A Dog’s Purpose follows the fictional account of a special dog. This best-selling novel changed author Bruce Cameron’s life, earning him the reputation of “the dog book guy”. Dogs will die and tears will fall. However, dogs will also be born. As for those tears, they’ll flow from both sadness and happiness. A Dog’s Purpose is a creative and moving tribute to man’s best friend.
Let’s start with the fact that dogs will die and dogs will be born. A Dog’s Purpose tells the story of one dog who dies very early in the story but then starts his life all over again. This actually happens a few times. The first time our hero is born as a stray, another time in a puppy mill, a third time to a reputable breeder…. In the course of his many lives, our hero gets injured in a dog fight, is rescued from being left in an overheated car, is bought as a present for a girlfriend, and serves as a rescue dog. Each one of these scenarios allows for our hero to better define his purpose in life, while also providing readers with lots of adventure, heartache, and tenderness. I fully enjoyed coming home each night after work to immerse myself in this heart-warming dog tale.
One of the stories runs longer the rest, that of the boy Ethan who discovers Bailey as a puppy, and serves as the core of A Dog’s Purpose. The shared experiences between Ethan and Bailey probably most resemble those with which dog owners are familiar. Ethan learns how to house-train Bailey, confides in him when his parents start to struggle in their marriage, and even discovers the bliss of romance in the presence of Bailey. On his part, Bailey tries to figure out when newspapers are for bathroom purposes and when they are for humans to read. He also tries to determine why sometimes he gets left alone and other times gets to join Ethan. He even deciphers between which visitors to the home are good and which have more sinister motives, a skill that proves invaluable to Ethan. Bailey’s misinterpretations of human situations made me smile, as well as to ponder how my own dogs might view their lives with my husband and I.
What is most golden about A Dog’s Purpose is the theme. In older television shows such as Quantum Leap and Touched by an Angel, there’s always a reason for why Sam leaps into a certain person’s body and why Monica gets assigned to visit a certain troubled individual. Similarly, in A Dog’s Purpose, there’s always a reason for our hero to get reborn into a particular life. If Bailey hadn’t learned how to open a gate, he wouldn’t have met Ethan. If through Ethan he hadn’t learned to rescue from the pond, Bailey wouldn’t have become a rescue dog. As Cameron explores through fiction of the purpose of dogs, it should become clear how much we owe to our dogs. This should not only result in our love our own more, but should also make us more determined to value the lives of all dogs.
One might also begin to think about the purpose of humans on earth. Unlike Bailey, we journey through this life but once. Author Bruce Cameron said that when he finished writing A Dog’s Purpose, he felt as if had truly, and finally, accomplished something really important with his work. What are we accomplishing with our lives? Will we feel in the end, as Bailey did, that we have fulfilled our purpose?
Cameron has also said that when someone picks up one of his books they know that it will not be a depressing, dark, sad novel. If A Dog’s Purpose is an indication of the rest of Cameron’s work, I’d expect to any book with his name on it to be uplifting, insightful, bittersweet, and joyous.