Heaven and Hell (and Dogs): A Story and Debate

[Regular readers know that I try to post something humorous on Saturdays.  First, a thoughtful story. Then, an amusing and apocryphal debate that raises a good question.]

A man, his horse and his dog were traveling down a road. When they were passing by a gigantic tree, a bolt of lightning struck and they all fell dead on the spot.  But the man did not realize that he had already left this world, so he went on walking with his two animals; sometimes the dead take time to understand their new condition.

The journey was very long, uphill, the sun was strong and they were covered in sweat and very thirsty. They were desperately in need of water. At a bend in the road they spotted a magnificent gateway, all in marble, which led to a square paved with blocks of gold and with a fountain in the center that spouted forth crystalline water.

The traveler went up to the man guarding the gate.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning,” answered the man.

“What is this beautiful place?”

“This is heaven.”

“How good to have reached heaven, we’re ever so thirsty.”

“You can come in and drink all you want.”

And the guard pointed to the fountain.

“My horse and my dog are thirsty too.”

“So sorry, but animals aren’t allowed in here.”

The man was very disappointed because his thirst was great, but he could not drink alone; he thanked the man and went on his way. After traveling a lot, they arrived exhausted at a farm whose entrance was marked with an old doorway that opened onto a tree-lined dirt road.

A man was lying down in the shadow of one of the trees, his head covered with a hat, perhaps asleep.

“Good morning,” said the traveler.

The man nodded his head.

“We are very thirsty – me, my horse and my dog.”

“There is a spring over in those stones,” said the man, pointing to the spot. “Drink as much as you like.”

The man, the horse and the dog went to the spring and quenched their thirst. Then the traveler went back to thank the man.

“By the way, what’s this place called?”


“Heaven? But the guard at the marble gate back there said that was heaven!”

“That’s not heaven, that’s hell.”

The traveler was puzzled.

“You’ve got to stop this! All this false information must cause enormous confusion!”

The man smiled:

“Not at all. As a matter of fact they do us a great favor. Because over there stay all those who are even capable of abandoning their best friends…”

Link to Source

Theological Debate: Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

What do you think? Do dogs and cats and other pets go to heaven. Why or why not?


About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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7 Responses to Heaven and Hell (and Dogs): A Story and Debate

  1. artjen1971 says:

    I love it!–the part about God loving his whole creation!

  2. Teresa Hamilton says:

    I howled when I read this!! Get it? Thanks for sharing it and I am passing it on. Teresa

  3. Anne Comeaux says:

    Geeeze! I like dogs….and cats and even rocks. But trying to get to heaven myself takes so much energy I don’t have time to worry about dogs. Still enjoyed the story.

  4. My sister is convinced pets go to heaven, despite all my arguing to the contrary. “They don’t have souls, Joanie,” I’ve told her more than once. “Dogs and cats are just animals. We enjoy their company when we’re alive and then we go on without them, hopefully to an eventual Heaven.”

    But my sister, like most of us Buttacis, is quite stubborn. “They have spirits and not souls,” she says again. “They get a free pass because they don’t have free will to sin or not sin. All they know is to want to be close to the ones who care for them. Doesn’t God want us to be totally happy in Heaven? He lets us meet up with our loved ones and our pets.”

    Then I think I have the answer to change her mind. “Joanie, if pets go to Heaven, does that mean all the pets we’ve ever had or just those special ones?”

    Joanie smiles and answers with a question. “Heaven is the new Garden of Eden, right?” I nod. “And weren’t there animals of all kinds in that garden?” I nod again. “Well, what would Heaven be without the sounds of those animals cooing and barking and purring away for all eternity?” I thought about that for a minute. The babel of animal sounds forever?

    We each walked away more convinced than ever about pets going or not going to Heaven.


  5. Denise says:

    I believe animals go to heaven. I have seen and heard of too many dying persons who were reunited with their loving pet. Just 5 years ago, my brother and I were asleep in the bunk beds near our mother’s hospital bed in her temporary home in Jennings, LA. We were awakened as our bed-ridden mother lept from her bed to jump on her beloved horse. It happened just a few nights before she passed. She was not on any meds, or morphine. She excitedly told us that “Papa, Gribb, and my horse are all here!” When we got her back in the bed, Patrick asked her, “Where were you going Mama?” She said, “They were coming to get me! They were all here! I was jumping on my horse?” She was so excited to see them all, but pure joy and delight was seen in her eyes, and heard in her exclamations about her horse. She was so surprised and excited to see him.” The only conclusion that I can make is that her pet horse was in heaven, and if her horse was in heaven, then it follows that all of our pet dogs, and cats are too.

  6. I hope there are no animals in Heaven. I’d hate to come face to face with the Sunday roast telling me off for what I had done to it!

    Gd bless.

  7. Becca says:

    Animals have souls. Even plants have souls. That’s Catholic theology. But, the difference is, their souls are not immortal like ours. There’s going to be a new heaven and a new earth though after the Final Judgment. So, there’s probably going to be animals and plants and all kinds of things on the new Earth like in Eden. If you have a favorite pet, I don’t see why God wouldn’t put that put on the New Earth.

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