A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
I was assigned to moderate our book club’s required reading for October (first time to moderate solo – yay!) and thought about a topic or genre that hasn’t been discussed before. I was contemplating on humor or pets but since I am fond of dogs, I chose the latter.
A Dog’s Purpose is a story about a dog who lived four lives and his continuous journey to find his purpose:
Toby, a mongrel born to a feral mother is taken from the wild and brought to the yard (kennel) where he is eventually euthanized.
Bailey, a golden retriever brought home to a boy named Ethan. Bailey becomes the family dog and Ethan’s bestfriend. It narrates a touching story of how Bailey bonded, loved, and grew up Ethan, thus asking himself what his purpose in life was.
Ellie, Bailey reincarnated as a female German shepherd is trained to be a search-and-rescue dog with Jakob, a police officer. Jakob gets shot during one of their rescues where he was injured and removed from duty. Ellie then is assigned to Maya and they continued to work together until Ellie retired as a police dog.
Buddy is a black labrador under the care of irresponsible owners. One of the owners gets tired of tending after a dog so he brings Buddy to a far off town and leaves him by the roadside. This is where Buddy realizes he knew the place and goes on to search for Ethan using the skills he acquired as Ellie. He eventually finds and reunites with Ethan and finally convinces himself that he has served his purpose.
I love dogs and I’m a sucker for touching stories so I would lie if I didn’t say that I cried while reading. It’s a light, heartwarming and easy read so do not expect a laureate-winning literature because it is not. I liked how the author has shown how he thinks our dogs think. I would like to believe that they are more emotional than intellectual – or maybe I’m just using our dog as basis for this. The writing style is far from perfect. There are instances that I feel tired of reading because the narrator was too much to handle.
What I liked most was how Cameron showed the reality of different environments a dog or a pet could live in and what types of owners they may end up with – family dog, working dog and kennel dog. There are different situations and environments that pets may be subjected to and these are what gives them character the most. Also, the part where the dogs in the yard were euthanized because they were deemed unfit for adoption broke my heart. It’s the sad reality and we can only do so much for the poor pooches.
If there is one thing I am critical about the novel is how Bailey is always reincarnated. I’m not too keen on the idea of reincarnation so this is just a personal opinion. So, will Buddy be reincarnated again when he dies? Is this the dog’s version of a cat’s nine lives? Maybe he’ll get to live five more lives. Hahaha.
I liked the novel because it’s touching. It pokes at the memories of your old pets’ lives. It actually got me thinking if we were able to give them the best dog life. Will I be reading the second book of the series? No, because I think one is enough. There is only so much you can do in the style/manner of writing in a dog’s perspective. I have a feeling that the second book would be similar to the first. Plus, if Buddy reincarnates again, I’ll already be pulling my hair out of frustration.