A Dog's Purpose

A Dog's Purpose

by W. Bruce Cameron


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594614180
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 05/24/2011
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 76,608
Product dimensions: 8.26(w) x 5.58(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

W. Bruce Cameron is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Dog's Purpose (now a major motion picture), A Dog's Journey, The Dog Master, and The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man. He lives in California.

George K. Wilson has narrated over one hundred fiction and nonfiction audiobook titles, from Thomas L. Friedman to Thomas Pynchon, and has won several AudioFile Earphones Awards.

Read an Excerpt

A Dog's Purpose

By W. Bruce Cameron

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2010 W. Bruce Cameron
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6027-4


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.

Though my vision had resolved itself only to the point where I could distinguish fuzzy forms in the light, I knew that the large and beautiful shape with the long wonderful tongue was my mother. I had figured out that when the chill air struck my skin it meant she had gone somewhere, but when the warmth returned it would be time to feed. Often finding a place to suckle meant pushing aside what I now knew was the snout of a sibling seeking to crowd me out of my share, which was really irritating. I couldn't see that my brothers and sister had any purpose whatsoever. When my mother licked my stomach to stimulate the flow of fluids from under my tail, I blinked up at her, silently beseeching her to please get rid of the other puppies for me. I wanted her all to myself.

Gradually, the other dogs came into focus, and I grudgingly accepted their presence in the nest. My nose soon told me I had one sister and two brothers. Sister was only slightly less interested in wresting with me than my brothers, one of whom I thought of as Fast, because he somehow always moved more quickly than I could. The other one I mentally called Hungry, because he whimpered whenever Mother was gone and would suckle her with an odd desperation, as if it were never enough. Hungry slept more than my siblings and I did, so we often jumped on him and chewed on his face.

Our den was scooped out underneath the black roots of a tree, and was cool and dark during the heat of the day. The first time I tottered out into the sunlight, Sister and Fast accompanied me, and naturally Fast shoved his way to the front.

Of the four of us, only Fast had a splash of white on his face, and as he trotted jauntily forward this patch of fur flashed in the daylight. I'm special, Fast's dazzling, star-shaped spot seemed to be declaring to the world. The rest of him was as mottled and unremarkably brown and black as I was. Hungry was several shades lighter and Sister shared Mother's stubby nose and flattened forehead, but we all looked more or less the same, despite Fast's prancing.

Our tree was perched on a creek bank, and I was delighted when Fast tumbled head over heels down the bank, though Sister and I plummeted with no more grace when we tried to make the same descent. Slippery rocks and a tiny trickle of water offered wonderful odors, and we followed the wet trail of the creek into a moist, cool cave — a culvert with metal sides. I knew instinctively that this was a good place to hide from danger, but Mother was unimpressed with our find and hauled us unceremoniously back to the Den when it turned out our legs weren't powerful enough to enable us to scale back up the bank.

We had learned the lesson that we couldn't return to the nest on our own when we went down the bank, so as soon as Mother left the nest we did it again. This time Hungry joined us, though once he was in the culvert he sprawled in the cool mud and fell asleep.

Exploring seemed like the right thing to do — we needed to find other things to eat. Mother, getting impatient with us, was standing up when we weren't even finished feeding, which I could only blame on the other dogs. If Hungry weren't so relentless, if Fast weren't so bossy, if Sister didn't wiggle so much, I knew Mother would hold still and allow us to fill our bellies. Couldn't I always coax her to lie down, usually with a sigh, when I reached up for her while she stood above us?

Often Mother would spend extra time licking Hungry while I seethed at the injustice.

By this time, Fast and Sister had both grown larger than I — my body was the same size, but my legs were shorter and stubbier. Hungry was the runt of the litter, of course, and it bothered me that Fast and Sister always abandoned me to play with each other, as if Hungry and I belonged together out of some sort of natural order in the pack.

Since Fast and Sister were more interested in each other than the rest of the family, I punished them by depriving them of my company, going off by myself deep into the culvert. I was sniffing at something deliciously dead and rotten one day when right in front of me a tiny animal exploded into the air — a frog!

Delighted, I leaped forward, attempting to pounce on it with my paws, but the frog jumped again. It was afraid, although all I wanted to do was play and probably wouldn't eat it.

Fast and Sister sensed my excitement and came stampeding into the culvert, knocking me over as they skidded to a stop in the slimy water. The frog hopped and Fast lunged at it, using my head as a springboard. I snarled at him, but he ignored me.

