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. Scott Walper

    Im not a religious person, but having had my beloved pet wolf of 14 years die in my arms, I would have to hope she has gone to "doggie heaven". For all you nay sayers who believer only evil, nasty people with deal with on a daily basis go to heaven, may I just say...I d have rather dealt with my pet any old day than the nasty, obnoxious, self servicing !@#holes I run across everyday ......

    December 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  2. Schmit

    "..Tompkins' book is written for animal lovers who are dissatisfied by this response." – really, so if we hear something we don't like, we can church-hop and seek different avenues until we find someone that says something that tickles and itches my ears. Awesome! Yay! Christianity is easy! You just say a prayer, and then find people who say things that I like.

    This is why Christianity looks no different than the rest of the world... and they are called a bunch of hypocrites. Some times, I'm embarrassed to even call myself a Christian because it has a different meaning nowadays.... Christians don't even follow God/Christ... they still follow themselves.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
    • Schmit

      yes, i know heathens. incorrect punctuation, spelling, grammar.. lol. Also, I spoke globally about "Christians" and I should have worded that differently. It surely is widespread.

      December 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • HMartinez

      Why don't you read Isaiah Chapter 11 verses 6-9 The Peaceful Kingdom. Read also Proverbs Chapter 12 verse 10. I used the Good News Bible also know as Today's English Version. I do think animals are in heaven.

      December 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • Schmit

      @Hmartinez... you are taking scripture out of context. Read the full word of God... Specifically verses 9, 10..i htink 11. (Referring to Is11). It's about the 2nd coming of Christ when the kingdom is established on the earth Not the heavenly kingdom. That's exactly what people do... they take something out of context to fulfill their beliefs.

      Same on the proverbs reference. Speaking of things on earth... and you are twisting them to say things in heaven. Completely 100% turned the word of God into something that it is not saying. Why don't you do this... read prov 3:5-8.

      I'm not necesasrily disagreeing with the book.. but how people seek things and latch onto the things that align w/ their own ideals... The bible is not clear on animals in heaven.. There is not a teaching specific to it in the bible, thus we should not base an opinion... just to sell books to the itching ears.

      God does the molding and the teaching... not man

      December 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
    • hmartinez

      It is not fully agreed if Isaiah Chapter 11 talks about the second coming of Christ or a particular reign. This sound like heaven on earth and the writer uses animal behavior to describe peace. Isaiah is more about the birth of Christ on earth. I'm aware of taking scripture out of context. The Bible has been referred to justify slavery, racial segregation etc. Proverbs 12 -10 states that God loving men care for their animals while wicked men are cruel to theirs. God's word is often taught by flawed men

      December 13, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  3. Swami Salami

    Dying is not the recompense of "sin", as the fundamentalist would have us to believe, but rather it's nature's answer to the sheer insanity of "living forever" within an organism whose neurological makeup is incapable of retaining and processing the information collected over endless eons. If it is true that energy, which, below the molecular level is all we really are, can neither be created nor destroyed, then an argument could be made for reincarnation. We die, but our essence then lives on in another organism, as amnesiacs, retaining only a partial recollection of our former selves, piecemeal memories of a previous incarnation buried deep within our psyche accessible only through past life regression.

    Feel free to laugh. I know I did. But if you really think about it, it makes about as much sense as anything written in the Bible. And oh yeah, animals are cool...

    December 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  4. Wolfe

    Fido goes into the furnace is where he goes.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  5. Brian Macker

    Good news, pets go to the same place as people. Bad news ...

    December 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  6. We'll All Find Out Eventually

    Its funny seeing all the typical CNN comment crowd that opposes ALL THINGS religion with bitter hatred and anger........reading the "Belief Blog". I suspect though its just making you more bitter and angry. Perhaps something less stressful next time.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  7. Joshua

    IF there is such a thing as heaven and hell, than I am sure that ALL dogs are going to heaven, most people naturally belong in hell – monotheistic idiots, most of all.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  8. Barking Alien

    They go to that great kennel is the sky. Where there are an endless supply of bones and table scraps.....no really what kind of crack is this guy smoking. Nobody knows for certain what happens to people after they did let alone Fido.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  9. Pat

    Why do so many non-believers come to read the Belief blog. Maybe they're not so sure after all. Just sayin.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Pat: Why do believers come here? Maybe they're not so sure either. Personally, I think you come here the same reason I come here. To read, learn, question, debate. Unless of course you're only here to troll.

