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. NL

    Maybe in doggie heaven they get to lead us around by the leash, and in horse heaven they get to ride us?

    December 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  2. Boris

    When Fido dies he goes to the only place he's welcome: the dinner table.

    December 13, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  3. Pam

    I too asked this of my husband (a Chaplain) and his answer has stayed with me... he told met that God has told us that there is nothing by happiness in heaven. So if my cats or my dog I had growing up makes me happy then yes, they will be there. So. For me. Whenever I see an animal that has been killed on the road or through torture, I pray to the God I know who loves me and I ask Him to put them in my house for me when I get to heaven. I won't need much room- they can have it all. 🙂

    December 13, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  4. Popo

    What about rats, rodents, insects and other "animals" that constantly get killed by humans? Do they go to heaven? This is ridiculous.

    December 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
  5. Sharon

    There is a difference between RESURRECTION and REDEMPTION.
    Resurrection of the body/soul/spirit will happen on THIS earth. A New perfect unblemished sinless earth is being created (Jesus said he was going to prepare a place for us) and a New perfect unblemished rebellion free heaven is being created as well. When we go to occupy these places is after the tribulation and after the millineum and after the Great White Throne Judgement. I do believe that on this new earth there will be animals. Why wouldn't there be? Maybe not our little Fido's or Yogi's but there will be animals.

    Redemption is the price that Jesus paid on the cross for the sins of man. We are redeemed when we accept who Jesus is, what He did for us on the cross and if we willfully obey and follow His teachings. This is not unusual. Mormons follow Joseph Smith, catholics follow the Pope, muslims follow Mohammad, Buddhists follow Buddha. Animals have done no sin. Humans may have conditioned animals to behave in destructive ways. But the animal does not willfully set out to do evil. He has no need for redemption. I am not even convinced that animals are aware of their creator!

    December 13, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
  6. Maizie'sMom

    Wow, so many folks with all the answers, and so much prejudice. I'm a crazy left-wing feminist who wants gays to get married, everyone who is not intentionally procreating to use condoms, and good people of all faiths to go to heaven. I don't know what heaven is. Hope to find out when I get there. Pretty sure my furry little soul mates will be waiting. You don't agree? That's nice. I don't think you are evil for your beliefs, just evil for judging mine. And why the heck are so many atheists wasting their time getting their undies in a bundle here? Just sayin'.....

    December 13, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  7. Sharon Robison

    My personal belief is "Fido" most definitely lives on ~ All my pets thru-out the years have been special & dear to my heart ~ Tessa our family pit-bull was with us for years & raised with my daughters ~ Her passing years ago left us devastated ~ about 10 years after her passing I believe God blessed me with a spiritual visit from Tessa ~ It was most definitely NOT a dream ~Tessa & I were in a grassy meadow ~ We spoke to one another thru our eyes ~ We played for a long time ~ She communicated to me it was time for her to go ~ She was fine & we would see her again ~ She told me thru her eyes she would never again come to me until it was my time ~ Only then would she be back & be there to cross over with me ~ Skeptic's can believe otherwise BUT I lived it ~ I know the difference between a dream & otherwise ~ The next day I felt an overwhelming sense of peace ~ It has been another 13 years since & I know I will not only see our Tessa but all our animals that touched our hearts & lives ~ All animals have souls & God see's to it they live on as we do ~

    December 13, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  8. jmsptk

    dead pets go to he||

    December 13, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  9. David

    Right now, I'm just trying to get my dog to "go" outside instead of "going" in the sitting room. It's tough when the temperature is minus 12 Fahrenheit degrees. I'll worry about where she "goes" in the afterlife only after we cross "rainbow bridge" together. Perhaps the immortal souls of humans and other animals don't even need to "go" once we shed this mortal shell. Here's to hoping, 'cause poo stinks.

    December 13, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  10. nonesuch

    I don't care so much about what happens to the spirit of my pets when they die. I care about their welfare and enjoyment of life and their comfort while they're here. And after reading the comments of some of the humans here, I have a higher opinion of my pets than I do of most of you.

    December 13, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  11. Master_Kush

    People, get over yourselves. When you die, you die. You dont go to some terrible or magical place, you die... Same things happens with all lifeforms.. Dogs just die. They go in the ground like humans do..

    December 13, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  12. Cristobal22

    When tissue cultures derived from embryonic stem cells die, they go to heaven to be with Jesus; when cultures derived from adult stem cells die, they just cease to exist, huh?

    December 13, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  13. C.F.K.

    Shame on you CNN.

    December 13, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
  14. burndiscoinferno

    Keep in mind the Bible was written for Man. There is nothing in the Bible regarding dogs, because dogs do not sin, and do not need Christ as a Savior or the word of God from the Bible. Dogs are free and clear, they don't need salvation, they do not sin. They go to heaven. They will be waiting for us. The question is who will get there and see their dogs again.

    December 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  15. Mike E.

    My personal belief is that all living things come from a collective energy and all living things return to that collective energy when we die. I also believe that we're not capable of truly understanding life after death as human beings. So there's lots to learn and no one person truly has the answers. So yeah, when I die I'll run into all my dogs, cats and houseplants I've ever owned.

    December 13, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  16. hellotiki

    A big golden hydrant in the sky.

    December 13, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  17. 3LittlePigs

    As Will Rogers said, " "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."

    December 13, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  18. eileen m.

    our sweet loving little dog had to be put to sleep. we were heartbroken. the next day when the world trade center came down,
    we realized that god wanted out little puppy to lovingly greet all those that were killed in the explosions.

    December 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  19. Justina

    Animals cease to exist after they die. According to the Bible. Hard truth? All humans die and face judgment after death, unless redeemed by faith in Jesus while alive. Also Truth according to the Bible. The world does not consist of wishful thinkings of humanity. Many things in life teach us that. We should be concerned about the plight of abused live humans and animals instead of making up imaginations on dead animals.

    December 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  20. Jeannot

    They just rot. What, you want a religion for animals now?

    December 13, 2010 at 10:23 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.