Sister and Fast fell all over themselves to get at the frog, who managed to land in a pool of water and kick away in silent, rapid strokes. Sister put her muzzle in the pond and snorted, sneezing water over Fast and me. Fast climbed on her back, the frog — my frog! — forgotten.

Sadly, I turned away. It looked as though I lived in a family of dimwits.

I was to think of that frog often in the days that followed, usually just as I drifted off to sleep. I found myself wondering how it would have tasted.

More and more frequently, Mother would growl softly when we approached, and the day she clicked her teeth together in warning when we came at her in a greedy tumble I despaired that my siblings had ruined everything. Then Fast crawled to her, his belly low, and she lowered her snout to him. He licked her mouth and she rewarded him by bringing up food, and we rushed forward to share. Fast pushed us away, but we knew the trick, now, and when I sniffed and licked my mother's jaws she gave me a meal.

At this point we had all become thoroughly familiar with the creek bed, and had tracked up and down it until the whole area was redolent with our odors. Fast and I spent most of our time dedicated to the serious business of play, and I was beginning to understand how important it was to him for the game to wind up with me on my back, his mouth chewing my face and throat. Sister never challenged him, but I still wasn't sure I liked what everyone seemed to assume was the natural order of our pack. Hungry, of course, didn't care about his status, so when I was frustrated I bit his ears.

One afternoon I was drowsily watching Sister and Fast yank on a scrap of cloth they'd found when my ears perked up — an animal of some kind was coming, something large and loud. I scrambled to my feet, but before I could race down the creek bed to investigate the noise Mother was there, her body rigid with warning. I saw with surprise that she had Hungry in her teeth, carrying him in a fashion that we'd left behind weeks ago. She led us into the dark culvert and crouched down, her ears flat against her head. The message was clear, and we heeded it, shrinking back from the tunnel opening in silence.

When the thing came into view, striding along the creek bed, I felt Mother's fear ripple across her back. It was big, it stood on two legs, and an acrid smoke wafted from its mouth as it shambled toward us.

I stared intently, absolutely fascinated. For reasons I couldn't fathom I was drawn to this creature, compelled, and I even tensed, preparing to bound out to greet it. One look from my mother, though, and I decided against it. This was something to be feared, to be avoided at all costs.

It was, of course, a man. The first one I'd ever seen.

The man never glanced in our direction. He scaled the bank and disappeared from view, and after a few moments Mother slid out into the sunlight and raised her head to see if the danger had passed. She relaxed, then, and came back inside, giving each of us a reassuring kiss.

I ran out to see for myself, and found myself disheartened when all that remained of the man's presence was a lingering scent of smoke in the air.

Over and over again the next few weeks, Mother reinforced the message we'd learned in that culvert: Avoid men at all costs. Fear them.

The next time Mother went to hunt, we were allowed to go with her. Once we were away from the security of the Den, her behavior became timid and skittish, and we all emulated her actions. We steered clear of open spaces, slinking along next to bushes. If we saw a person, Mother would freeze, her shoulders tense, ready to run. At these times Fast's patch of white fur seemed as obtrusive as a bark, but no one ever noticed us.

Mother showed us how to tear into the filmy bags behind houses, quickly scattering inedible papers and revealing chunks of meat, crusts of bread, and bits of cheese, which we chewed to the best of our ability. The tastes were exotic and the smells were wonderful, but Mother's anxiety affected all of us, and we ate quickly, savoring nothing. Almost immediately Hungry brought up his meal, which I thought was pretty funny until I, too, felt my insides gripped in a powerful spasm.

It seemed to go down easier the second time.

I'd always been aware of other dogs, though I'd never personally met any except those in my own family. Sometimes when we were out hunting they barked at us from behind fences, most likely jealous that we were trotting around free while they were imprisoned. Mother, of course, never let us approach any of the strangers, while Fast usually bristled a little, somehow insulted that anybody would dare call out to us while he lifted his leg on their trees.

Occasionally I even saw a dog in a car! The first time this happened I stared in wonderment at his head hanging out the window, tongue lolling out. He barked joyously when he spotted me, but I was too astounded to do anything but lift my nose and sniff in disbelief.

Cars and trucks were something else Mother evaded, though I didn't see how they could be dangerous if there were sometimes dogs inside them. A large, loud truck came around frequently and took away all the bags of food people left out for us, and then meals would be scarce for a day or two. I didn't like that truck, nor the greedy men who hopped off it to scoop up all the food for themselves, despite the fact that they and their truck smelled glorious.

