Monday, January 10, 2011

A Dog's Purpose; W. Bruce Cameron


Title: A Dog's Purpose
Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Forge Books
Edition: Hardcover and Audio Book
Source: Library
Date Completed: 1/7/2011
Setting: Undisclosed (USA)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Recommend: Yes (print version); No (audio version read by George Wilson - terrible reader)


A Dog's Purpose is a sweet story with a favorite kind of narrator, a lovable canine.  In a nutshell, this story is about a dog who is reborn --several times. Each life is different from the one before, and in his canine voice, sometimes comical and sometimes profound, the dog shares how he interprets the actions of the people around him. All the time, through each of the dog's lives he is constantly searching for his true purpose in life.

In his first life, Toby was a mixed breed, stray that was taken in by a animal hoarder. However, when animal control authorities step in, Toby like many dogs in this situation, ends up being euthanized. He's reincarnated as a golden retriever. Fortunately, he learned a few things from his brief first life, and is saved. He is lucky to finally have a good home, and his human boy Ethan, age 8, names him Bailey. Bailey adores Ethan, and wants to be with him and protect him all the time. But boys grow up, leave home, and dogs pass on --sometimes without finding their true purpose in life.  In this dog's third life, he is a "she", named Ellie, who  works with an officer doing search and rescue for the police force.  In his last life, he was acquired by someone who did not have the dog's best interest in mind. Abandoned, he is on his own using skills acquired in previous lives, until he finds his way back to a person and place special to him and he is able to acknowledge that "I have fulfilled my purpose".   

Overall, I loved the messages that this book conveyed. It was funny at times, and heart-wrenching at others, as the book cover issues such as abandonment, euthanasia, and sickness.  It would be the perfect read for someone who has recently lost a beloved pet. For those dog owners, who often wonder what their dog is thinking, this book will give you plenty of reasons to smile.  As a cat-lover, I disliked the fact that the author took the position, when he gave his narrator a voice to say that "cats had no purpose that he can see", and that cats could not be trusted. Apparently, someone has never had the pleasure of being "owned" by a possessive lap cat, a constant,  low-maintenance, companion, that already knows its "purpose".  Despite that this book is very good.  If you like this type of novel, my two favorite books with dogs as narrators are:  I Thought You Were Dead; Peter Nelson (try the audio book it is fabulous), and The Art of Racing in the Rain; Garth Stein.

25 comments:

  1. Like doggy stories very much. This sounds heart warming.

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  2. I'm so glad you liked this book. This is now one of my all time favorite books. I laughed and cried and just could not put it down.

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  3. It does sound pretty woofie good!

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  4. Loving the cover!My dog is getting so old now though, not sure if this one would really suit me.

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  5. It's on my tbr list, Diane. I know a few people who would like it. Nice review.

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  6. I keep meaning to read this book and haven't yet so I truly enjoyed your review...(thanks for the warning about the part about the cats! Grrrr!!!!!)

    Hmmmm a dog having multiple lives? Sounds pretty "cat-like" to me...when do we EVER hear of dogs having multiple lives? Only cats!!

    I read "The Art Of Racing In The Rain"....tore me up...it was an excellent book.

    Will have to remind myself to get my "paws" on this one! GREAT REVIEW!

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  7. I like animal stories, but they are always so sad! I know this one deals with sad topics as well, but with the reincarnation aspect, maybe it doesn't seem that way. I might like to take a closer look at this book, so thanks for the perceptive and thoughtful review!

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  8. I received a copy for the holidays and am looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the review!

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  9. I just read this one, too, and ADORED it! I'm going to be reviewing it on my blog very soon. I love dog stories and this one was really good. I loved it!

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  10. I love animal stories! This sounds like a very heartwarming read. Great review!

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  11. Thanks for the heads up about the audio. I really dislike it when I get so excited to start listening to a book and find that it is barely tolerable.

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  12. I am definitely intrigued by this one and by your review! xo

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  13. This does sound very enjoyable. Terrific review!

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  14. I haven't read this one, but I'd like to read The Art of Racing in the Rain some day.

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  15. I keep meaning to read The Art of Racing In The Rain...tender animal stories always tear my heart out, though, beginning with The Yearling in grade school.

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  16. I have this one on my stack. Will keep my eyes out for the audio of I Thought You Were Dead. Loved Art of Racing in the Rain.

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  17. I read this book last year and really enjoyed it. Glad you liked it.

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  18. My dog would agree that cats can't be trusted. She was attacked by a neighbor cat when she was a puppy and she's been terrified of them ever since. Our cats rule the house. :)

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  19. I did read Art of Racing in the Rain and loved it. I will surely give this a try.

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  20. Our dog has had some serious health issues recently; we thought we might lose him, so I don't think now is the time for me to read this one, but I loved your review of it, and will keep it in mind for another time. Thanks Diane.

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  21. Our dog has had serious health issues recently; we were afraid we might lose him, so I don't think this is the right time for me to read this one. I loved your review, though, and will put it on the list for another time.
    Thanks Diane.

    Sorry if this posts twice; I wasn't sure if it took the first time.

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  22. All these dog books are driving me crazy but at least this one sounds more creative and fun.

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  23. I'm always wondering what my little doggie is thinking. Sometimes he looks at me like he is thinking something! Maybe this book will give me the answer? In any case it sounds like a fun read.

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  24. I'm going to look for this one, but I'll be sure to stay away from the audio!

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  25. I sold this one to quite a few kids during our Scholastic book sale..now I need to get a copy!

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