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. davikins

    depends on the size of the pet

    December 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
  2. Nena

    What kind of a stupid question is that? They will go where clearly on consciousness goes upon exiting this plain. The real question is where will all the stupid, mean, selfish and self absorbed humans go? That's is what I want to know, because wherever they are going I don't want to be. If there is a special place in this universe and if there is a god you can rest assured that all pets will go to the very best place there is. The rest of us should start cleaning up their act.

    December 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
  3. David

    Far more interesting than any religious topic are the VERY predictable posts by these folks pretending to be atheist. They are drawn to any religous theme as the moth is to the flame. Guys, your cold spirit needs the warmth of God. The only thing warm about you is your anger. So called atheists – You don't exist. I very seriously doubt your existence! If there were such a thing as a true atheist, you would never see them here, they wouldn't be interested at all in ANY religous topic. Your anger gives you away you pretend atheists. You can't get back at God by pretending, like a little child with lip poked out, "I don't love you. I don't believe in you." You guys with your hateful anit-Christian rants do hurt we Christians a little bit though – we feel a bit guilty laughing at all of the sophmores out there with that weak, anti-God stuff. Come on – feel the love guys. We don't hate you!

    December 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm |
  4. Silence Dogood

    Who's up for a round of "Dead Puppies?"

    Dead puppies...dead puppies...dead puppies, aren't much fun...
    They don't come...when you call...they don't chase...squirrels at all...
    Dead puppies aren't much fun.

    Mom says puppy's days are through...she's going to throw him in the stew...
    Dead puppies aren't much funnnnnnnnnnn,.......

    December 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  5. maru


    December 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
  6. saganhill

    I cant believe anyone ask this idiotic question.

    December 13, 2010 at 9:16 pm |
  7. Aaron

    Does he discuss what happens to bad pets or ones that belong to non christians? If an atheist that dies and goes to hell has a good pet does it get to go to heaven or does it wind up wherever the owner is?

    December 13, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  8. Shelly

    The subject of the book is for Christians looking for some type of emotional comfort after seeing their beloved pet pass away. This book may actually be comforting to a child/older person that went through the tragic loss of their beloved pet. Lets face it, some people really get attached to their pet. Read the context...it clearly states "If you're Christian and interested in this kind of thinking..." This book caters to that audience.

    December 13, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  9. charles bowen

    Spell dog backwards thats the closest most of us will ever get. Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    December 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
  10. Fr. Billy Clark

    When death of a person or an animal is imminent, God lifts the spirit out. This is a place of comfort for us to know, since any images that you have seen of the body going into spasm or destruction before death is not felt by the spirit, since it is not in the body at that time; the body is only reacting on automatic. Before the body hits the ground from a tall building, before the car bursts into flames, before the animal’s throat is torn, before a murder takes place, the final impact is not felt. We never have anything to fear, not even death! God is gracious and kind to all, and though the physical body may not survive, the spirit does, whether animal or human.

    Pets are literally part of us. Just as we are a spark off of the Divine Flame, domesticated animals are smaller sparks off of our own flames. We are given the choice before coming into these bodies of how many sparks we wish to let out to become our delegates. Delegates serve a specific purpose, they are here to teach us more about love, the giving and receiving of love, balance within these bodies and most certainly how to play! Delegates take these roles very seriously. Delegates operate within our own free will, they are a part of us and are here to help us. They are spirit off our spirit, just as our spirit is off of God’s. What about the non-domesticated animals or wild animals? These all belong to God. These are what we can think of as Father’s delegates. These are the place of love and joy for Father to feel and experience. It is easy to see how people of all cultures have had respect for animals in some regard and how those that we think of as being more spiritual have picked up on the respectful treatment of animals. When we take care of the wild animals, when we show love and respect for them, we demonstrate love and respect for the One who created us all.

    December 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
  11. Dee

    You know as I read all these responses, I have a great sadness. And I have to wonder just what God must think of us and why he loves us so much because we sure don't deserve it. And before any sny remark is made about what I have said. Yes i believe in God and the after life. No I have no proof that He is, but I choose to believe He is, and believe animals will be there too. But if there is no God or a after life or something more than this, HELP US All because we are pitiful creatures indeed. And the remarks on here just show how much humans have deteriorated in mind and spirit.

    December 13, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
  12. james

    It would be a much sadder planet without dogs, cats, horses and other pets.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  13. asdfghjkl

    So, if I read this right, what the author is saying is that you should just tell people what they want to hear, i.e. "Yes, you will see Snookie wagging her tail waiting for you up in heaven."

    December 13, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  14. Obie1

    The Lord said I made them dull that way they do not know that they exist in the same sense we do they have no spirit if a person believes an animal is on the same level as him he or she needs some help Christ did not die for animals if an animal is on the same level as a human it is not a scavenger but a thief he does not feed he murders Christ said are you not worth more than a whole flock of birds get real with this thinking don't be upset when a human values an animals life more than yours and stamps your life out just say the true face of God survived although i see nowhere in the bible where God states he created animals in His image and there are psychological terms for people who put human traits on animals look it up

    December 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  15. Sean

    So first you have to believe in an afterlife, but if you do, why in heaven or Earth would you think that human beings would be the only living things in an afterlife. Pretty narcissistic really. I guess that idea comes from Genesis and the idea that God created everything for the benefit of man on Earth, but that is a myth people. If Earth were really created for people then why did the dinosaurs have their way with it for hundreds of millions of years without us? Do you really think we’ll be around for that long?

    December 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
  16. Rich

    We are a very, very stupid species.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • superbad79

      speak for yourself

      December 14, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  17. JPIcker

    It's so frickin' simple. All these centuries of old hoopla surrounding "The big Mystery" and the religions created around it so as to somehow come to terms with our mortality.
    The big question comes down to this:
    When we die .. do we get sucked into a big black hole of nothingness or ... do we go through a portal?

    If there is indeed something else beyond, we'll know about it.
    If there isn't we won't know anyway.
    Mystery solved. Find something else to obsess about.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  18. Rich

    Ridiculous. "Nature is resurrected"??? Interesting !!! What the heck does that mean??? Talk about twisting scripture just to let people hear what they want to hear. I think that's stupid. If you can't handle the truth don't get a dog.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  19. tonya

    Wow, this is ridiculous. I guess if you write a book about it, it MUST be true. That "something" you see in a pet's eyes is called a REFLECTION, it does not indicate a soul. By these standards I can write a book saying my plants are going to heaven when they die. They have such SPARK and vitality and they're always there for me when I need them. They eat and drink and are great companions. Boy I sure hope I see them again in the afterlife. Oh wait, there isn't an afterlife. Now I'm sad I'll never see my plants again.

    December 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  20. Tom

    Um, really? Fido "goes" wherever you put his dead body, just like people do. Why are we still acting like it's the dark ages?

    December 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
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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.