There was less time for play, now that we were hunting. Mother snarled when Hungry tried to lick her lips, hoping for a meal, and we all got the message. We went out often, hiding from sight, desperately searching for food. I felt tired and weak, now, and didn't even try to challenge Fast when he stood with his head over my back, thrusting his chest at me. Fine, let him be the boss. As far as I was concerned, my short legs were better suited for the low, slinking run our mother had taught us anyway. If Fast felt he was making some sort of point by using his height to knock me over, he was fooling himself. Mother was the dog in charge.

There was barely room for all of us underneath the tree now, and Mother was gone for longer and longer periods of time. Something told me that one of these days she wouldn't come back. We would have to fend for ourselves, Fast always pushing me out of the way, trying to take my share. Mother wouldn't be there to look after me.

I began to think of what it would be like to leave the Den.

The day everything changed began with Hungry stumbling into the culvert to lie down instead of going on the hunt, his breathing labored, his tongue sticking out of his mouth. Mother nuzzled Hungry before she left, and when I sniffed at him his eyes remained shut.

Over the culvert was a road, and along the road we'd once found a large dead bird, which we'd all torn into until Fast picked it up and ran off with it. Despite the danger of being seen, we tended to range up and down this road, looking for more birds, which was what we were doing when Mother suddenly raised her head in alarm. We all heard it the same instant: a truck approaching.

But not just any truck — this same vehicle, making the same sounds, had been back and forth along our road several times the past few days, moving slowly, even menacingly, as if hunting specifically for us.

We followed Mother as she darted back to the culvert, but for reasons I'll never fully understand, I stopped and looked back at the monstrous machine, taking an extra few seconds before I followed Mother into the safety of the tunnel.

Those few seconds proved to make all the difference — they had spotted me. With a low, rumbling vibration, the truck came to a stop directly overhead. The engine clanked and went quiet, and then we heard the sounds of boots on gravel.

Mother gave a soft whimper.

When the human faces appeared at either end of the culvert, Mother went low, tensing her body. They showed their teeth at us, but it didn't seem to be a hostile gesture. Their faces were brown, marked with black hair, black brows, and dark eyes.

"Here, boy," one of them whispered. I didn't know what it meant, but the call seemed as natural as the sound of the wind, as if I had been listening to men speak my whole life.

Both men had poles, I now saw, poles with ropes looped on the end. They appeared threatening, and I felt Mother's panic boil over. Her claws scrabbling, she bolted, her head down, aiming for the space between the legs of one of the men. The pole came down, there was a quick snap, and then my mother was twisting and jerking as the man hauled her out into the sunlight.

Sister and I backed up, cowering, while Fast growled, his fur bristling on the back of his neck. Then it occurred to all three of us that while the way behind us was still blocked, the tunnel mouth in front of us was now clear. We darted forward.

"Here they come!" the man behind us yelled.

Once out in the creek bed, we realized we didn't really know what to do next. Sister and I stood behind Fast — he wanted to be the boss, so okay, let him deal with this.

There was no sign of Mother. The two men were on opposite banks, though, each wielding his pole. Fast dodged one but then was snagged by the other. Sister took advantage of the melee to escape, her feet splashing in the water as she scampered away, but I stood rooted, staring up at the road.

A woman with long white hair stood there above us, her face wrinkled in kindness. "Here, puppy, it's okay. You'll be all right. Here, puppy," she said.

I didn't run; I didn't move. I allowed the loop of rope to slip over my face and tighten on my neck. The pole guided me up the bank, where the man seized me by the scruff of the neck.

"He's okay; he's okay," the woman crooned. "Let him go."

"He'll run off," the man warned.

"Let him go."

I followed this bit of dialogue without comprehension, only understanding that somehow the woman was in charge, though she was older and smaller than either of the two men. With a reluctant grunt, the man lifted the rope off my neck. The woman offered her hands to me: rough, leathery palms coated with a flowery smell. I sniffed them, then lowered my head. A clear sense of caring and concern radiated off of her.

When she ran her fingers along my fur I felt a shiver pass through me. My tail whipped the air of its own accord, and when she astonished me by lifting me into the air I scrambled to kiss her face, delighting in her laughter.

The mood turned somber when one of the men approached, holding Hungry's limp body. The man showed it to the woman, who clucked mournfully. Then he took it to the truck, where Mother and Fast were in a metal cage, and held it up to their noses. The scent of death, recognizable to me as any memory, wafted off of Hungry in the dry, dusty air.

