Do Dogs Go to Heaven? A Christian Perspective

Updated on February 24, 2016
The author's American Eskimo, Laika.
The author's American Eskimo, Laika. | Source

Is My Pet in Heaven?

I petted the white, silky fur of my American Eskimo for the last time. She lay peacefully - her body still warm although her heart had quit beating minutes earlier. The vet had listened for a heartbeat with his stethoscope but had found silence. The medicine he had injected had done its job, and my Laika was no longer in pain.

Her 15-year-old body was here with me, but where was she? Where was the essence of Laika?

Was she in heaven? Do dogs and other pets go to heaven? Is there really a "Rainbow Bridge?" Or do animals just cease to exist?

Dogs in Heaven? The Experts Speak

These questions have been asked by animal lovers for centuries, and even some heavy hitting theologians have weighed in on the issue. According to many of them, yes, animals probably DO go to heaven.

C.S. Lewis, a well known apologist for the Christian faith in the 1900s and author of the famous books "The Chronicles of Narnia," is known for his assertion that animals would get to heaven through the relationship of their owners with God. Therefore, a Christian's pets would be found in the new heaven because of their owner's faith.

Lewis wrote, "The theory I am suggesting...makes God the centre of the universe and man the subordinate centre of terrestrial nature: the beasts are not co-ordinate with man, but subordinate to him, and their destiny is through and through related to his. And the derivative immortality suggested for them is not a mere amende or compensation: It is part and parcel of the new heaven and new earth, organically related to the whole suffering process of the world's fall and redemption." ("The Problem of Pain" Chapter 9, 1940, p 145).

The Rev. Billy Graham, often called "America's Pastor," once said, "I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there (in Heaven), I believe he'll be there."

Martin Luther, the well known reformationist of the 16th century and the unwitting founder of the Lutheran denomination within Christendom, felt dogs go to heaven. Referring to his beloved dog Tolpel, he once said about dogs and other animals being in Heaven, "Certainly there will be, for Peter calls that day the time of the restitution of all things. Then, as clearly said elsewhere, he will create new Tolpels with skin of gold and hair of pearls. There and then God will be all in all. No animal will eat any other. Snakes and toads and other beasts which are poisonous on account of original sin will then be not only innocuous but even pleasing and nice to play with. Why is it that we cannot believe all things will happen as the Bible says, even in this article of resurrection? Original sin is at fault." (From Preserved Smith, "The Life and Letters of Martin Luther" London: John Murray, 1911, p. 362.)

But it's understood that even brilliant minds such as Lewis, Graham and Luther can be wrong, so what is the reasoning behind their belief that animals go to heaven?

If you look at the quotes above, you see a common theme. The Bible is specific that God will create a new heaven and a new earth at the end of our current earth. This newness will be a "restitution of all things," says Luther. With the understanding that God plans on restoring creation, these Biblical scholars agree that within that restoration will be the restoration of our beloved pets.

Restoration Is the Thing: Bible Verses Discussing Restoration of Creation

The Bible mentions this restoration of Creation all throughout.

Acts 3:19-21 "Repent then, and turn, to have your sins wiped out that a time may come when the Lord refreshes you and sends Jesus, Whom He appointed to be your Savior and Whom heaven had to receive until the time when everything will be restored, as God said long ago by His holy prophets." (ATT translation)

Revelation 21:1 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away, and there was no longer any sea." (NIV)

2 Peter 3:10-13 "But the day of the Lord will come like a theif, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are going to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt in intense heat! But according to His promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."

Laika with her first blue ribbon earned in obedience competition.
Laika with her first blue ribbon earned in obedience competition. | Source
Cats, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and other pets are all part of God's creation that will be restored in heaven.
Cats, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and other pets are all part of God's creation that will be restored in heaven. | Source

These are only a very few of the scriptures that describe the restoration of creation at the end of this world. Let's take a close look at Romans 8:18-22 which describes creation groaning for redemption.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (NIV)

We can see here in Romans 8 that even creation has been in bondage and decay because of human sin and is groaning for liberation that the final restoration will give. This passage shows that God is planning on restoring His creation, and animals are a part of that creation.

