Book Review: A Dog's Purpose 🐶🐶

in #review7 years ago (edited)

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Purpose is about a dog living through multiple lives and learning valuable lessons along the way. Each life helps to guide him towards his purpose in life. Written from a canine point of view, this story gives a new perspective to how dogs perceive their interactions with humans.

Beginning his life in the wild, Toby lives a short but happy life in the “Yard” with many other dogs. In this life, he learns to understand pack mentality and the concept of “Top Dog”. More importantly, he learns how to open gates by turning its handle, a skill that he uses throughout his next three lives.

As Bailey, a playful Golden Retriever, he is able to live out a long and fun life with his owner Ethan. Bailey's love for Ethan influences him to learn how to rescue people who are drowning.

Todd, Ethan's unsavory neighbor, also teaches Bailey how to save people by recognizing dark human emotions and acting on his instincts.

Unfortunately, despite Bailey's efforts, Todd manages to cripple Ethan physically and emotionally. The loss of Ethan's first girlfriend, Hannah, along with diminished mobility caused Ethan an inner pain that Bailey was not able to fix before dying peacefully of old age.

When returning to life as Ellie, a female German Shepard, we see our protagonist transform into a search and rescue police dog. Through various dangerous encounters, Ellie grows to appreciate her new abilities to save people, but she never forgets her love and affection for Ethan.

In this life Ellie experiences how important people can be to each other and that the need for love is something both dogs and humans crave in their lives.

Despite having two caring owners: 

  • Jakob, a widowed no nonsense cop with the patience and understanding to teach Ellie how to FIND people by scent and SHOW where they are 
  • Maya, a young woman out to prove herself as a member of the search and rescue team 

Ellie begins to yearn for her old life as Bailey...

In his final life as Bear, our hero was initially confused.

What was the purpose of this life? Why had he come back? Who was left to save?

These questions, coupled with a dismal set of new owners, made Bear think he was ready to give up.

Fortunately, Bear stumbled upon familiar territory and with just a sliver of hope, began to find his way home. After a long and trying journey Bear returned to the Farm, where he was finally able to reconnect with his boy!

When Bear and Ethan reunited, Ethan renames him Buddy. It does not take long before Buddy realizes that Ethan still carried the same inner sadness from before.

Buddy then realizes that this time he can save Ethan and does so by finding Hannah and reuniting the couple. Buddy truly brings happiness back into his boy's life.

As Ethan's life comes to a natural end, Buddy oversees his final hours; standing by as the faithful loving companion he was born to be.

What I liked:   👍  

  • The Dog POV!
    • Throughout the book the protagonist is sensing and reacting to the emotions of the humans around him. This was an interesting way to develop characters and help the reader understand the different actions that took place. 
    • I loved how Bailey would constantly compare himself to other animals. He seemed to have a bit of a superiority complex but I enjoyed his explanations for the way other animals were acting. It was especially cute when he admitted to liking Tinkerbelle, Maya’s cat, who treated Ellie like her mother. The visual was adorable!

What I didn't like:  👎 

  • The ending was way too easy! For the reader a much older (~75) Ethan and Hannah reunite for all of 5 seconds before they get married. A dinner and a bit of time passage is implied but we don’t get to read about it. 
  • I have so many unanswered questions:
    • What drove them away in the first place?
    • How did Ethan woo Hannah back after all these years?
    • Does he know how to cook?
  •   I was disappointed that the book left out these details.

Open Questions:  ❓❓  

  • What was Todd's deal?
    • Todd is introduced as Ethan's neighbor who slowly goes from best friend, to kind of odd, to full on psycho. There are even hints that he may have killed and/or buried his own dog, Marshmallow. 
    • I wish I had gotten a bit more closure on what happened to him. 
    • Did he go to Jail? For how long? Did he get un-crazy? etc.
  • What does the "flip" (an ineffective dog toy created by Ethan) really look like and what was the point of constantly referencing it?
    • Beyond its humble beginnings as a football, the "flip" quickly became difficult to imagine for me. However, its referenced throughout the entire book and I can't help but wonder: Why?? Please comment if you have an insight into its possible symbolism.


I really enjoyed this book! It was an easy and enjoyable read. While there were some sad parts (reading about the dog dying did not get easier) over all the book was light hearted. While clearly not based in fact, this book did make me wonder if dogs felt/thought similar to what was described.

I hope you enjoyed my summary and review! and as always.. 


a much older (~75) Ethan and Hannah reunite for all of 5 seconds before they get married.

Cut 'em some slack -- at that age, they don't have time to mess around!

I guess your right.. it is a little late in the game to be picky.. lol I just wanted some romantic build up!

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