I don’t know about you but as a dog lover I find it really, really, really, really hard to watch Dog Movies! A Dog’s Purpose came out last month and I still haven’t seen it, I just can’t. I also have 9 Reasons Why I Cried Reading A Dog’s Purpose!!!!
I’ve asked my customers whether they have seen A Dog’s Purpose and they give me this look, shake their heads and say, ‘I don’t think I can do it!!!’
I totally get it because I feel the same way. I can watch horror movies and not be bothered but as soon as someone mentions a dog movie I hesitate. That is my horror!
So I know, if I watch A Dog’s Purpose it will have to be at home. I tear up just from watching the trailer so I can guarantee you I’m going to be bawling throughout the movie.
Anyone who knows what I’m talking about will know that silent ugly crying in the movies is not fun. I know this because it happens to me when I stupidly decide to go and see these kinds of movies.
The most recent dog movie I watched, at home, was Hachi and yes it too became a bawling fest. Even after the movie finished I was still blubbering about Hachi’s loyalty, how it was based on a true story and how they have a statue of him at the station!!!!
Marley and Me, I read that book! I remember my friend came over, just as I finished it, and she took one look at me and said, ‘I knew you had the flu but I didn’t know you were that sick?’
I held the book up to her because I couldn’t talk through the tears and she shook her head at me and said, ‘Of all the people to read this book why did YOU go there’? I just shrugged. I have seen Marley and Me (at home) and there was serious ugly crying!
War Horse nearly killed me! It was a brilliant movie but really tough going for an animal lover.
Don’t get me wrong these books and movies are great but as a dog lover it takes a lot out of you, it really does!!!!
So I have decided to READ A Dog’s Purpose instead! After all, I do love reading and am a big book nerd!
Okay so I cried 9 times!!! It took me a week and a half to read because I had to put it down after a cry and gather myself together before picking it up again!!!!!
Reading the book you experience everything through this one dog’s encounters, I guess you could say he’s a soul that keeps coming back as different dogs until his Life Purpose is served. Each life experience teaches him something more, and each time he is reborn he remembers his past lives which enhances his current life experience, if that makes sense?
I found 9 scenarios in A Dog’s Purpose that really tug at the heart strings because dogs all over the world experience them everyday at the hands of humans. I really hope the Karma Bus gets them!
We first learn that this dog is a stray with his mother and three other siblings, 2 boys and a girl. We experience the play and interactions between the siblings and their mother, through this dog’s puppy eyes. The mother feeds them herself and then weens them off and teaches her kids how to scavenge for food. The mother also shows signs of being very afraid of humans, so one can assume she’s been previously mistreated.
Tears (1) started here, in chapter 1.
The mother, the main dog and his other brother manage to get captured. His other brother dies (yes tears(2) came) and the sister manages to run away. The people who capture them appear to be nice people, and the place they are taken to, the dog (who becomes Toby), refers to it as The Yard. All three are fed and taken care of, however it becomes obvious it’s over crowded.
There are many, many dogs at The Yard, Toby seems to fit in fine, and Fast (his stray brother) soon learns he’s not top dog here but he handles himself. However the Mother is unhappy and frets. One day Toby sees his mum manage to open the gate and run out and away from The Yard. Toby senses he’ll not see her again (Tears 3) and knows this is what she needs to do, so he doesn’t follow her.
Toby’s life is fine until a dog, Spike, that’s come from a fighting ring enters The Yard. Eventually, after a lot of vying for top dog, we learn that a fight breaks out between Spike and Toby’s brother Fast. Toby tries to help his brother but ends up getting badly bitten on the leg by Spike. I really felt for Spike here because he is doing the only thing he has been taught all his life, to fight!
Yes I cried (4) for Spike and for Toby and every other dog that is in this scene whether they are the fighters or the bait dogs, it’s horrifying!!!!
Authorities soon turn up at The Yard and all the dogs are confiscated. Spike tries to bite one of them and they see Toby is injured and it’s decided neither will be any good to anyone so both end up in the ‘ROOM’.
