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“A Dogs Purpose: A Novel for Humans”

posted November 15th, 2011 by
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Book Review TulsaPets Magazine

By Suzanne Gunn

A lot of people shy away from so-called “Dog books” because they say, “The dog is just going to die in the end.” True, that usually does happen. That’s just the natural order of things, isn’t it? This book is no different; the dog does die, but with a twist! Almost as soon as he dies, he comes back! Then he dies again and again! We follow Toby, Bailey, Ellie and Buddy as he lives each new life with different circumstance, as he seeks to love and be loved, be a good dog, and find his purpose.

The story starts in the den of a feral female, nursing her puppies. Our hero, who tells his story, is one of her puppies. Unlike his mother and siblings, he shows more interest in humans and feels jealousy at seeing dogs riding in cars and trucks, yearning to someday be a “front seat dog.” We watch his life as a stray that is rescued by an unlicensed shelter wannabe to become part of a pack. All the while wondering what his purpose could be, he tries to stand out in the pack to garner the love and attention of the humans.

Book Review TulsaPets Magazine

He learns valuable lessons on how to be a dog, living in the pack. Unfortunately, his first life is too short, and as he dies he questions the meaning and purpose of his life. Surprised to wake up to discover he is a puppy again, along with a new mother and new siblings, he finds himself in a completely new environment, yet remembers all that went on before. No longer a stray, he is born a purebred Golden Retriever in a puppy mill with a whole new set of problems.

Bailey is a “good dog.” He talks about the trials and tribulations of being house broken from the puppy’s perspective. He can’t quite figure out what is the human fascination of watching a dog pee in the grass? He grew into a beloved pet, who loved his boy more than anything.
There were many ways Bailey helped and rescued his boy, the family.
After Bailey died, I was so sad and worried that I wouldn’t be able to care about, or like, the next dog in the story nearly as much. I fell in love with him, oops… I mean her, as soon as she was born. Imagine his surprise when he discovered he was no longer a he! Once again, she was a brand new dog, this time as a German Shepherd raised to be a working dog – again with all the memories of her previous incarnations.
In the last incarnation, we meet Buddy who, through all the lessons of his previous incarnations, learns what a dog’s true purpose really is.
I had to take a break more than once while reading the book. I had to recompose, wiping tears from laughing and then from crying. At one point while reading the book, I splashed my face, patted it dry and took a deep breath, looking down to see my dog standing close by to comfort me. She stayed close for awhile; it was perfect to have her with me while reading this book.

This book not only told the dog’s stories, but he told much of his humans’ stories from his perspective. The book does a wonderful job describing how wonderful and tough a dog’s life can be, from being a stray to living in a puppy mill and a shelter, to going to the vet, to protecting your human, to being praised, and how sad it is to be called, “bad dog!” Wonderfully funny and terribly sad at times, I found all my emotions were evoked by this dog’s multiple lives. I heartily recommend this to anyone who has ever loved a dog or wants to love a dog!

Book Review TulsaPets Magazine