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.’