Book Review: A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

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A Dog’s Purpose is narrated by a Good Dog who is trying to figure out the meaning of his multiple reincarnations. It’s heartfelt and sweet, and will make you laugh and maybe cry, especially if you’re a dog lover.

I read A Dog’s Purpose as part of the 2022 Thoughtful Reading Challenge. July’s challenge was to read a book that has a dog as the main character since July is in the middle of the “dog days of summer.”

The book begins with “Toby’s” first moment of awareness – he’s struggling with his puppy siblings to get in the best position to nurse from his mother, a feral dog who lives in the wild. This scene is repeated three more times, although Toby comes back as different breeds, genders, and in different situations.

Each time he is reincarnated, he remembers the previous lives and the lessons he learned in them. In each life he wonders what his purpose is (this is a philosophical dog), and his understanding of that purpose grows over time. But by the fourth life, he’s frustrated and a little bitter because he feels like he’s fulfilled his purpose and there’s nothing left to do.

The author pulled off the canine narration brilliantly. Throughout the book, the dog expresses amusing disdain for cats, horses, ducks, squirrels, and other dogs, while also conveying complete adoration for many of the humans in his life, especially “the boy.”


Who’s a good girl? One of the dog’s lives was as a heroic German Shepherd named Ellie.

The author also, through the dog, good-naturedly pokes fun at dog behaviors such as marking everything, trying to get in the middle of everything, and being humiliated by the cone of shame. And when the dog is the ring bearer at two weddings, he thinks the attendees’ reaction to the bride and groom is all about him, saying, “everyone laughed and applauded at me.”

Do you have to be a dog lover to enjoy A Dog’s Purpose? Definitely not. I’ve only ever had cats and I loved the book. It’s cute and funny, and a special tribute to the nobility and quirkiness of man’s best friend. I think anyone with a heart would like A Dog’s Purpose.

Warning: Dogs and people die in this book, earning it two tears on the Cryometer.

How about you? Did you read a doggy book this month? Tell us all about it.

** Reminder – August’s challenge is to let a friend choose what book you read. Hmm

6 thoughts on “Book Review: A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

  1. You captured the essence of the book perfectly! I am usually quite amused in real life at how people “humanize” their pets, especially dogs. All you have to do is stop at a pet store or listen to or watch a commercial to understand how this humanization is perpetuated. Nonetheless, as a lifelong dog owner (Golden Retrievers for the past 30 years), it is so amazing how dogs become such a part of your life and family. Most importantly, it is really fun to see how much joy they can bring to so many people. Take a dog to an elderly care home and watch the faces light up and smile.
    This book was really fun to read. I laughed a lot at the silliness of the various dog characters and particularly as you pointed out, at the contempt the dog had for other animals, especially cats. Funny stuff! And the author captured many dog traits perfectly – if you’ve had a dog before you’ve probably seen it do some of the funny things the authors describes. All in all, a really enjoyable and easy summer read. No harshness, no political commentary, just a book that makes you laugh, cry, and feel good at the end. Good pick!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved the movie based on the book and, yes, it made us dog-lovers cry! I read “Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog” by Ted Kerasote because it had great reviews and it involved the life story of a dog with a lot of freedom in the countryside. The author did much research in studies about dogs and made Merle’s story educational as well as entertaining. The last chapters had me crying as Merle reached his last year of life. Heartbreaking for the author and the reader. I highly recommend the book to anyone curious about the thoughts and actions of dogs and who is understanding of the strong relationship one can have with “man’s best friend.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read “A Dog’s Purpose” as well. I have to admit that I was skeptical about the whole reincarnation thing but it worked well in this story. As a dog owner, I enjoyed all the iterations of the dog and especially the relationship he had with the boy. In general, dogs often exhibit unconditional love. Just watching how excited our dog gets when our youngest daughter is around is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face! Great summer read!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for making it easier to comment, Michelle. I’ve often wanted to share a thought or reaction and it was too much of a hassle to do so. I love your blog! I look forward to reading it. You are an excellent reviewer and an excellent writer. Thanks! Cynthia


    Liked by 1 person

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