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. s. pimpernel

    I'm sure the fleas on the dog also go to flea heaven; it's only fair.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  2. Charlie

    If you read the last two chapters of Revelations, you will see that dogs are clearly consigned to Hell.

    Revelations 21:8: Bu as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murders, fornicators, sorcerers, idolators, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.

    Revelations 22:15: Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and muderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

    In no version of the Bible I've seen is their a footnote explaining that 'dogs' really means tax collectors or thieves or refers to Revelations 21:8. In this case, dogs clearly and literally means dogs.

    The Bible is silent, however, on the subject of cats.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
    • -

      "Dogs," is an archaic figure of speak.

      December 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  3. Tratheist

    I am pretty sure that Jesus said that the only way to the father is through him. I do not recall any animals coming to him and being healed. I do not recall any animal prophets. I do not recall that it says, anywhere in the bible, that animals have souls. I do not recall that the bible ever insinuated that animals will go to heaven.

    Now, having said that, I may be totally wrong. However, the only reason I can find that the author wrote this book is because of the mindless sheep (sheeple) that he knew would buy it. He needed to make some money, so he found a topic that is just controversial enough to sell for a profit. Just look at all the comments this article about the book has generated.

    I, for one, am an Atheist, so I don't believe in any of it anyway, but if you do, good for you. I am happy for you. Do not take this book on blind faith. Do your research.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  4. Are you serious?

    Oh for nobody's sake at all, is there any reason at all to publish this tripe? If people choose to believe a magic sky daddy loves Fido, they will believe Fido goes to heaven. But to pretend to "prove" it by combing through magic sky daddy fiction, instantly squaring the nonense quotient, and then to write about it on CNN, is almost, ALMOST, enough to make me blieve the only God is the God of Really Silly People.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  5. Jimmy

    Sheep go to Heaven, Goats go to Hell................... Final answer

    December 14, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  6. SteveInNYC

    I can't believe this crap gets posted on CNN. Really? We get out pets back in heaven? There's no evidence or reason to even believe there's an afterlife. You fear death, I get it. But it's just wishful thinking to believe you get to live on forever because of "god's love". It's goofy. Everything dies, the brain stops functioning, it can't go on. Grow up. Face reality and enjoy life and your pets.

    December 14, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    Heaven doesn't exist.
    When brain death occurs, your consciousness, ego, sense of self (whatever you want to call it) disappears never to exist again.
    But if it is any consolation, we are all immortal in the sense that the atoms which make up our bodies will continue on their merry way forever.

    December 14, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • Jimmy

      brain death? now there's something that most people know quite well.

      December 14, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  8. dave

    Someone wrote a book about this?

    And people buy it?

    PT Barnum was right. His business model lives on.

    December 14, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  9. Levi in NY

    Seriously, CNN? What's your next blog entry going to be about, whether or not leprechauns could have survived the fall of Atlantis?

    December 14, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  10. R

    What a lot of rubbish. None of us go to heaven when we die, human,canine or anything else. There is no heaven. Grow up!

    December 14, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  11. Bruce

    I guess it depends on what you believe here on earth but that doesn't necessarily mean it will happen. Protestants who use the Bible have to conclude that there are animals in heaven because of the mention of horses in the book of The Revelation. With that said, heaven will not be an improved earth. It will not be structured like earth has been structured. The Bible says,"For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. Matthew 22:30 I do not beleive animals go to heaven because Christ died and rose again for the created humans that made the choice to fall and can make the choice to receive the finished work of Christ blood for the remission of sins. Animals do not have a will to sin or not. It is called instinct. They have godly characteristics that remind us of a wonderful God who loves. If there is an animal that would make a person happier that God can it will make it to heaven. I would be careful saying that something the Creator created was better than the Creator, though.

    December 14, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  12. Joseph

    Heaven, for a fly, is the rotting carcass of a dog. Does anyone wonder if our ancestors, like Ardipithicus ramidus, will greet us in heaven?

    December 14, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  13. Annabelle's Dad

    I just can not believe how many people, religious or not, can be so cold.. Obviously most pet lovers were too depressed by even reading the headline of the article to read it, click on it or even post. Maybe because if you have ever lost a true friend of a pet, you never get over it. It seems the majority of posts here, one way or the other, are from people who believe their opinion is always the right one. And to tell the truth, the entire discussion makes me feel stupid for believing most people in the world were good and decent or atleast had good hearts. It looks to me like I was wrong.

    December 14, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  14. Apostle Eric vonAnderseck

    The Books of Enoch cover that question; 2Enoch58:4-6

    December 14, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  15. Jimmy V

    I love all these people who have NO belief in a heaven, hell or afterlife. Lets look at this logically, shall we? If what you believe is true, that there is NO God or heaven, then when we all die, we will end up in the same miserable place of "nothingness" that you envision. BUT, on the other hand, if there IS a God and there is HIS heaven, then you stand the most to lose for your unbelief. Funny thing, the way Christians choose to live their lives "on earth" tend to make them BETTER citizens than "non-believers" because most non-Christians believe that if there is nothing AFTER this life, they will do all they can to GET WHAT THEY CAN NOW and screw everyone else in the process. If there is no GOD, then I can do whatever is good in my own eyes. I for one would rather live my life believing in God than to live my life not believing and find out, after I died, that I was wrong. Ask most people, who they would rather have as a neighbor. A Christian or a non-Christian? Hands down, Christian people are more honorable, trust-worthy, kind and caring! End of lesson!!!

    December 14, 2010 at 10:04 am |
    • Mike

      How can nothingness be miserable? Were you miserable 2,000 years ago when you did not exist?

      December 14, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • David Weidner

      Christians are more honorable and trustworthy? Really? Is that why 97% of the prison population in the USA identify themselves as christian, while only 1% call themselves atheists? What about secular countries like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have very low crime rates, and a high standard of living. Meanwhile, countries with very large percentages of christians, like Columbia, Mexico, and Nicaragua are absolutely riddled with crime. You just run your mouth spouting total misinformation as usual. You think dogs go to heaven, fine. As far as reality goes, you have no idea what you are talking about. As usual.

      December 15, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
    • civiloutside

      I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you don't have much actual day-to-day interaction with any atheists.

      December 15, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  16. Apostle Eric vonAnderseck

    The Books of Enoch cover that question; 2Enoch58:4-6

    December 14, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  17. Pitt Cairn

    Isn't this fun? Anyone who REALLY knows what death is like – isn't posting here!

    December 14, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  18. Apostle Eric vonAnderseck

    The Books of Enoch cover that question; 2Enoch58:4-6 (You will be suprised)

    December 14, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  19. rinde

    the bible says nothing about the spirit of animals ,there is only a place writen were king solomon was confused about were the spirit of man and animals go but the fact is that when animals die the breath of God in them return back to God

    December 14, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  20. anonymous

    I consider myself to be an Agnostic Deist. I am one of thse who believe that the existence of God is unknowable, but I want to believe that there is something bigger than us.

    December 14, 2010 at 9:58 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
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.