Will My Dog Go to Heaven?

When I was growing up, the consensus of religious scholars was that animals have no soul, and therefore, there’s no place for them in heaven.

Indeed, that was the philosophy of Descartes, who wrote in Meditations that animals are automatons with no souls, mind, or reason.

Happy dog with a new toy? And what is that cat doing, anyway?

But as I have grown older, I have watched more people develop close relationships with animals, as close as any other family member. Many of us even refer to our companion animals as “children.”

As scientists show us that animals have feelings, and share community, the religious scholars began to debate that premise. Surely animals have a greater worth than just to be here for our pleasure.

Now we have priests and pastors crawling out of the woodwork to bless animals as a part of the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, celebrated on October 4th.

And here he is this morning with his new toy. Three days and it's still intact!
And here he is this morning with his new toy. Three days and it’s still intact!

And there are numerous web sites grappling with the question of whether animals go to heaven.

Sadly, many still subscribe to the thinking of Descartes, yet that way of thinking is slowly, but surely, going by the wayside.

The question now becomes, how will we see animals? Are they sentient beings with rights the same as humans? Or are they lesser creatures that are here to serve us at our pleasure?

What role do you see animals playing on this planet? And what’s the next stop for your beloved companion animal after this life?

53 thoughts on “Will My Dog Go to Heaven?

  1. I once nearly punched a friend because he insisted that animals didn’t have souls which meant my childhood pet (a collie named Happy) wouldn’t be waiting for me. He’s up there, romping around along with our late Mal (Aleye), waiting.

  2. Animals play a greater roll on this planet than many realise Jen.. And I can honestly say Hand on heart as a medium.. I have brought many a pet back to their owner.. The owners were strangers to me.. Yet I would see the breed of dog, colour of cat. Even brought a Parrot back to say hello once.. which I very nearly didnt give, as it seemed so unlikely.. But got him spot on to the phrase he would repeat.. 🙂 My own cats have let me know they are fine.. And Yes they do have a soul once they have connected with human love.. While others have group souls… There is a lot we do not know … But yes Dogs continue after death in our next dimension .. This is but a place we stop to experience…

    Love and Blessings Jen…. Hugs Sue x

    1. The more we think of how we’ll see animals on other planes, the more our perceptions of them will change on this one. So let’s keep those folks talking to their beloveds!

  3. A guy walks into a Catholic church and tells the Priest, “Father, my old dog of 15 years – Shep – has finally passed. I was hoping you might say some words over him at Sunday’s Mass.” The Priest is incensed. “This is the Holy Roman Catholic Church! What’s the matter with you! We don’t say Mass over Dogs!” The man says, “You’re right Father. I don’t know what I could have been thinking. Forgive me for my impudence. Do you think perhaps the Protestants, down the street…?” “That’s right,” says the Priest, “go to the Protestants. They’ll pray over anything.”

    As the man is leaving, he asks the Priest, “By the way, Father. Do you think a thousand dollars would be a sufficient offering?” The Priest responds, “My God, son! Why didn’t you tell me the dog was Catholic?”

  4. Great post Jen. I believe animals go to heaven and that they have souls and I have to have faith our lost loves both furry and human will be waiting for us when it’s our time to enter the clearing. Happy Wednesday!

  5. It’s a good question! As a born again Christian I truly believe that God made all things in heaven and earth including the animals on the earth, so why wouldn’t God want them in heaven too? When He made animals and everything else, He declared it as ‘good’. I think there’s a good possibility they have souls, it’s quite possible that they don’t have a conscience like humans do though.

    I have read many accounts (in Christian books) of people dying – albeit during resuscitation etc., and are successfully brought back to life, and while ‘away’ from their body they say they visited heaven (although some see hell and come back and change their whole lifestyle as a result) and they quite often say they have seen their pets which have died in this life.

    Think of passages in the Bible that speak of the lion lying down with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid. In Revelation horses and other creatures are mentioned. In Psalm 138:8 it says ‘The Lord will perfect that which concerns me’ and it concerns a lot of people, as we love our animals just like we do every other member of the family. 🙂

  6. The ancient Egyptians had the right idea – they recognised dogs as spiritual beings, associated with the god Anubis who helped souls cross to the afterlife. I think our dogs help and heal us in all sorts of subliminal ways. Just like us, their spirits are evolving and they return to Earth again and again for that purpose.

  7. I surly think that animals have soul like humans….that’s why when we feel sad or tired, our dogs look worried of us.
    They can read our mind….they are much more sensitive than humans….especially dogs.
    Of course, there is a heaven for dogs and cats. I believe my dogs have gone to heaven.

  8. This is an interesting post I definitely reject the thoughts of Descartes and I am as close to my dogs as I am to any human, indeed closer. To me my husband, my dogs, and my cats are my family. However, I am, unlike most pet owners I see blogging, not a religious person. I am not an atheist but more of an agnostic. I feel that what happens after death is a mystery, a mystery that cannot be solved. I am not sure that anyone is going anywhere, nor am I sure that they are not. I think my religious philisophy is best summed up in the Iris DeMent song Let the Mystery Be if you have ever heard it. So far that reason I dont feel certain that my dogs go anywhere after death, nor do I feel certain that people do. This really does not depress me its just a mystery I accept.

    I sometimes feel a little uncomfortable with all the talk of the rainbow bridge, though I am glad it comforts others. It makes me uncomfortable for several reasons 1) I dont like the idea of the dogs having to wait for the owners, why cnat they go on to heaven and just meet them there 2) Im not sure that anyone is going anywhere 3)I don;t think its a very well written poem, all apologies to those who love it.

    I sometimes feel with all the rainbow bridge discussion that there is no room for agnostic or atheist pet owners to talk about their pet’s deaths.
    Retro Rover

    1. Thanks for speaking up. Actually, I think a lot like you do. While it’s nice to think there will be something better around the bend, I’m not sure that’s the case. What I do know is cats and dogs live on in my memory. Most humans do not.

  9. I am no theologian but since God created the earth and really does care about people and animals( its people that may not care about other people or care about animals, as in meanness and abuse) I think there will be a place for them among the beauty and peace of that heavenly place. After all he cares about the birds enough to provide seed for them. We can read and interpret with our minds on how we view heaven but I don’t think we can truly grasp how awesome it will be.

  10. I’ll join Retro Rover as an agnostic dog blogger. I don’t believe I’m going to heaven so why would I think my dog is?

    I don’t find that a sad notion. Instead, it makes me more committed to giving Honey the best life possible while she’s here. And trying to live my best life as well.

  11. I’m currently studying a postgrad Anthrozoology degree and we ask a lot of these questions. It’s very interesting, and Descartes has a LOT to answer for!

    1. I don’t either. Of course, physics tell us that time is not linear, and that all moments in time are actually happening simultaneously, so maybe the wait isn’t really a wait after all.

  12. I have always believed that animals have souls and go to heaven. I also feel that sometimes their spirits visit us to help out. One of my cats who died many years ago shows up in my dreams, and I see reminders of him, and think sometimes that he’s trying to give me messages.

  13. I recently began reading a book by the author Jon Katz, who is fairly well known for his many books on dogs and other animals. After reading a paragraph in which the author stated that he did not believe that dogs had feelings or a soul, I put the book down and didn’t pick it back up again. It disgusted me. It is very clear to me that animals have both feelings and souls, and I couldn’t believe that a man so well-known for his love of animals could believe such a thing!

  14. Humans are part of the animal kingdom so if we have souls so do they. I’m not sure what I believe happens after death but if something happens I expect to see lots of animals!

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