      December 14, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  10. Oskar

    Oh my dog!!! And I thought this blog could not get any dumber. I guess I'd like to know: where will my atheist dog go when he dies?

    December 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  11. J.C.

    if you wish for your pet to be with you in heaven, i believe your pet will be, no questions asked. God knows what you desire. Guardian Angels or real, i should have died in 78 and in 87 for reasons unknown to me i am still here.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  12. David M

    This is silly. If animals go to heaven, then where do you draw the line? What about Mice? What about grasshoppers, what about scorpions, what about single-celled organisms. We have to draw a line somewhere.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
    • West Coast

      All those creatures you listed are animals. Including humans. There is no reason to draw a line anywhere. Either there is a heaven for all or none. Take your pick.

      December 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  13. Phil

    How sad for you, Bob. I wonder what brings you joy in life, besides trolling this page. If you choose not to believe, then don't. But don't put down those of us that do. Guess we won't be "Seeing you later", eh?

    December 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
    • Bob

      What brings me joy in my life? Lots of things. Having fun with my friends, going out for a night on the town and genuinely helping people get better from a disease that ruins lives.

      Trolling isn't the correct term. Aggressive debate would be more apt. I'm not looking for responses for responses sake. I'm genuinely trying to shock people into thinking about what position they hold. Because honestly, the majority of people who have faith I meet, genuinely have not given any thought to what they believe.

      December 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  14. Grog

    All my cats do is lounge around all day on a warm comfortable bed. Occassionally, they get up and stretch, eat or go outside (only when the weather is nice). I can't imagine any place better than that. Heck...when I die, I want to go where they are now.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  15. Spence

    unfortunately, no person and no animal has a soul. it is a human invention, as this man is showing how to invent one for your dog.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  16. morgan dorgan 4 ur sorkin

    hmmm......where do animals go? NOWHERE!!! animals were created like the rest of us. we have intelligence, and free will, but the beast has only desires. for all who believe animals will live on, consider this:if i'm bitten by a snake and die. what will happen to the snake? It doesn't understand it did something bad, but it did. so does that mean it will go to hell? Laugh out loud to all you animal lovers. they'll all die. then the only use they'll have is their delicious large intestines used in Chinese restaurants

    December 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  17. Jay

    Pets go to heaven? Really??? Why stop there, does this include birds and fish too? What about insects and bacteria do they have a soul too? Lol where do you religious nuts draw the line?

    December 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  18. Zachary

    This type of faith is absurd, silly, embarrassing, and appears innocuous. Yet this believe that you can just "know" something emotionally is behind the greatest evils ever committed. Faith is dangerous, and being proud of believing in that which has no cause to be believed, is the only way you get people burning children as witches.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • John

      I disagree. Cold-hearted logic has been the cause of great evil as well, when human beings are regarded as objects in the game of warfare or business, where the only goals are winning and maximizing profits.

      December 13, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  19. pops

    ah, the ole DOD CR project. Best of luck. Hope this one goes better than the time wasted on all the other failed efforts.....

    December 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  20. H4dummies

    The book is about what he has observed and his hypothsis, by no means is it fact. There is still no fact that you or I have souls or that God exists. It is in our FAITH that we believe. Just because animals act like animals doesn't mean they are soulless. They live by instincts, sights, sounds and smells the way God made them. We have reprogramed many of them for our purpose. We were made from dirt and dirt we shall go back to, so that could mean we have no souls. God made the Earth and all living things, so we are all a part of God. Man was made to be the caretaker too bad he hasn't been such a good one at that

    December 13, 2010 at 5:29 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.