Review: A Dog's Journey
I absolutely love getting inside the head of canines and living their stories and Cameron provides the conduit to do so with consummate grace, humour and palpable realness. How a dog thinks, reacts and feels is delivered so well that if this is not really how dogs behave, then it ought to be. That they should find us such a bewildering mix of befuddlement and wonderment is hilarious as well as far-reaching.
A Dog’s Journey is the second in a duo of doggie / man friendship stories, and will require something to mop your eyes with for it is no less of a heart tug than its predecessor, A Dog’s Purpose. Our endearing canine character again bounds his and her way through a handful of different dog lives somehow miraculously always reconnecting with the person he needs to most, his girl - Clarity.
It's a simultaneously heart wrenching and uplifting story about a troubled teen and her relationship with her narcissist, self-indulgent mother that somehow manages to end gently despite a lifetime of self-abuse and pseudo affection.
Clarity, aka CJ's story is communicated to us via Buddy, then Molly, then Max and finally, Toby who is constantly reassessing his true purpose each time he is reborn. He believes it is to protect and cherish one person, CJ however as her life unfolds and finally expires, he comes to understand his ultimate purpose is to love, which ironically is perhaps the same as we all ultimately live for.
This is a love story. A dog's story. A combined comedy and tragedy that succinctly mirrors life. These dogs do not entertain the same complicated complexities of life as we mere humans do yet they endure them for our sake because it’s their job, their purpose. If there are moments of plot incredulity, they are easily ignored with an exuberant bit of tail wagging.
Throughout this tale, Buddy - Toby's view of humans is often one of utter incomprehension. Again, a dog’s confusion and disbelief with us is sobering and forces the question, should we approach life as our dogs would. Should we reassess what is meaningful and vital and dismiss that which is petty and trivial. Perhaps like Toby and all the dogs before him, we should live more to love, like a dog. If that notion makes you laugh, then great. It's the first step to a better life.
Like showstoppers before them (The Art of Racing in the Rain and Marlee and Me for example) A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey are experiences you must live for yourself. If they don’t reinforce the love and devotion you feel for you own pooch and make you want to kiss him on the snout, I don’t know what will. Read the books (in private, with tissues), then see the movies (double up on tissues). A Dog’s Journey film release is May 2019 (USA) and August 2019 (Australia).
To complete my dog-tale fest, I succumbed to A Dog’s Way Home recently, as well. This is another W Bruce Cameron gem about a stray rescue pup persecuted by animal control, and then taken far from her home and her person, Lucas. Miles separate Bella and Lucas but nothing can keep her from reuniting with him.
That a dog’s motives can be as undiluted and pure as Bella's are is a source of great comfort and emulation.
Stories about animals crossing hell and high waters to Go Home to their beloved owners are not new but the singularly fascinating and captivating uniqueness of Bella's quest is that she tells it herself, as a dog.
Tender and entertaining, A Dog's Way Home is an epic tale (and now a major motion picture) of loyalty, tenacity, friendships and love. Quite simply, all the things that give life purpose.
I recommend all three with (a relaxation of the No Bark rule and) an affirmative, WOOF!
Title: A Dog’s Journey: Film Tie-In
Author: W Bruce Cameron
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia, $19.99
Publication Date: March 2019
For ages: 12+
Type: Contemporary Fiction
Buy the Book: Boomerang Books, Pan Macmillan Australia