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. Katie

    They go to the same place as humans go. Duh!!

    December 14, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  2. John

    Try one of the many belief systems that include reincarnation. Instead of worrying about doggy heaven or doggy hell, the soul returns to the Source, and then when something new is born, it draws from the Source.

    It's like a big lake, and everything that lives is carrying a cup of water. When they die, the water is poured into the lake. When something is born, it scoops up water from the lake in a cup. Nothing is ever lost. We're the universe trying to figure itself out.

    December 14, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  3. Tim

    30Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

    31The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

    Psalm 104

    December 14, 2010 at 7:17 am |
  4. Phyllis

    I am going to heaven and I am not going without my beloved animals sharing my space. How could there be a "perfect" place w/o our beloveds whether they are animals or humans? Birds will be singing, dogs barking, cats meowing, people talking, and on and on...my dogs will be taking hikes in a great wilderness with me! No animals in heaven...dumbest thing I ever heard. God loves those animals too...they are His creation.

    December 14, 2010 at 7:17 am |
  5. really

    All Dogs go to the Rainbow Bridge when they pass away to wait for their people.

    December 14, 2010 at 7:14 am |
  6. Done with this.

    That's it, I'm done with CNN.
    Didn't even bother to read this inane story and I'll never read another on this lame "news" site again.
    If you want me, I'll be reading BBC.com.

    December 14, 2010 at 7:13 am |
  7. Mr Reason

    I love my dog with all my heart but I have no delusions that I will ever see him again when his heart stops beating. I feel the same for all of my friends and family. Stop worrying about the mythical bearded giant man in the sky and live your lives. Believe or have faith in what ever you want, but it dont expect rational thinking people to accept ridiculous notions of magical happenings and blissful afterlife just becuase guys like Falwell and Haggard say its true.

    December 14, 2010 at 7:01 am |
  8. freetime1

    Q: "What happens to animals when they die?"

    A: It depends. Not if they were good or bad but what they were. Take the cow that died. Well it was turned into food and it's skin was used for a sofa. In the long turn they decompose just like pople. You see there is no god involved. God is just a man made idea, not an animal made idea, so don't push that junk on them.

    December 14, 2010 at 6:58 am |
  9. Steven

    I don't know but my cat Butters serves me well and is a great companion exceeding all that is expected by God for an animal, all the things that God wishes I would be but I fall short. If anyone deserves to go to heaven its him. There has to be some reward for that. I dont think god would create animals just to die, whats the point of creating them.

    December 14, 2010 at 6:57 am |
  10. RodBfromNC

    Jeeze "Ptolemy"-who NAMED you? Hippocrates? Or maybe Hansdrubal or Caesar-–Maybe Caligula?

    December 14, 2010 at 6:49 am |
  11. John

    What about that vegetable you ate last night sg? Will it be in heaven? It was alive and you killed it just to satisfy your hunger. Disgusting! I think that you should simply give up eating.

    December 14, 2010 at 6:48 am |
  12. someone

    you are all missing the big question... will we need to pick up after our dog in heaven or will out saintly animals be freed from the need to poop? and if there is an absence of poo would any dog truly consider it heaven???! i think not sir!

    December 14, 2010 at 6:46 am |
  13. Chris

    Wish thinking at its worst. But then thats religion for you – shut down critical thinking and replace it with non sense.

    December 14, 2010 at 6:38 am |
  14. maddawg


    do you lemmings know what common sense is? or even reality for that matter??

    you cultist following, brain-dead, zero ability to think and decide for yourself fools......you'll always be left in the paganistic mind-set of the typical lemming follower.

    you do know it is the year 2010 don't you? have your brains not even comprehended the concept of anything NOT related to you being iTards that must believe everything you're told??

    pathetic sheeple.....keep on praying for that miracle that you'll never see because your beliefs in false concepts. perhaps a brick to your head may help dislodge the stupid so you can get some actual thoughts of reality moving through it.

    you sheeple always make me laugh though.....so thanks for that! 🙂

    December 14, 2010 at 6:32 am |
  15. RogindaUP

    Never ceases to amaze me, how much FAITH atheists really have! 8^]

    December 14, 2010 at 6:29 am |
  16. Jack Kavorkian

    Look into my eyes .... WORMFOOD

    December 14, 2010 at 5:44 am |
  17. RogindaUP

    I personally do not believe that dogs, cats, horses, chimps, what have you, 'all go to heaven;' or the idea we'll 'reunited' with our pets in paradise - any more than with all our family members & loved ones who've gone before. (Not in any form that we'd recognize or even care about, in any case; every soul in heaven will be too busy continuously worshiping & praising God - earthly relationships do not exist & will not matter in His Presence... However, I will say this: Just as surely as God has prepared a place for those who believe, not more than 3 hours before she died – while playing ball in the backyard – our Border Collie-Shepard Mix suddenly stopped her play, looked up at me – very intently & deeply, for just a few seconds – & 'told' me, on a spiritual level, that we didn't have much longer to play together... Then, just as quickly, she was off again chasing her ball. A half hour later we went inside & she laid down for the last time. An hour later we carried her to the vet & learned her stomache was full of cancer. ...I'd never put much stock in the idea of animal telepathic communication before that evening 5 years ago; suffice to say, of this much at least, I'm a 'true believer,' today.

    December 14, 2010 at 5:28 am |
  18. Steve

    I have had experiences which totally cofnirm for me that animals have souls and they do migrate to other dimensions just as we can. However there is a lot more to it than the antropomorphic religions kindy stories. Sorry that's all I am going to say, but take it from me, as we have a spirit so do animals. In fact they are in many ways more aware of these other dimensions than most of us, who merely have faith in them.

    December 14, 2010 at 5:20 am |
  19. DJ

    I have gotten a lot of love, compassion and caring from my pets I have had more so than from humans or even most of my family. When my mother passed away and everyone else had someone to turn to, my mother's dog came up to me, put her paw on my leg and gave me a look of deep sorrow that I never knew an animal would be capable of and a look of I am here for you;, I feel your pain. When my mom passed away she had an angelic smile on her face that makes me believe in heaven, my mother was very religious. All the pain she suffered was wiped away from her face and my aunt who was dear to her unexpectedly died at the same time. The world without animals/pets would be a lonely place.

    December 14, 2010 at 5:02 am |
    • Jack Kavorkian

      I think your telepathic pet wanted to know when supper might be coming.

      December 14, 2010 at 5:48 am |
  20. NHop

    They go to the same place we'll all go: it's called oblivion.

    December 14, 2010 at 4:31 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.