Animals · contemporary · Fiction

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose?

Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh out loud funny, this book is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.


Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Animals

Pages: 319

Rating: 5/5 Stars

First Line(s): “One day it occurred to me that the warm, squeaky, smelly things squirming around next to me were my brothers and sister. I was disappointed.”

Sorry to break the normal structure, but I just had to include the second sentence because it was definitely what made me decide to start reading this one instead of the something else! It’s a mere preview of the laugh-out-loud lines from this book.

A Dog’s Purpose made me miss my own dog more intensely than I think I ever have (which may have been helped by the fact that I am in college and hadn’t touched a dog in three weeks when I started reading this). Still, there’s something to be said for a book that brings out visceral emotions and, boy, does this book summon emotions.

The story starts with Toby, a stray puppy who ends up in a place known only as “the Yard” where a woman and her friends take care of dozens of stray dogs. When Toby’s life ends, he finds himself reborn as a golden retriever named Bailey.

The majority of the book focuses on Bailey and his boy, Ethan. You will find yourself laughing out loud as Bailey discovers the perks (and drawbacks) of his new life, your heart will stop as Bailey faces unexpected dangers, and (because this is a dog book and we all know how those go) you will cry.

Or, at least, that’s all the things I experienced.

Bailey’s journey does not end with his life as Bailey. He continues, constantly wondering what exactly his purpose is if it was not to love his boy. Along his (and at one point, her) journey, I found myself wondering about my own dogs. What thoughts do they have about us humans? What can I do to make their lives as fulfilling as they can be, knowing that they are here for so much less time than I will be? And what if dogs do come back? What if the reason my dog is so easy, so sweet with kids, is because he already knows what to do? I don’t know. But I’m a sucker for books that make me wonder about my own life.

I have to point out that this is not a heavy book. It’s light and fun and focuses more on hope and love than anything sad, unlike some other dog books/movies I have read/watched. Not to mention the writing is so simple but thoughtful. You can tell that W. Bruce Cameron seriously considered how he wanted the dogs to think and how to prevent the book from reading like a children’s book about a silly dog.

Really, this book can be summed up pretty easily: it’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and it’ll make you want to hug your dog. The ending is bittersweet, but somehow perfect for the story. There is a sequel, which I’m sure I’ll read at some point, but not yet. I’m going to enjoy that perfect ending for a little while longer.


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