Hence, Lewis, Graham and Luther all believed that God would bring back to Himself in the restoration His creation, and our pets are part of that restoration.

Dr. Peter M. Kurowski said in his "Animals in Heaven, Pet's in Paradise" Bible study, "The rest of the world, however, stands on tiptoes stretching its collective being eagerly looking forward to the new Eden. Pets in paradise? Sure sounds like it, if we pay careful attention to God's subtle, but clear word. All creation, the creation, this created world, except for demons and unbelivers, is lining up for His love, and His Lordship, plus His promise through St. Paul should give us highest of hope."

So do dogs, cats, horses and other pets go to Heaven? While the Bible doesn't come straight out and say "yes," it does imply through its discussion of the redemption of God's creation that our pets will greet us in the new Heaven and new Earth.

As I watched the vet wrap Laika's now still body in her blanket and carry her out the door, I was heart broken. The pain of the loss was so strong, it was physical. Yet as I closed the door behind him,, tears streaming down my face, I knew that Laika was free - that she was young again, running in Heaven.

Will our reunion with our pets be exactly like the famous poem, "The Rainbow Bridge?" While the poem does mention restoration, it is doubtful a place exactly like "The Rainbow Bridge" exists, but knowing the loyalty and love of dogs, it is not hard to imagine a greeting similar to the poem.

Laika: That Dog Still Rocks

"The Rainbow Bridge"

"Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance.

His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together...."

-Author Unknown

The author's dogs, including the recently deceased American Eskimo, Laika.
The author's dogs, including the recently deceased American Eskimo, Laika. | Source

Questions & Answers

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    • profile image

      Kya~T 

      6 days ago

      Hello, I know It’s been a while since who have wrote this but i’d like to let you know that a few days ago my Sheltie passed away and every night I think about were has her soul gone. I love her with all my heart and even though as people on this world don’t fully know if a pet of anyones goes to heaven I think everyone should know that even if they don’t you should always remember the greatest times you’ve had with them and create new ones with with every pet you get. Right now things that are helping me get threw this my American Eskimo and my family and that’s a memory I will keep

    • profile image

      Mariana 

      6 months ago

      YES 100 % all dogs and cats animals go to Heaven,

    • profile image

      Jerry Schooler 

      10 months ago

      Yet another glorious reason to reach for Heaven and all that awaits us there . My hope is that not only our precious pets who we miss on earth so desperately,

      But all those animals who had no one to love or love them. Who lived in pain and suffering with no family, no gentle stroking, no release from pain, suffering and abject despair. Animals are the only creatures on earth who are totally free of sin. In my mind that makes them sacred . Sacred to us as humans and sacred to , I believe , their Creator. I am trusting that God 'a love for his creation extends beyond Humankind and envelops every work of his hand and mind!

      I believe in a blessed and eternal reunion with my departed (to heaven) animals whom I love so much as they do me.

      They taught me how to love! That's how important they have been to me .

      Looking ahead to that matchless day of joy!

    • profile image

      neil segars jr 

      17 months ago

      the way we love our pets is only a fraction of God's love for us.

      my opinion is yes our animals will be with us, God wants us happy and loves us. He knows the way we feel about our animals. God also gets the glory because the animals will be there who will we thank God of course the glory will be His.

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      18 months ago

      Thank you! It is something I hear my fellow dog competitors mention often. As one saying goes, "When I die, I want to go where my dog went." I am comforted to know such great minds as the ones mentioned in the article believed that dogs go to heaven. It will be a great reunion there.

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 

      18 months ago from USA

      Very interesting hub! I never really thought of this before!

    • profile image

      shawn mcavoy 

      23 months ago

      When my little girl Bichon frise passed we blessed her with holy water and said a passage praising God for all His creations. In the passage we said that God was the creator of all good things that brighten up the sky. We looked up at the sky and saw Anabelle in the clouds. Google" Anabelle in the clouds" for the full story.