Through Toby’s eyes we see Spike being put down and then we experience the sensation of the needle going into Toby and he is soon dead without ever understanding what he did wrong!!!
Yes tears (5) flooded and I had to put the book down and walk away. As I sat with Billy by my side I cried for all the dogs throughout the world that are put down every single day!!!!! It is not their fault, it’s at the hands of incompetent humans that this happens to them!!!
As I resumed reading the next day, I learned that Toby is reborn in what is described as a Puppy Mill set up. Lots of mothers are behind fences and in crates with puppies everywhere. Food is thrown on the floor and conditions are not great.
Thankfully, he soon escapes this situation, remembering how his previous mother opened the gate to The Yard, he does the same and leaves this life behind him.
This scenario also brought tears (6) because, again, it’s happening to dogs all over the world at the hands of humans!!!
A man then picks him up on the side of the road and leaves him in a hot car while he goes in for a drink at the pub!!! The pup soon starts to dehydrate and isn’t long for this world when a mum and son break the window and rescue him.
Another incompetent human and again another scenario that still happens today, this caused anger in me.
The dog becomes Bailey and we learn that the boy is Ethan. Here we get to experience his life with Ethan and the special bond that is created between them. Bailey is with a loving family and really learns what life as a dog should be like.
He is loved, he sleeps on Ethan’s bed, he goes on car rides and is taken to the grandparent’s farm, he really has a dog’s life.
At his grandparent’s farm Ethan plays a game with Bailey where Ethan jumps in the pond and Bailey has to save him, this skill becomes useful for him in another life.
Their bond is unbreakable, Bailey goes everywhere with Ethan. We follow their ups and downs from boy to young man (pup to older dog) to first loves (Hannah), fires, injuries, heartbreak, parents divorce, together they conquer it all.
Of course the inevitable happens and Bailey becomes an old dog living on the farm with the grandparents while Ethan is away at college, when Bailey becomes sick.
Through Bailey’s eyes he describes the pain he is feeling throughout his body, how he doesn’t feel like eating and how he knows he is dying. Enter tears (6)……..!!!
Bailey’s words about Ethan (even though he’s not there yet) as he’s dying are, ‘ My purpose my whole life, had been to love him and be with him to make him happy…’
Tears are now streaming down my face as I try and keep reading.
Eventually Ethan makes it just in time as the needle to put Bailey to sleep is given and he drifts away.
I was sobbing, absolutely sobbing for every dog that is loved who has been put to sleep. All the dogs that have been in my life and all the dogs that have crossed my groom table, I cried for them all. For all the ones that have no one to cry for them, I cried for all of them too.
I’ll admit it took me a couple of days before I could pick up the book and read on!
Soon enough he is a puppy again and confused as to why he’s reborn because he thought he’d lived his life purpose!!!
This time he is a girl and his name is Ellie and he becomes a Search and Rescue dog.
His first owner who trains him and works with him is Jakob, a broken lonely man whose wife has died and who seems to have lost his purpose of life altogether. They proudly save many lives together until Jakob is shot and goes into retirement.
Then along comes Ellie’s next trainer Maya who has to overcome her own fears and lack of confidence on the job. Together they also save many lives until Ellie gets badly burned on her nose and can no longer sense smell. They then go around schools and do talks on the kind of work they use to do. Ellie and Maya are together through Maya’s life experiences as well and their bond is strong though not as strong as Bailey’s and Ethan’s.
We do revisit Jakob who is now remarried with children and seems to have life purpose again.
We soon learn through Ellie’s eyes how the pain of old age starts to set in.
Ellie manages to rescue a kid from one of the school’s they are talking at, one last time, and ends up going down a storm water drain and gets pretty beaten around.
Eventually Maya and her husband take Ellie for ‘the needle’, they are sobbing and so am I just reading about it ( 7).
Ellie remembers her other lives and again knows she’s been a good dog and says, ‘…everything that I had done, everything that I had ever learned had been leading up to being a good dog who saved people’.
