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. LAN

    After the death of a much beloved pet, I was heartbroken and inconsolable. I couldn't have been more than six and although my parents tried to comfort me, their attempts did me no good. My only sibling, a brother age seven saw my pain and in an uncharacteristic olive branch offered this, "If God is Love and Heaven is a perfect place, then whatever you need to be happy will be with you in Heaven. If you need him to be happy in Heaven, Sneaker will be there with you." At 45, I am still amazed at the profound wisdom and comfort my brother gave me that day.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
    • Rudence

      That really is cool!

      December 14, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  2. rhonda

    Well some of you must not have been baptized so meaning you are no christian, right. You do not beieve in chrimtmas then. right. Well iin the bible and songs there are sheep and lamb so yes there is pet heaven. Only we may not know compare human but I strongly believe pet heaven. They are free of pain, free to run around free from abusive, free from being hungry. To all of you have a nice xmas .

    December 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  3. BarryComerDesign

    ... into a garbage bag then the landfill.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  4. Clark1b

    since animals do not have a soul ... when their body dies ... that is the end.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  5. McJesus

    When pets die, they become SPAM or Hormel potted meat food product.

    When people die they become worm food, but people continue to believe winged sky fairies or horned red skinned evil dudes that live below the ground get a hold of them.. depending on whether or not they have obsessed over a magical sky daddy during the life. This sky daddy suffers from petty human emotions such as jealousy, anger, resulting in said retributory/revenge laden behavior..

    December 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • David

      aaaand in roll the atheist trolls. Always a pleasure...

      December 14, 2010 at 4:34 am |
  6. Cosmos42

    Fortunately, Reality isn't at the whim of what we find comfortable or uncomfortable.

    When our pets die they go the same place we do when we die: into the ground. This article just goes to show how infantile our mentality still is. Perhaps one day, when our species as a whole has reached an adult-level of maturity, we will get a grip on ourselves and realize that it is much better to simply accept reality than wallow in our own ego-centric fantasies.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • thebuzzardman

      When we reach that level of maturity, do we get to be as smug as you, who clearly has a stronger bead on everything than anyone else?

      Can't wait. Where do I sign up.,

      December 20, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  7. mark

    the connection you have with your dog is in life and that's that. same as your friend or family. the whole business of afterlife + second lives was an idea that was propagated to make soldiers less afraid to die. enjoy your pet and your family and your life now and stop judging people and influencing the course of the world and other people's well-being based on lame religious doctrine that was meant to manipulate you. get over it.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  8. Evil

    Heaven is what you want it to be... or else it wouldn't be called "Heaven."

    December 13, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • NL

      But what if 'your' heaven is watching others who also deserve their own heaven being tortured? God can't please everyone, right?

      December 13, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  9. nuke off

    ur cats end up at the local chinese take out and ur dogs goto the korean restaurant

    December 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  10. just me

    The human creation is a thing only a mother could love....Religion is the onlyhope we have

    December 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  11. Roland

    Of course all dogs go to heaven...it wouldn't be heaven without dogs

    December 13, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  12. Grog

    I was told tht they go to heaven so that god can use their teeth and hair for all the new babies.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  13. superbad79

    For all the people that think and believe that there is no afterlife...no heaven or hell,...what do you think will happen to you when you die? What happens to the energy (soul) that is in your body when you are alive, when you die?? Where does it go? Do you know as a matter of fact that there is nothing but death? No. correct? How can you rule out any other explanations if you don't know? Be honest with yourself. You have nothing to argue or prove to anyone but yourself.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  14. JohnnyOh2323

    LOL. Christmas gift for pet lovers? The cover art is reason enough not to get this book.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  15. NYC_Gal

    I think my cat is muslim, but the non-terrorist kind (mostly). Is he going to heaven?

    December 13, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • CuzzyLINY

      Is he facing east five times a day?

      December 13, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  16. Mike

    "If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."
    — Will Rogers

    December 13, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
    • CuzzyLINY

      Hear! Hear!

      December 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  17. JoeT

    Food processing.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  18. FroDaddy

    When you die and go to heaven, all of the dogs and cats you've had in your entire life come running to meet you.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  19. Frank

    Nobody goes anywhere when they die. They simply cease to exist. Remember the dead parrot sketch that Monty Python did?

    December 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • JoeT

      Are you saying only parrot souls exist?

      December 13, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • CuzzyLINY

      The parrot was only pining.

      December 13, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Frank: That is an ex-parrot!

      December 14, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  20. damn what happened to my CNN default name - DryHump

    ‘No, you’re not. There are only people in heaven.’ ” – i love this quote. if you can only go to heaven if you've died, how could any living human explain what is actually in a place only dead people can go. sorry religion but you are deeply flawed.

    December 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
    • Mike

      I believe that "eyes have not seen, not man imagined the glorious things that God has in store for the ones that love Him".
      And I have a great imagination.

      December 13, 2010 at 6:38 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.