Touching and amusing in equal measure, W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose examines the love shared by canines and their people from the canine’s point of view. Cameron’s puppy protagonist takes readers on a journey through his life—or rather, lives, because this very special dog lives and dies several times, searching always for his life’s purpose.

Starting off as a pup in a stray’s litter, the young dog has his first interaction with humans in a dog hoarder’s yard. There he learns to love people, but after Animal Control arrives, he suffers the sad fate of dogs deemed “unadoptable.” After being euthanized, he awakes in a new litter with a new life ahead of him, becoming Bailey, the beloved pet of eight-year-old Ethan. Embarking on the most pivotal period of his existence, he learns the satisfaction of being a “good dog” and experiences the most pure, joyful relationship he will have with a human. Bailey not only adores Ethan, he risks his life to protect him, and after years of devotion to his boy, he is sure he has fulfilled his purpose. But when he awakes again in a new—female—canine body, she finds that her journey is not yet finished, and she has more to learn than she realized.

Cameron’s exploration of the world through the eyes of a dog is clever in its humorous touches—Bailey’s conclusions that cats cannot be trusted and horses are completely unreliable are hilarious—and poignant in its depiction of a dog’s innate desire to please humans. The novel is bound to make readers reflect fondly on pets from their pasts, but the book’s greater triumph may lie in changing the way readers think about their current pets.

Having read Cameron’s wonderful book, I’m seeing my little Chloe (a ferret) in the more pure, equal way I looked at animals when I was a child, rather than in the detached fashion that I’m sad to realize has become my habit as an adult. What a gift. A Dog’s Purpose is a beautiful celebration of our four-footed friends’ big hearts.

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Watch the book trailer for A Dog's Purpose.

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