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. Alex

    there is no god or heaven and this is Obama's fault (LOL)

    December 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  2. ThinkGOD

    Alright guys, everybody has their beliefs and understanding of Nature and LIFE. One thing is certain, on a dead person, no amount of transplantation, blood transfusion will bring the person back to life.... so what is it? some sort of energy... you wanna call that Soul? or just energy...
    Animals have the same too. Every time you are about do some thing that is not rational or hatred driven or being selfish you always get an inner call to think! now we disregard that as our fear or being risk averse. There are two accounts for every one, the good and the bad. Hell and heaven are both on earth. Look around. There are very well to do people who can get whatever they want and then there are people who have nothing. Then there are cattle's, pigs and chicken that has been cited in the several messages above who get slotted for food everyday. Do you need a better example for HELL. Every living being has an energy source, call it what ever you want. But it is there. I don't see that any different in animals too. My belief is that if you are born as a human being with intelligence you are given a chance to credit your good account with some thing good and live a better life.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  3. a slozomby

    since sparky can not understand and accept jesus as his savior. he obviously goes to hell with the rest of the heathens.
    “No one approaches the Father but through me.” (John 14:6)

    December 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  4. Mike

    Well, in Orange County, Calif., deceased pets that are dropped off at OC Animal Care (the county dog pound) are sent to a rendering plant and the resulting protein materials are dried out and used as feed for farm-raised fish in the Asia Pacific area. No joke, look it up online. This "dogs in heaven" article made me smile, but its kind of goofy too.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  5. Masa D. Luffy

    Everyone needs to chill the hell out. I guess nobody watches cartoons here? Clearly all dogs go to heaven.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  6. tehheh

    Todd: After making that crack, you might spend eternity here - inside a dog's mouth where you're constantly getting chomped on like a rawhide bone. Fun!

    December 13, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  7. Bob

    Abraham Lincoln said, "I don't care much for a man's heaven whose dog and cat are not the better for it." If heaven is indeed some sort of Afterlife Disney, I'll expect my pets to be there. I also hope everything Sarah Palin has killed is waiting for her.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  8. Quinky

    My dog is now dust in a box on my fireplace mantle. We live. We die. The end. So make the most of it. Let's make heaven HERE on earth.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  9. rosko peta

    I learned as a child that whenever one of our many dogs and cats disappeared they had gone to an idealic farm with plenty of room to run, where the flower beds made for great napping and where they would be loved. Do I believe that, this article trying to lend intellectual heft to a super dumb belief, or my intuition that those dogs and cats, mostly mean and maybe rabid, met their maker in the woods (bullet) or the road (car)? But hey I can't say I agree with these preachers. If heaven is real there damn well better be a few dogs and cats waiting at the door for me.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  10. lolarites

    I saw my cat, Leonard, walking down the hall after he died, so I would say they have souls and can go to the otherside or be earthbound just like humans can.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  11. S. Clemmons

    Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. Mark Twain

    December 13, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  12. Mike d

    Im pretty sure they go to First Wok Chinese restaurant

    December 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  13. Pat

    It comforts me to think that cheesecake is healthy. Why listen to my cardiologist? He just brings me down.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  14. skier374

    What good is heaven if dogs aren't there with us? Frankly, dogs should be wondering where humans go at death... most of us aren't as deserving of heaven as they are!

    My dog- like most dogs- is a stellar example of unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, and compassion. I aspire to be a fraction as consistent at living these qualities as she does.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  15. John

    I look to the wisdom of those who have faced down their impending deaths. As Peter Barton wrote regarding his change of heart regarding religion, as he was dealing with his own terminal illness: "I've come to feel that nothing which gives comfort should ever be despised."

    December 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  16. cheryl

    instinct !! You know that just shows you don't know anything about animals.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  17. Ryan

    ...why in the trash can of course!

    December 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  18. Sweetenedtea

    For Christians, it's an interesting premise (indeed, it's an interesting one for most religions, but since this blog is geared toward Christianity...) If they believe their beloved pet goes to heaven but billions of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, animists, Buddhists, etc are damned now and forever to eternal torment, does this reflect of certain sociopathy in their outlook? It's not an idle question - it informs their perspective of the worth of their fellow human beings, or even whether they consider non-believers "human" in any emotional or moral sense.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  19. ApeHanger

    What happens to animals when they die?

    They experience cardiac arrest and stop breathing. Then, bugs and worms come and chow down. Nothing complicated about it!

    December 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  20. Silver

    Animals do not have souls. Check your Bible.

    Humans, however, definitely do and should also check their Bibles, lest they spend eternity wishing they had.

    December 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
    • Betty Britt

      Sorry Silver, you are WRONG. All of God's creations have souls....otherwise he would not have created them. He put a lot more of them on the ARK than he did us humans. God knew what he was doing.

      December 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • John

      Yeah, since the Bible has been proven over and over to be completely legitimate and true. Ever wonder how a book written by a perfect god could contain so much nonsense? Kill all women who are not virgins when they get married? Kill all people who work on the Sabbath? Why is it that the Bible contains so many lines that confuse and contradict? Because it was written by primitive men who thought the Earth was flat and knew nothing about the origins of our universe or evolution. Anyone who believes in any god is completely delusional, and there is NEVER an upside to that.

      December 13, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
    • Rod

      So Betty were all the animals that didn't make it on the ark evil? If not why did they have to die such a horrible death? If so what made them evil? Are there good and evil animals in the world today?

      December 13, 2010 at 7:18 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.