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. floyd

    Where do the souls of our beloved pets go is as perplexing as the whereabouts of the departed souls of family members & friends...The same place ? Perhaps, perhaps not but we'll only know when we go to join them & by then it'll not matter.

    December 15, 2010 at 2:44 am |
  2. Jen

    Only Christians would be dumb enough to have this kind of discussion.

    December 15, 2010 at 2:21 am |
  3. David

    Immediately after death, dogs and cats (at least those that have lived amongst humans) go to the same interim place as humans (what the Tibetans call the Bardo). However they spend a lot less time here than humans. Animals unlike humans do not have individual souls, so after this Bardo period, the souls of the dogs/cats join the group soul for dogs (or the one for cats), and no longer act as separate beings. Humans on the other hand remain as separate souls until their next birth

    December 15, 2010 at 1:32 am |
  4. Craig Roberts

    We loved your article. We have a dog that looks exactly like the one pictured. He was a stray and we found him in April 2006 and we don't know his breed. Can you tell us?

    December 14, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
  5. Paul Murray

    How would you collect data on this? The only thing I can think of is that you teach Fido some sort of trick, kill him, then have a seance and confirm that it's really him and not just some impostor. You's have to do it several times to collect reliable data.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I think Houdini has been working on something similar for at least a couple of decades...

      December 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
  6. marconi darwin


    Fido goes into a shallow pit of mud where more mud is placed on him, making sure that Fido is deep enough not to stink up the joint.

    Unless Fido happened to be caught by Michael Vick, In that case he is probably in a garbage bag headed for the dump, where he may or may be incinerated.

    Sometimes, in some Asian countries Fido makes it to the entrails of humans. Tartar sauce, BBQ sauce. SLUURPPP!

    December 14, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  7. Seamus Ruah

    Where do sperm go when they die?

    This has to be one of the most stupid articles ever written by a fake journalist.

    "Every sperm is sacred..."

    December 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  8. Mike

    Christians are so naive. They come on here and are surprised that there are actually people out there that dont believe in souls or heaven. My mother had a stroke and her personality completely changed. Now she is mean and diminished. Which mother goes to heaven? The pre-stroke mother, or the post stroke mother? Neither. Her brain was damaged and the brain is the personality. Once someone dies, the brain no longer functions. That's it. Religious people need to drop their magic fantasies and grow up. This article is just plain embarrassing.

    December 14, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  9. DA

    Seems the author doesn't understand the Bible very well–since he believes people go to "heaven" ??? A bit of study will reveal that God's plan of salvation will be here on the earth–the Kingdom of God is on the EARTH!
    As for soul–the word (nephesh in the Hebrew) appears 800 times in the Bible but never with "immortal" –and men and animals are made the same–both as "living souls" –the real issue at hand is who can be granted immortality? And the answer is only someone who has heard the gospel. believes it, is transformed by it and is baptised.
    I am the biggest animal lover in the world but sadly–animals will never understand the gospel nor be baptised.

    December 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  10. CatholicMom

    A Dog's Purpose? (from a 6-year-old).

    Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

    I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

    As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

    The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

    The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
    Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

    Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

    He said,"People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life - like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The Six-year-old continued,

    "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

    December 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Bob

      Except for the ones that maul children right?

      Good life my right eye.

      December 14, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  11. Steve

    I'm amazed I live on a planet where billions of adults believe in magic and fairy tales. Why don't you guys care if your beliefs are true? I understand they may make you feel good, but it seems obvious that they are the stories of dim witted iron age tribes. Please, join us in the 21st century.

    December 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
  12. imherefromtheinternet

    This has to be the stupidest thing ever written.

    December 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  13. Chad

    This is the dumbest article I've read in a long time.

    December 14, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  14. Everybody knows.....

    Animals do not go to heaven because heaven was created with animals already there, and there already are enough animals. Just normal ones like dogs, cats, sheep, (being a lonely farm boy, my personal favorite) and horses. No dinosaurs, no unicorn, no dragons, so don't be ridiculous you haters. There's some lions, various tigers, elephants, zebras, and some friendly snakes, nothing poisonous or with fangs. And all the animals let you pet them with your ghost hands. The carnivores are allowed to eat the other animals, but they keep coming back, like Captain Scarlet used to do every time he died, or like Kenny on South Park. Their bodies regenerate to become food again, for us as well. That cow you eat in heaven was probably eaten thousands of time, kind of like my ex wife while she cheated on me with 5 other guys. I don't think she'll be in heaven though.

    December 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  15. Adam

    That's probably why you believe it then...

    December 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  16. Valkyrie607

    So I’m guessing that whoever is in charge of writing for CNN’s religious section is a mole for a secret atheist conspiracy to make religious people look stupid.

    December 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      A mole or a secret conspiracy, sponsored by anyone, is not required...

      December 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  17. Marty

    After reading the comments on this article I can't help but come to the conclusion that the average amoeba is brighter by far than the the average commenter on this page. Smarter and possessing more class. So why shouldn't they stand a better chance of making it to Heaven?

    December 14, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  18. Mister Slave

    Jeethus Christh, I have a dead gerbil in my large intestine, why don't you ask him? His name is Lemmiwinks. He's in there with the Sparrow King and the Frog Prince.
    Oh, Jeethus Christh!

    December 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  19. Jed from next door

    Well, iffin you take them up the hill, over the the briars, there's a place the Indians used to take their dead. The pet cemetery. But what goes in there doesn't always come out the way it was. Sometimes, dead is bettah.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  20. -

    If even the inanimate "things," which you have loved, are provided in your afterlife, the discussion on companionship is moot.

    For instance, noone considers it political, to ask whether you would see your favorite pair of sneakers again, or your first car.

    The question is perhaps, meant to preempt the stricter, Protestant doctrines on redemption, which applies only to repentant humans, who expressly accept it, to the exclusion of all other means of salvation.

    (Further reading on the afterlife -
    John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8-9)

    December 14, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
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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.