A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron REVIEW

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.

This book was never something I’d choose off the shelf and something I might have even stopped reading after the first few chapters had I picked it myself, but that’s why I enjoy book club. We are assigned books that break everyone out of their comfort zones and in the end they make the discussions more interesting and get us to think outside the box. I’m going into these discussions today a blank canvas because I have never experienced another book like this one. I’m a sucker for pained animals and when I see one in a movie being hurt, I will usually just leave. There is enough real-life sadness in the world therefore I usually choose feel good books and movies to escape life for a bit. This book brings you through so many lows before you finally see the rainbow that it’s almost too much to bear. A warning to the weak of heart is that you experience a lot of death in this book. There was a point in the book where everything new this little puppy was introduced to I thought would be his next demise. After I accepted that death was inevitable in this book, I focused more on his lives. This little puppy who resurrected multiple times throughout the book had many adventures, took on several names, and even switched genders during one life. The author had the perfect setting for approaching the many different controversies with dogs without going into so much detail that you thought he was using his stage for a political agenda. The story touched on legal and non-legal pounds and rescues, unnecessary euthanizations, leaving a dog on a chain in the backyard 24/7, puppy mills, leaving a dog in a hot car, and many more. The reason these topics were perfect for this book was it didn’t become another animal rights advocate lecturing you about animal cruelty, but you were inside the mind of this dog while he was growing dizzy in the hot car and the mother at the puppy mill who was locked in a cage and her puppies who were taken away in the same motion a male was put in her cage again and mounted her. This book created a strong empathy towards dogs and made the reader feel a full range of emotions from happy to sad and sporadically angry for his situations. The reason you should read this book is because although it held a lot of sadness, it was eye opening. A few of the better lives of this puppy were inspiring. He became a rescue dog and helps us fight in the war, sniffed out missing children, and became a little boy’s best friend. In those lives, is what makes this story worth reading. This dog’s pride is infectious and these happy few lives are what make up the rainbow ending. The story comes full circle and creates a beautiful ending for this dog to finally find rest. I enjoyed comparing my dogs to the puppies many lives. I wondered which life cycle they might be in rather the more beginning, naïve first life or the last life that had the puppy born tired and wondering why he continued to be put on this earth and not given peace. My dogs are so lazy, I imagined them being in their last life cycle wondering why the heck they got stuck with me and what purpose they might serve sitting around and cuddling all day. I look forward to hearing many mixed reviews during my book club today and will include their thoughts below. I gave this four out of five stars for making me think and feel so passionately throughout.

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The census from my book club was three five star reviews, my four star review, while the remaining half dozen said they couldn’t make it past the first fifty pages because it was too sad. Although that might have something to do with the majority of ladies in my book club being seniors who are surrounded by death, but they barely wanted to talk about the book because it was too sensitive of a subject. ​ ​The subject of discussion became death and transposing the books theme of reincarnation into the groups’ individual lives. There were several stories exchanged of how widows and daughters could sense their husbands and fathers in spirit, once as a dragonfly, and another through a penny. We moved on to reincarnation of dogs to wonder which of our dogs have impacted us so much that we might find them again in another one of their life cycles.

Note: I'm still debating rather to see the movie or not. I was completely turned off after the controversy that was published during filming, but I do love to see the movies after reading the books to compare. I have heard that the publicized video of throwing a dog that didn't want to go into the water was explained and taken out of context, but my trust was shattered a bit and made me think if I should support animals being dragged to perform in movies. Have you seen this movie and was it worth it? I also know I will most definitely cry, so I'm wondering why I'd purposely sit down to cry.

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