We all carefully smelled my dead brother, and I understood the men wanted us to know what had happened to Hungry.

Sadness came from all of them as they stood there silently in the road, but they didn't know how sick Hungry had been, sick from birth and not long for the world.

I was put in the cage, and Mother sniffed disapprovingly at the woman's smell, which had been pressed into my fur. With a lurch, the truck started up again, and I was quickly distracted by the wonderful odors flowing through the cage as we moved down the road. I was riding in a truck! I barked in delight, Fast and Mother jerking their heads in surprise at my outburst. I couldn't help myself; it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened in my whole life, including almost catching the frog.


Excerpted from A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. Copyright © 2010 W. Bruce Cameron. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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A Dog's Purpose 0 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
justlainee More than 1 year ago
WHOEVER GAVE THIS BOOK A BAD REVIEW IS OUT OF THEIR MIND. My mom gave me this book for christmas one year to read becuase I recently lost my best friend who yes, was a dog. He was very young and it is one of the worst experiences I have ever had in my life. This book helped me so much through the struggles I was going through. It made me laugh out loud, cry, and have hope. If you have a dog....you need to read this book. It is one of my favorite books of all time. There is nothing better then this book.
AirForceWife810 More than 1 year ago
I can confidently say that this is the best book I have ever read. I laughed. I cried. My emotions grew as the dog went from life to life learning new skills, finding new meaning, in order to finally fulfill his purpose. I cannot wait for the sequel, A Dog's Journey, to be released. After reading this book, my love for each of my dogs grew to a new level of appreciation. Every dog has a purpose. Every dog comes into our lives for a reason.
lautner-lover More than 1 year ago
I cannot say anything more than to read this book yourself! It is amazing! It is also touching and sad. Which is why you should read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book, and can add little to what the glowing reviews have said. I will add, however, that the audio version brings a deeper dimension to the text. Could the narrator, George K. Wilson, actually be a dog? The inflection, the dramatic pauses (pawses?), and the utter doggishness of the narration made me feel as if this dog was sitting at my feet or rubbing against my leg. Listen to this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Dog¿s Purpose is a heartwarming tale about a dog and his many lives. Bailey ¿named in one of his many lives- will capture your love within the first few chapters. I enjoyed this book most of the time. In my opinion wants you start reading this book you can¿t put it down. Bailey starts off with a short life as being a stray mutt. He was found on a curve by a crazy dog lover. The next the thing he really knew that he was in a cold room. After his short life as a stray mutt Bailey finds himself in the loving arms of an eight year old boy named Ethan. Ethan teaches Bailey to become a good-dog. He lives happily as Ethan¿s dog thinks he finally found his purpose but he was wrong. Bailey was yet born again as an upcoming female police dog. Will Bailey ever find is true purpose. Bailey, the main character, goes off to find his true purpose, over the course of several lives. He finds himself in different states, every time he is reincarnated. You learn from his adventure that love will always last no matter where you are. Cameron W. Bruce¿s style of writing can confuse you or maybe even surprise you. Conclusion The main character will capture your love even if you just hate dogs. Reading this book will change your emotions just like that. He starts off as a stray mutt and over several lives he becomes a black Labrador. Will Bailey ever find his true? Read the book to find out. A Dog¿s purpose is a must to read book. I recommend this book to teenagers who just adore dogs. If you want to read an often hilarious, adventure book then you should read this book.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Dog lovers have always known that dogs are smart, loving animals that are deeply devoted to "their humans." Author W. Bruce Cameron has taken this knowledge and added a unique twist that builds on it - a novel that imagines one dog, who lives several dog lives, and remembers each life, and the lessons learned in that life. A Dog's Purpose opens with a puppy describing his life. It soon becomes clear that the puppy, along with his three siblings and his mother, are feral. Eventually the puppy, along with his mother and one brother, are captured by a dog rescue. They are placed in a backyard with many other dogs and while the puppy, who is soon named Toby, adjusts well, his mother can't handle the human interaction and manages to escape. Toby grows, makes friends and is eventually reunited with his sister. But trouble comes when the rescue is shutdown by the authorities for having too many dogs. Toby soon finds himself in a bad situation ... When Toby's life comes to an end, he is reincarnated as a beautiful Golden Retriever. Now the puppy is part of a healthy litter, kept with a breeder. When he sees other puppies, from other litters, being adopted and disappearing into the great beyond outside the yard, he wants to go. He remembers watching his mother from his first life open the door handle, and he works to copy her. It works and he escapes from the breeder and wanders around until he is scooped up by a kindly man who takes him