To my surprise (and to Toby’s, Bailey’s and Ellie’s), he is reborn again, this time to a breeder who sells him to a guy because he is the last one left and doesn’t appear to be good enough for breeding with!!!
His name is now Bear and he is given to Wendi by her boyfriend. It’s soon obvious that Wendi doesn’t have the attention span, the space or time for Bear. She loves him but it’s evident, through Bear’s eyes, she’s not a great owner, she forgets to feed him, she shouldn’t have him in her apartment and soon gets an eviction notice.
Soon Bear is shipped off to Wendi’s mum’s house, and in Bear’s words ‘…if I was such a good dog, why was I being abandoned by my owner’?
OUCH! Enter tears (8)!!!
Wendi’s mum Lisa lives with a drunken abusive man, Victor, and neither one of them care for him. Bear, is neglected left outside on a chain all day hardly ever fed with not much water. A neighbor takes pity on Bear and reports Lisa and Victor to the authorities.
Victor gets angry, puts Bear and a gun in the boot of his car and drives him far away with the intention of shooting him. Thankfully he doesn’t shoot Bear but he does just dump him in the middle of nowhere and drives off!!!!
I was angry so angry reading this!!
Being on the street once again Bear remembers what his first mum taught him about scavenging for food to survive.
After a good few months on the street he comes upon a Dog Park and immediately smells Hannah smells (Ethan’s first love) on one of the people in there.
Long story short, this time he is renamed Buddy and he finds Ethan again. It’s been while so Ethan is now a 50 year old man.
The heart melts because Buddy recognizes Ethan’s smell but Ethan obviously doesn’t recognize him as Bailey because he looks different and couldn’t possibly be the same dog!!!!
Ethan has become a sad and lonely man, as Jakob was, and by having Buddy in his life it changes for the better.
Older Hannah (now a widower) and Ethan are reunited through Hannah’s daughter and are soon married and living on Ethan’s grandparent’s farm.
Ethan is now a happy man with a fulfilled life thanks to Buddy, Hannah, her children and grandchildren.
From the words of Buddy, ‘…I understood it now, why I had lived so many times. I had to learn a lot of important skills and lessons, so that when the time came I could rescue Ethan, not from the pond but from the sinking despair of his own life’. The job of a good dog was ultimately to be with them, remaining by their sides no matter what course their lives might take’.
Older Ethan is home alone one day and suffers a heart attack and is dying. This time the tables are turned and Ethan the human dies as Buddy the dog is there to comfort him. In his delirium Ethan calls Buddy Bailey and remembers him as Bailey, Bailey, Bailey!!!
Bailey says this as he lays with dying Ethan, ‘…As for me: I loyally remained right where I was, remembering the very first time I had ever seen the boy and then just now, the very last time…’, …at that moment I felt peace, secure in the knowledge that by living my life the way I had, everything had come down to this moment. I had fulfilled my purpose!’
OMG did the tears (9) flow then and loud ugly crying started!!! I sat on the floor with Billy and wondered if by any chance he was a reincarnation of one of the other dogs that had previously been part of my life?
I wondered what Billy thought of me, what he thought of the life I have given him, was he happy, is that what Henry’s, Isabel’s and Billy’s purpose was or whether I was the purpose of their lives?????
I contemplated a lot from W. Bruce Cameron’s book A Dog’s Purpose and wondered most of all how close he’d come to getting it right regarding a dog’s purpose. I wonder whether every dog really does happen for a reason or whether we happen to them for a reason or both???
I wonder about the mistreated dogs and what that lifespan experience means to them? It does give me small hope in the possibility of those dogs coming back for another much happier loving life with a family that loves them!!!!
I was at the book store yesterday and saw in the Young Reader section Bailey’s Story!!!! So obviously it is just Bailey and Ethan’s story without the rest.
As the thoughts run rampart around my mind, the one thing I do know for sure is that my heart is truly covered with paw prints and I wouldn’t have it any other way!!!!
I would love to hear your views on the book and whether you have been braver than me and seen the movie. What was it like?
J & B
PS: I will let you know when I get the courage to see the movie.