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. Nick

    if your only defense is that "I have faith", then you're intentionally entering circular logic. what makes your religion different from the thousands of other religions that have come and gone across humanity? you can believe in the theoretical possibility of a God or 'intelligent design' but you can't claim to know any specifics. you're either lying or your believing your own lies to feel better about something you can't explain.

    December 14, 2010 at 4:13 am |
  2. Summarex

    OK so I'm walking to the bar and I get flattened by a meteor and I go to heaven.
    When I get there I find people and their pet dogs.
    I'm allergic to dogs.
    I go to hell?

    December 14, 2010 at 3:31 am |
  3. mother of four

    We're dog lovers here. We're also Christians. My German Shepherd just passed away at age twelve and my youngest son (who is also twelve) surprised me by asking this question afterwards. I replied that I didn't want to go a heaven without pets. But I could tell that didn't satisfy him.

    His Dad's response was better. "I believe that heaven is made up of the things that made us happy in life. If your pets make you happy while you were alive, then they'll be there."

    That was an excellent answer.

    December 14, 2010 at 3:25 am |
  4. Nick

    Maybe you should just tell your kids what seems safe until they get older. Give them the fairy tale heaven and hell and God and Jesus or whatnot, then finally reveal that there isn't a God when they're of age. Kind of like dropping the 'Santa isn't real bomb', you'll always remember the day you hear they don't exist. But you have to be honest with your kids at some point. There's a lot of good lessons there because you understand this life's the only one you've got–your word and your reputation and what you leave behind is the only part of you that endures.

    December 14, 2010 at 3:12 am |
  5. Carl

    CNN: Now 20% More Retarded.

    At least they don't have a resident priest on staff like Fox does. And yet... somehow this seems dumber.

    December 14, 2010 at 3:04 am |
  6. Cindy, you Da Man, Girl!

    My dog Cindy is definitely the top GOD of the dogs. she still licks me on some nights to wake me up.

    December 14, 2010 at 2:52 am |
  7. Slomo

    In the trash

    December 14, 2010 at 2:21 am |
  8. Sully

    If dogs can go to heaven, does that mean dogs can go to hell?

    December 14, 2010 at 2:10 am |
  9. V Saxena

    And would you atheists SOD OFF already? I'm agnostic so I'm not too far off from you, but I don't go making a huge issue every time someone mentions religion.

    December 14, 2010 at 1:38 am |
  10. V Saxena

    My dog is going str8 to hell, LOL. She has to spend 10 years minimum in the pits of hell paying for all the times she peed and pooped on my carpets!

    December 14, 2010 at 1:36 am |
  11. Franco

    For about a month now I've been reading the comments to most of the stories on here and i just find it unbelievably frightening and utterly saddening that the majority of you who post are so horribly void of any common decency or caring for one another or anything. It seems like you just try to out due each other in seeing who can post the most rotten and cold comments while somehow thinking you're funny. Are you people really filled with that much sourness?

    December 14, 2010 at 1:35 am |
    • Frogist

      @Franco: Yes, people are filled with that much sourness. Humans can be cold and cruel. Welcome to the internet. The only consolation I can give you, is that on occasion kinder opinions are sometimes voiced too.

      December 15, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  12. Gregg

    I believe I will find everything I love in heaven, so of course my pets will be there.

    December 14, 2010 at 1:35 am |
  13. Forrest

    A heaven without pets is no heaven at all.

    December 14, 2010 at 1:23 am |
  14. Adam

    But my pet goat is still pretty much SOL right?

    December 14, 2010 at 1:22 am |
  15. Norman

    WOW! All this only from the Christian Faith Perspective....and the article seems to have been written by a Hindu.

    December 14, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  16. RG

    this is the stupidest damn thing I've read in a long time. Seriously, CNN?

    December 14, 2010 at 1:09 am |
  17. DaveY

    Interesting how so many people KNOW there is NO afterlife – for us or the animals. All the so-called experts who somehow KNOW there is nothing based on what? Science? Reminds me of all the idiots who have never found a GSpot but are claiming they KNOW they don't exist. I won't bore you with personal crap because to you up until a second or so AFTER you croak, it is crap ... but I'd love to see the expression on your dumb "faces" when you do die and suddenly realize it isn't all crap and the big black just ain't there. Ooops! Surprise. See ya ....

    December 14, 2010 at 1:05 am |
    • Frogist

      @DaveY: Isn't there a huge hypocrisy in beating up on people who say there is absolutely nothing after death, while you say there is absolutely something after death? Your knowledge is based on conjecture and belief and hope, not fact either.

      December 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  18. kwm

    A good reference : Heaven (by Randy Alcorn)

    December 14, 2010 at 1:05 am |
  19. robinrh

    None of us will really know for sure until we actually die, whats in store for us.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:54 am |
  20. Joey

    Boy, that loser Michael Vick is going to have some problems in the afterlife then.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:52 am |
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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.