for a ride in his car. Unfortunately, the man stops at a bar and leaves the puppy in his hot car. Once again the puppy is rescued, this time by a woman who breaks the car window just in time before heat stroke kills the dog. She takes the puppy home to her young son, and this is where the bulk of the story is - between "Bailey" the dog and "Boy." After "Boy," Bailey comes back a few more times - once as a K-9 Search and Rescue German Shepherd and again as a black Lab. His final reincarnation as the Lab brings him full circle with a very satisfying conclusion to the story. Told from the dog's point of view, A Dog's Purpose is a delightful story that immediately drew me in and kept me reading until the last page was turned. The author has a true gift of capturing the thoughts of a dog and it truly felt as if the dog was sharing his life with me. Toby/Bailey/Ellie/Buddy was a loving dog who knew that his purpose was to do what his human wanted/needed him to do, whether that was save a child from drowning, or go for a car ride to make a boy happy. Like every dog, this dog picked up words - "kennel," "bed," "sleep," etc. and basic concepts such as "Merry Christmas" that to him meant people coming to the house. He would be sitting at the feet of his owner and pick up a word from the humans talking - for example, his name - and get all excited, not knowing what the rest of the conversation was about. The author did include a minimum amount of dialogue from the humans to give readers a hint of what was happening, but even without that assistance, it wasn't hard to follow. Much of what the dog did was pick up on emotions of those people around him - sensing joy, fear, pain - and reacting accordingly. The writing style definitely worked quite well, and I look forward to diving into the sequel, A Dog's Journey. Quill says: There's a reason Hollywood came calling and made a movie based on this book! If you love dogs, do yourself a favor and read A Dog's Purpose.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly one of the most heartwarming, feel good books I have read in a long time. I see my "puppies" and people in a different light. Couldn't put it down. Going to send it to my grandkids for Christmas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nancy_Baker More than 1 year ago
I've read it twice now. Second time was even better. If you have loved a dog in your life, this is a great read. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful read. I just finished and my heart is warm.  If I were a crier, I'd be balling.  I loved reading from the perspective of the dog, searching for his purpose in life. Every pet owner would LOVE this read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laughed and cried - great story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gripped me from the very first sentence, oddly I laughed. "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." This book is one of my all-time favorites and I definitely recommend those who are skeptical about buying this to go pick it up. It's an amazing read and worth the time all the way until the very end...
BriannaAshlyn More than 1 year ago
Great book for animal lovers! I read the book in 4 days, which is unusual for me. Since the book is written from a dog's perspective, the style of writing is obviously unique but very easy to read. A great summer read, since it is an easy book to get through on vacation. I cried a lot though! Reading the book is a great experience, but very happy and sad at the same time.
Greenangel5 More than 1 year ago
My mom got me into "Marley and Me" and I loved it, and then she showed me "A Dog's Purpose" and I loved it. Being able to follow this dog through it's thoughts and lives is very enjoyable and diverse. Definitely keeping it on my bookshelf as well as getting the second book too.
Whitney00hope More than 1 year ago
loved it brought tears to my eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book will change the way you look at any dog you meet - I highly reccommend it to dog lovers and those who may not be. Wonderfully written and beautifully conceived. It is an unbelievable look into the world of animals and makes you realize that they (as a cat lover I must believe cats feel this way, too) have feelings and emotions, and develop deep ties to their owners. Excited to read the sequel. Have tissues handy.....
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must for dog lovers!
UrLuvBug64 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book and highly reccomend it to anyone who has ever loved a dog. The story having been told from the dog's perspective is perfectly done. Just how I expect my Stryker would talk to me if he could. I smiled, laughed, and certainly cried. It was a beautiful story. For anyone who's ever wondered what their dog was thinking, you will so love love love this book! It's funny, but I often look to my Strykie boy after having read this and say in my head, "...what pure and unconditional love you give and how lucky am I."
CandleLight More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! In the 10 years I've been with my husband I've only ever asked him to read two books and this is one of them. I can't imagine anyone not liking this book. I laughed and cried. I loved this dog, and I loved this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a pleasure to read. It made me laugh, cry, remember my pets with fondness, and experience a new mindset for my current, challenging dog. I recommended this book to all of my dog loving friends, anyone who has lost a pet and all readers that love animals to some degree. They all loved the book as well. I have purchased this book and given it to many friends. It is a great gift!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago