At the request of a reader, I am opening a thread on the theological and metaphysical question of whether dogs go to heaven.
It may surprise some readers to know that I am by no means closed to the idea that at least some dogs go to heaven. The truth is that I simply don't know. The greatest consideration that occurs to me against dogs' going to heaven is that heaven is not simply a place. It isn't just the happy hunting grounds to which God sends people He chooses to approve of. Rather, heaven is in its essence the beatific vision. And I doubt that dogs can, at least directly, enjoy the beatific vision.
C. S. Lewis, however, conjectured that animals might participate in the resurrection through their relationship with human beings. In fact, he went so far as to conjecture that whole places--such as one's childhood home--might be similarly resurrected by means of the resurrection of human beings. His idea was that God would in some sense give reality to the ideas and memories of those human beings who are glorified.
Lewis has influenced me by these conjectures to be open to the possibility that dogs go to heaven, but there is at least one problem: Lewis was a Berkeleyan idealist. So when he talks about these things, one has to bear in mind that Lewis did not believe in mind-independent physical matter at all. This helps to explain his notion that your dog or your childhood home might be resurrected with you. God would give to your ideas that order of reality that currently is possessed by God's own ideas, which we call "physical existence." It is also useful to Lewis in that he does not have to say that it is of the intrinsic nature of animals, as it is of man, to be immortal, which I also want to avoid. But if one isn't a Berkleyan idealist, the metaphysics of all of this becomes much more problematic. God would have to choose really to create physical entities corresponding to the resurrected body of one's dog or one's childhood home.
Not that that is impossible. But it does raise the question of why it should be a human being's own dog that is resurrected rather than any and all dogs, including vicious ones, feral ones, and so forth. Lewis can explain this because all that exists is ideas. Hence, your ideas are resurrected along with you, and one may conjecture that the resurrection takes the form of giving some of those ideas an existence independent of you, though never independent of God, the Great Perceiver.
Obviously, if dogs are included in eternal and redeemed nature, their own natures must be compatible with the eternal bliss of the redeemed, unless we imagine them as having no interaction with the redeemed, which would seem to remove at least part of the point of having animals in heaven at all. So vicious dogs would have to be reformed, which raises the mind-boggling question of whether dogs have free will or whether God would reform the nature of bad dogs by force, an operation He would certainly never carry out on human beings.
The bottom line is that I am open to the idea that dogs go to heaven but have worries about the possibility that the theology of such a conjecture will end up being a sort of caricature of the theology of salvation, a caricature we do not want to encourage, according to which God simply "sends" good dogs to heaven and annihilates bad dogs. Since I believe this theology is completely wrong with respect to humans, I am reluctant to invoke it for dogs. What would be preferable would be something like Lewis's view which accommodates in a more or less principled manner the resurrection of some dogs on the grounds of their relations to human beings without invoking any idea that some animals are "saved."
Have fun with the discussion. Keep it nice.