    • profile image

      Luci Shaw 

      2 years ago

      I had this conversation at lunch with Dallas Willard and Madeleine L'Engle. Willard said that he believed that everything that added to our joy and love on earth would be part of heaven.

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 

      3 years ago from Michigan

      The Book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn tells us that our animals will be in heaven. I believe it and look forward to seeing many of my beloved dogs.

    • lhale profile image

      lhale 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      What a sweet comment! Thank you!

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      4 years ago

      Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm so sorry about losing your precious Maltese. My mom's favorite dog ever was a Maltese, and mom still misses her. They are wonderful little dogs. I'm so glad you'll be reunited in the "new heaven!!" You both were blessed to have had each other.

    • lhale profile image

      lhale 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      My beloved 14 year old Maltese died about 6 weeks ago, and I have really been grieving. Although I cried reading your hub, it was very encouraging and uplifting. I certainly believe in the Roman 8 statement that all creation will be restored, and I believe that includes the animals. (My Pastor does too, by the way!) I just needed to see it all stated so clearly, as your hub did, to help me at that time. Thank you for that!

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      4 years ago

      Thank you for dropping by epbooks. I'm counting on my dogs being in heaven. It would be boring there without dogs!!! :D

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Enjoyed this hub. Since I've lost many of my dogs throughout my life, I'd like to think that they go to heaven. :) I'd love to see them again one day! Thanks for writing this. Definitely makes one think about the topic!

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      I'm so glad my hub made you happy. :) We will have such happy reunions with our furred family when we get to heaven!!! Thanks for dropping by.

    • nArchuleta profile image

      Nadia Archuleta 

      5 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      You made me cry, but in a good way. I know I'll see my beloved pets who have gone before me. I also agree 100% with Lucky Cats. I pray those poor animals who never knew love get to know it in heaven. Thanks for the Hub -- I'm going to go look at kitten pictures to cheer myself back up!

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for dropping by Ron. :)

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      This is one of the imponderables of the Christian faith. There is a biblical case to be made against animals in heaven, but since Scripture doesn't definitively address the issue, there is no particular joy or necessity in making it. I like Billy Graham's reasoning: if having a beloved pet with us in heaven will contribute to our happiness, it will be there. Thanks for your hub.

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      You're welcome!!! Friskie will be very excited to see you. :) Thanks for dropping by.

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      agilitymatch, thank you for sharing this hub. I'm sorry you lost Laika but glad you were blessed with 15 years with her. The other dogs are so precious - cute and beautiful at the same time! The Rainbow Bridge brings slight tears to my eyes thinking of seeing my dog Friskie again.

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Paul,

      There are many more theologians, pastors and apologists who also believe dogs will be in Heaven. It's comforting to know I'm in good company!!! :) Thanks for dropping by.

    • hyunchang profile image

      hyunchang 

      5 years ago

      What an insightful hub! I had no idea people like C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and Billy Graham spoke about this issue. Thank you for sharing.

      Paul

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Thank you Rosie. I want to believe it too. :) I appreciate your vote!!

    • Rosie2010 profile image

      Rosie Rose 

      5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Hiya agilitymach, a very interesting and informative hub. I want to believe that Rainbow Bridge exists, where our beloved pets who passed are waiting for us. Voted up and definitely very informative. Cheers!

      I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

      Rosie

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Thank you alexadry! I believe you will see them again, and as great an owner as you have been, it will be a joyous reunion. :)

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      5 years ago from USA

      I really hope dogs go to doggy heaven, because I really plan on meeting them once again, voted up and awesome!

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Afriquet, thanks so much for dropping by!!! I appreciate your reading it. :)

    • afriqnet profile image

      Joe Njenga 

      5 years ago from Nairobi Kenya

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts about dogs and spirituality. I am not sure about if dogs will go to heaven but certainly Yes or No . It's a fifty fifty thing.

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Thanks xstatic!!! I appreciate the vote. :D

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Interesting ideas and way of looking at the subject. Up!

