A Closer Look into A Dog’s Purpose

Allie Nichols, Copy Editor

Let’s talk about A Dog’s Purpose, both the book written by W. Bruce Cameron and the movie directed by Lasse Hallström. Cameron wrote a heartwarming story about a boy, Ethan, and his dog, Bailey. The book was published in 2010, and the movie came to the big screen in 2017. Ethan is portrayed by Bryce Gheisar (young), KJ Apa (teen), and Dennis Quaid (adult). The movie also stars Britt Robertson as teen Hanna, Peggy Lipton as adult Hanna, and Josh Gad as the witty conscious of Bailey. 

“One day it occurred to me that the warm, squeaky, smelly things squirming around next to me were my brothers and sister. I was very disappointed.” Cameron’s opening lines for A Dog’s Purpose make the reader laugh just a little. Bailey is introduced as a feral dog but is, unfortunately, put down. He wakes up again, and suddenly he’s a puppy again. 

The little retriever ran away from his puppy mill and was found by two men. They planned to sell him later, so they left him in their truck, A woman later found him overheating in the truck. She introduces him to her eight-year-old son; It was love at first sight.

Ethan names him Bailey, and they become inseparable. Later, Ethan meets his dream girl, Hanna, while spending his summer out in the country at his grandparents’ house. Ethan and Bailey grow older, and Bailey dies while Ethan is in college. Bailey might have started the narrative as a golden retriever, but he goes through multiple reincarnations as he finds his way back to his boy Ethan– whom Bailey believes is “his purpose.” Bailey becomes a german shepherd named Ellie, then a black dog named Bear, and his final reincarnation– at least in this book– is becoming a St. Bernard mix named Buddy. 

The movie takes a few liberties on this story. Some scenes depicted in the book do not appear on the screen version. Some examples are Bailey meeting Ethan’s childhood friends, Ethan training Bailey, Ethan meeting Hanna during his youth, and then a few of the reincarnations are changed or added. The movie did, however, include a few funny moments between the dog and his family. The movie still captures all of the love and all of the laughs in Cameron’s beautiful tale of man’s best friend.

A Dog’s Purpose is the first book in the duo that Cameron wrote. The sequel to this adorable story is an equally touching story called A Dog’s Journey. We continue to see things from Bailey’s point of view. This time, Bailey has found a new purpose– Clarity June or, as she’s later called, C.J. Bailey watches C.J. grow up with a very difficult home life and is there to comfort her every step of the way, but that’s for another time.