If you have a dog at home, you know that they become much more than just a pet. Your dog becomes a part of your family, someone who you care about just as deeply as any person. Growing up with a pet is like going through life with your built in best friend always walking beside you. For all of the dog lovers, A Dog’s Purpose combines the emotional struggle that families often go through when losing a pet, and also takes the dog’s perspective into account. The film portrays the love that dogs have for their owners, but does not skip over the love that owners have for their dogs.
Based on the book of the same title by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose tells the story of a Golden Retriever puppy named Bailey as he is born, grows up, dies, and then is reincarnated through multiple other dog breeds.
As he is reincarnated through these other breeds such as a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, German Shepard, and Bernese Mountain Dog, he takes on different names and is connected to new people through each journey. The intense journey that this dog’s soul goes through is long and exhausting. This dog ends up meeting multiple people who need his support and help in so many different ways. I think it is hard to see that this same dog is present in every single breed.
Not only does this make the film create an exhausting journey for the dog, but he learns throughout his time with each person, important lessons, what the meaning of life is to one person, and how that differs from the meaning of life of another. While helping the people he encounters, this dog also battles with the question of why he is on this journey, which ultimately is revealed as he helps his first owner, Ethan, reunite with his high school sweetheart, Hannah.
The plot of the film along with big stars such as Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad in leading roles, led audience and critics to believe that the film would be a hit with dog lovers, the kind-hearted, and younger audiences. However after accusations that during production the dogs in the film were treated poorly, the reception of the film from many moviegoers was negative. The accusations were announced to be untrue by a third-party animal cruelty expert, however the initial reaction had already caused the film’s attendance in theaters, and acceptance to take a hit.
The film, similar in nature to other movies of the same genre such as Marley and Me and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale will tug at the heartstrings of animal-loving audiences, but others might see it as cheesy or awkward. The film takes a new stance on the way these types of stories are told. Not only is it from the perspective of a dog, but the dog uses phrases that make its seem like he is the owner of the boy he lives with. This is one of the aspects of the film that might make the story seem awkward to audiences.
Nevertheless, the film was doomed from the start against critics because of the genre’s pitfalls, accusations of animal cruelty, and somewhat unstable storyline. Those who take the animal cruelty accusations to heart will be disgusted and upset with the film, however those who love animals, especially dogs, will be touched by the way the film reveals the true and wonderful purpose of man’s best friend in our lives. While the film has both positive and negative aspects, the one idea that is brought to mind is whether or not we as dog owners or humans, realize the enormous impact that our pets, especially dogs, can have on us.