Where does Fido go when he dies?
December 13th, 2010
04:29 PM ET

Where does Fido go when he dies?

By Padmananda Rama, CNN

"What happens to animals when they die?" author Ptolemy Tompkins wonders in his new book.

"I looked into that dog's eyes and knew there was something more," says Tompkins, a writer for the Christian magazine Guideposts.

At the age of 12, Tompkins named that dog - a hungry mutt with a “copper-colored spot on her shoulder” - Penny. Decades later, in his latest book, "The Divine Life of Animals," he briefly describes how he adopted Penny during a family vacation to Mexico.

“Penny and I had connected. I had looked into her face and seen something there,” he writes. Later, he concludes, “Penny, then, must have had a soul.”

This intuition leads the author on a far-reaching journey, exploring various faiths and philosophies, and searching for answers to explain the possibilities of our pets’ afterlife.

During his time writing for Guideposts, Tompkins told CNN, he received numerous letters from animal lovers who had asked their parish ministers similar questions after the death of a pet and received less-than-satisfying responses.

“They’re so heartbroken. They go to find out what happened to their poodle … and they say, ‘Am I going to see my dog again in heaven?’ and the pastor sort of scratches his head for a second and says, ‘No, you’re not. There are only people in heaven.’ ”

Tompkins' book is written for animal lovers who are dissatisfied by this response - and who are willing to take a leap of faith along with Tompkins as he searches for clues to animals’ divinity, piecing together spiritual arguments from primitive cultures as well as Christianity.

“If you look a little deeper in the Bible, you can find evidence that writers of the Bible actually did have a deeper respect for the spirituality of animal creation than appears to be on the surface,” Tompkins says.

“There is a spiritual reality to animals,” the author explains. In researching his book, which he described as “one man’s quest to discover whether the souls of animals live on,” Tompkins looks to Christian theories of the concept of the Resurrection.

“Nature is resurrected too ... so if you’re a Christian and you’re interested in this kind of thinking, there's plenty of argument that suggests that all of nature is included in the idea of redemption, which is central to Christianity.”

This holiday season, as you’re checking off your gift list, Tompkins’ book may be a good option for pet lovers in your life who are ready to explore whether their favorite fluffy companion may also have a spiritual side.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief

soundoff (868 Responses)
  1. Mandy

    All Dogs Go to Heaven! This reminded me of that film – one of my favorites as a child 🙂

    December 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  2. Gary

    Poodles are gay and are not allowed in doggie heaven

    December 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  3. Bill

    What a great book and article, and perfectly timed for the holidays, when people will definitely want to be thinking about the death of their pets.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  4. Ronald O'Neal

    Things that are truly good don't cease to exist. God won't allow it. And that goes for the love and affection between a pet and its owner.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  5. What a crock

    Man I need to write a book so lemmings will run out in droves to purchase it.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  6. Sher

    Love 'LOGIC's comment as well.. well said 🙂

    December 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  7. Earthly

    I once had a conversation with a guy who was trying to convince me he could tell that his cat was jewish because of the extra roughness of its tongue...

    December 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  8. jjww

    Every knows dogs go to heaven. They even made a movie about it. Cats burn in hell though.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  9. ShadowSkill11

    Where do pets go when they die? They turn into fertilizer and are just plain dead and gone when their bodies and brains rot. Just like with people.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  10. DYBO

    Upon death you become what you were before conception.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  11. Skeletor Farnsworth

    I would just like to point out that it is well into the 21st century and there are people who are still fixated on absurd questions such as, What happens to dogs after they die? If at any point in the day you start losing faith in humanity, just remember that there are intelligent people out there who think this absurd question can't be answered any other way than, They decompose like everything else after death.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  12. Andy Hunt

    They become mulch and feed other life, just like the rest of us. Stop trying to make life more than it is; it's already pretty damn impressive by itself.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  13. Michael Morrell

    The Bible teaches that animals and humans both experience exactly the same fate – returning to dust. Adam sinned so all life returns to dust at death. Animals and People are both called souls in the Bible. What's the big question.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  14. Marcia

    If energy can not be destroyed and humans and animals alike are energy...then animals go on like the rest of us.
    Except for the lame brains that would argue the point!
    They go nowhere, so they won't be on the othe rside bothering us!! !:)

    December 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
    • ryan

      the chemical energy gets converted irreversibly to thermal energy increasing the entropy of the universe

      December 13, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  15. Chaz

    C'mon people. Be nice. If one's beliefs bring them comfort in a difficult time, then that's a good thing. 'Tis far more agreeable to have hope in something, whatever that may be, than to have none at all. For some, our existence needs that extra bit of spiritual icing on top to be palatable. Even a science-minded chap like myself realizes that. Live and let live.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  16. me

    Live life as well as you can and enjoy all the planets, animals, and humans that you meet. Sorry author, but your not going to see your dog again (or its soul for that matter), that's just silly and frankly, sad as hell. Damn, religion is f'n stupid.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  17. ryan

    What if my dog is an atheist? :S

    December 13, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  18. Pet Lover

    I know what happens to bodies when people die, they decompose BUT, I want to believe that my pets will be waiting for me when I die. I know that their cat/dog heaven will be everything that they wanted in life. No one to yell at them when they chase cars or when they scratch the couch and with any luck, my bed to lay on when they nap.

    The things that I know for sure are different then what I fool myself into believing.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  19. Joelan3

    as for animals in heaven. the 4 horsemen are on horses , so that says something to animals being in heaven. The reality is nowhere in the bible is it specific if we will even know each other. It's wishful thinking to be able to believe we will all be together, but we don't have a clue. Honestly at what age will we be there, do I have to endure my aunts and uncles I didn't get along with. just us hoping for the best. I like to think whatever makes us happy will be in heaven as long as it's good clean fun. so I might have a bit of trouble in that area.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  20. tuffyturf

    I think Christian Pastors need to be more concerned about the dogs that they molested and made to have s e x with all the little children they abused- being in heaven waiting to maul the sicko priests for eternity..

    December 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.