A Dog’s Purpose
W. Bruce Cameron
Read by George K. Wilson
Tantor Audio, 2010
Unabridged Audio Book
Also available as a Forge trade paperback
A puppy plays in the woods with his mom and his siblings but this is not an entirely idyllic scene. The puppy and his family are feral and the mother dog has taught her puppies to be afraid of humans but the worst happens—all but one are captured and taken to a shelter. This is a private shelter, though, not the pound, so there is hope for their future. And so begins the tale of a dog who lives through one existence after another, remembering his past each time.
There’s no such thing as an animal-centric novel that doesn’t make you cry as far as I know and this one is no exception. It’s a natural cry, though, meaning that the moments of sadness revolve around the dog’s deaths and that is tempered by the humor and joy that occur during each of the dog’s lives. Along this journey, the dog learns much in each life—discovering love, saving a boy’s life, working in search and rescue, having a great adventure—but always feels that something is missing, his true purpose in being a dog.
Told from the point of view of the dog, the reader/listener is treated to the full gamut of emotions from fear to joy to pure happiness and the narrator, George K. Wilson, does a nice job of making the dog’s “voice” seem natural. This is no cutesy tale with an animal who talks to humans but we hear his thoughts, including his very entertaining interpretations of what humans mean by certain words and gestures. This is a story that will engage any reader who appreciates dogs—just be prepared for those occasional two-tissue moments.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2011.