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. anonymous

    If my pets aren't in heaven, then I don't want to go.

    December 14, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  2. Bubba

    "Where do dogs go when they die?" Cleveland.

    December 14, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  3. queeenbeee

    why is it so horrible for animals to have souls? They are God's creation and they have emotion and personality.
    St Francis can't be wrong!

    December 14, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  4. MJ

    People be real. To go to heaven you must have a soul. God was pretty clear that humans are the only ones with a soul. If we were in old testement times you would be sacrificing your pet.

    December 14, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  5. JonathanL

    I was once a treacher's pet and I know I have a soul too. You can't tell I am a dog but that is what is great about the internet. The only thing I disagree with is that I will have an afterlife. I didn't have a pre-life and I can tell you mine has been a dog's life. When I die I want to leave ther whole 'life' thing behind. What good is death if you have to keep living. I can see flying dogs, but if pet heaven includes flying cats, I think I would like to take a rain check.

    December 14, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  6. queeenbeee

    Why is it so horrible to think that animals have souls?
    They are God's creation and I absolutely believe they have souls.
    St. Francis can't be wrong!

    December 14, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  7. HRC

    They simply go to the "other side" and will be there when we arrive. You will see your pet again.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  8. Robin Bush

    cat luver you are a loser I hope you have children

    December 14, 2010 at 8:54 am |
  9. Luke

    This is Satire, right? Oh dear, it's not. Just wow. This is a stranger argument to make, considering most species of dogs are enginereered by humans in the last few hundred years. We simply guide evolution by breeding dogs to make new species through selective choosing. Most dogs we play with today, Fido as you call them, were not created by your supernatural god, but rather by us. Weird article.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  10. Bette

    C.S. Lewis, arguably the greatest Christian apologist who ever lived, believed that the love we have for a dog can bring it to a higher level, just as the love of Christ elevates us to share in communion with him. He writes that it is his opinion our well loved pets will be with us in eternity, but it isn't an idea that can be proved in scripture.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  11. Josh

    Do the man who's worried about the cows. Don't despair. Dogs a eaten in other countries too. And seriously, I'm sure they get to go to heaven.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:50 am |
  12. Dr. Suess

    Dirt nap! Ha ha ha! Either that or they ground into dog food. Pets are souless creatures and when they die they become a worm feast.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  13. catluvver

    Cats spend eternity basking on a sunlit windowsill overlooking fields of migrating mice. Dogs can go directly to hell!

    December 14, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  14. Dave

    The " Rainbow Bridge" That is a place where our pets can go where they are free of pain and age. Where they can play with other pets. They wait for the day they are reunited with their best friend and together they cross the Rainbow Brige together.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  15. AshannaK

    I don't believe that God, in His infinite wisdom, would create such a loving creature and then deny that creature
    entrance to the Heavenly Kingdom. Our pets give unconditional love; we could all learn from their example.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  16. saddie

    Most animals have deeper souls than people. Animals don't kill without a reason, they kill for survival, for protection or food, unlike people. Dogs are angels sent by God to take care of us and where do angels come from? HEAVEN

    December 14, 2010 at 8:44 am |
    • Frank

      You forget one important fact. Humans domesticated dogs, not God. Fact number 2. Humans are here by mere chance and statistics, evolution driven by random mutations and natural selections. Want proof? It works the same way as "artificial selection". That's how dog breeds are developed over short time periods (relative to natural selection)

      December 14, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  17. Dave

    Pets go to the " Rainbow Bridge". There they wait for their beloved master to join then. It a place where all that pained them in life is gone and they can run and jump and have all the fun they want. All that is missing is you.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  18. Charles

    Christian theology is quite clear. They don't know Jesus, so they are condemned to an eternity of burning torture.

    That is, if Christianity is actually, well, correct.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  19. slice

    I remember hearing about that dog Penny mentioned in the article, that the family adopted while vacationing in Mexico. It turned out to be a mexican long-haired rat! No serioiusly. It's my cousin's neighbors.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  20. Frank

    Leap of faith? Sure, add another requirement to the already "leap of faith" for life after death. Let me clue you in. Just because you believe doesn't make it true. The universe is indifferent to any and all life. We're here, our pets are here from mere chance and statistics. Get a perspective on the scope of space and time and you'll begin to understand how. Before Darwin it appeared that there must be an intelligent designer. What else could have created this complex organic life? Well, now we known. It was driven by random mutations and natural selection. We're here for a split second within the scale and during the time, 8 billion years, of Earth's total existence. Nice way to make money, telling people what they want to believe.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:36 am |
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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.