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Thank you Patty!!! Once again, I appreciate you dropping by, and I appreciate the vote up. :)

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 

      5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Very Interesting!!! I love reading theology regardless of religion!! This is definitely food for thought and well researched!!! I loved the pictures as well!!!

      Voted Up and Interesting!!!

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Thank Dr. Mark!! I love Christian theology, so I have given this some thought. I appreciate you sharing it!! The sofa photo is one of my absolute favorites. :)

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 

      5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Great article, it is obvious that you have thought about this subject a lot. I shared this on my twitter feed, voted up and interesting.

      It was nice to see a picture of your Shelties resting on the couch, not just competing! They still look very attentative.

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Oh, I'm not offended at all. :) I'm glad, too, that you find happiness in your pets and love them as you do. You all are blessed to have each other. :) Thanks for dropping by!!!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 

      5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi there agilitymach...yours is an excellent voice and you did a very good job of explaining your position...I did understand you and I agree 100%....my attempt was to add my voice to yours in an effort to underscore your words... the way I see it; we are definitely on the same page....I am sorry if it was misunderstood...it is obvious through your picture, your description of the last moments you and Laika shared and your last paragraph that you, of course, believe that we will meet our beloved animals again and that God's love extends to all beautiful, living beings. My mea culpa was that I hoped I hadn't stepped into your hub too much as I tried to offer an argument against some of the premises and figures you quoted. (I can get carried away on this subject as animals and our understanding of and appreciation for; are so important to me) I appreciate your writing and your comment, too. Thank you so much. It's good to know you care as you do and believe as you do...makes me happy.

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Thank you!! That's one of my favorite pictures too. They were so pleased with themselves and apparently had a really good time with that roll of paper towels!! Very much worth the price of the paper towels and the clean up. :)

    • agilitymach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristin Kaldahl 

      5 years ago

      Lucky Cats, you did not offend at all. I was not saying I believed what CS Lewis states - that an animals existence in heave is determined by its owners faith. I was only saying what CS Lewis believes.

      I personally believe that ALL creation - and I do mean all - will be bound back to God in the new Heaven and new Earth. That's my belief.

      However I wanted to cover different theological perspectives from those who believe animals will be in heaven in my hub. I didn't want it to be just my opinion, as this isn't exactly and op ed piece. :)

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 

      5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      hi Agilitymatch. You've posed an age old and very important question; one which all of us who love our companion animals, wonder about. I have no doubt that there will be a reunion after the physical body ends. How could there not be? Life as it exists in animals is not that much different than our own...with one exception: animals truly are innocent; they live according to natural dictates and they do not act out of malice. I have questions regarding whether the importance of life here on earth, no matter what form it takes; is dependent upon a human connection in order to be "awarded" life after death. I think (and hope) that the miracle that is embodied in life; independent, unique and individual, is worthy of more than the end being limited to physical life on earth.

      My relationship to my rescued aniamals; primarily cats but I do have dogs as well, shows me that they are very familiar, very sensitive, intuitive and do relate to us. Cats' emotional center in the brain is the most similar to humans of all animals...they are entirely intricate and intelligent, communicative animals.

      I mourn for those who suffer and who die alone; not ever knowing love or a kind, gentle touch. I do not believe that the homeless, abandoned dog or feral cat is no more deserving of a "better life" than the one who enjoyed a personal relationship w/a human.

      God's miracle is found in living, moving, sentient forms; whether they ever relate to a human being. There is no less intricacy and delicacy in the physical being of a lion than there is of a German Shepherd or Rag Doll cat...We are the ones who drew the division...this is my personal understanding.

      In short; if WE are given 'life ever after,' so are God's other creatures.

      I hold on to the hope and desire that I see all my beloved companion animals again...and I am glad that you believe we do...this is such a sweet expectation.

      Very compelling and thought provoking hub, agility; I hope I have not offended but, my HOPE is that all living, sentient beings in sea, earth and air, have the gift of a wondrous future.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 

      5 years ago from Alabama

      This is a wonderful thought. And I love the pictures of those "bad" dogs. Gotta love them.

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