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. DoppelV

    I use this particular scenario as the ultimate question to any religion. I will know if I get to heaven, because all of my furry friends will be there waiting for me. If they are not there, then I am in hell, plain and simple. Therefore, if a religion believes that there is no heaven for my friends, then I have no business adhering to it, because no matter what, I'm already doomed. That's why I tend to gravitate more toward the scientific side on most issues. But when it comes to this question, I already know the answer. Animals have souls, I don't need any scientific proof to know this. Sometimes, there are just things you know in your heart. I know I love my family, I can say that till I'm blue in the face, but it doesn't scientifically prove it. I know I love my pets, and I know they love me. I pity anyone who hasn't felt that kind of love, you are truly missing out. Heaven is big enough for all creatures.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:49 am |
    • Rod Venger

      You make a good point and let me expand on it. I'm a believer, no doubt. I'm also human, with my wants and needs. I NEED my pets...they are as much family as my wife, whom I also NEED. Heaven would not be Heaven without them – my wife or pets. I suspect that God understands this, whether he chose to address it in the Bible or not.

      For those that say there's no proof of God, I say "Nonsense". Proof is everywhere...butterflies and hummingbirds. Bears and snakes. Ants and beetles. Not only is there the beauty that only God could create (nature (evolution) has no need to make things beautiful, does it?) but there's a system in place as well, one that's naturally sustaining. I look at a woman...or a hummingbird or a mountain valley in the fall...and I see proof of God right there.

      December 14, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  2. jhhen

    Is it not strange that we refer to dogs and cats as dumb animals. They understand what we are saying. We still don't have a clue what they are saying. Now I ask you, who are the dumb ones.?

    December 14, 2010 at 12:48 am |
  3. image42

    If people want to believe they will go to paradise and be with their pets, more power to em.

    Its all made up fictional stories anyway.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  4. Elizabeth Wells

    I work in the vet industry. The Rainbow Bridge is a story, or kind of a poem, that explains to pet owners where they go spiritually after they die. Look it up. It is quite beautiful. I discusses where your pet waits for you until you die. And that they no longer suffer. Dog deserve to go to heaven as much if not more then most people I believe.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:45 am |
    • Rod Venger

      I can't disagree – of the pets that I've had, I prefer them to most people.

      December 14, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  5. violinman

    When animals die, they are dead. From ameba to monkey. They are not made in the image of the one true living God, sovereign of heaven. They won't be there.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:44 am |
  6. image42

    "If I can be re-born after I die, I want to come back as Pam Anderson's bikini"

    your wish will be granted and Pam will be age 90 at that point.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:42 am |
  7. jim

    "Where do dogs go when they die?"... Well if they're Republicans, obviously they go to heII.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  8. image42

    "I believe, if heaven is this perfect place"

    And theres the rub. Heaven isnt perfect according to the Bible. Angels raising hell and getting kicked out, hardly perfect ...

    December 14, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  9. tj

    How can this be classified as news? Why not just report a detailed biography of Santa Claus? Poor form, CNN. Poor form.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:36 am |
  10. MS

    Same place humans go. Nowhere. There is no heaven no hell no purgatory no pearly gates nothing folks.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:28 am |
  11. Sammy Hagar

    Are there Unicorns in heaven mommy?

    December 14, 2010 at 12:27 am |
  12. Faithful

    blahblahblah... BORING!

    December 14, 2010 at 12:26 am |
  13. Rod Venger

    Biblically, there's no reason to believe that our pets will be in heaven when (if ) we go there. But the fact that the Bible is silent doesn't mean they will not be. The bible is silent on a lot of things. God created the Earth...Genesis says so. We now know there's other planets besides the Earth but the Bible never said anything about God creating them. God created Man and Woman and all of the animals of the Earth. What of life on other planets? The Bible is silent yet most people will concede that there's likely other life out there, intelligent, maybe, maybe not.

    Pets in Heaven actually makes sense since they are so important to many of us in this life, a very positive aspect of our lives in an otherwise very negative world. That the Bible and Jesus never spoke of it isn't necessarily telling one way or the other. I do now this for certain: I lose nothing by believing in God, lose nothing else by hoping that the pets I've outlived will meet me in Heaven.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:25 am |
  14. bob searcy

    oh i hope that yappin sob went straight to hell..

    December 14, 2010 at 12:23 am |
  15. Yamila

    We can assure, but we can't deny...
    It is so arrogant to say that humans have souls but the other animals don't..we are animals, we belong to the same universe.....
    Humans, cats, dogs, plants etc.......we are part of the same. Some people specially fanatics religious put as humans in an so arrogant position!
    We know nothing!

    December 14, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  16. Beelzebozo

    To that great puff-piece in the sky, apparently.
    drum fill, puh-leaze

    December 14, 2010 at 12:06 am |
  17. Ryan

    Religion is funny. Make the one life you have here on Earth useful and satisfying.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  18. Numberdontlie

    I think even in the religion scenario, to have a soul is to be able to sin and tell the difference between sinning and not sinning. I do not believe animals have that capability. jmo

    December 14, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  19. VegasRage

    Where does Fido go when he dies? The crematorium of course, come on people.

    December 13, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
  20. mysunnyboy88

    MY heaven will bring me happiness forever, and it wouldn't be happiness without my four-legged friends, so therefore mysunnyboy will be there waiting on me, woof

    December 13, 2010 at 11:55 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.