The life of a dog seems short and sweet: Birth, life with a family, death. However, in A Dog's Purpose, a dog brakes this pattern: he lives his, dies, and to his surprise comes back again as another dog! Throughout his many lives, he learns many lessons as he tries to find one thing: His purpose.
To begin the book, our main character was found as a wild dog who was being raised by his mother in a place called The Den. After being caught by a woman, Senora, he received his first name, Toby. He is then taken to his new home, the Yard. He enjoys living there until a fighting dog, Spike, come. Senora takes good care of the animals in the Yard; however, is reported to animal control for poor living conditions. After a vicious fight with Spike, Toby is declared "Unadoptable" by animal control and is put down along with many others in his new family.
Toby was then reincarnated into a Golden Retriever who was being raised by an unnamed man. He was surprised and confused about this new life: he still had all his memories from his past life. After trying to figure out where Senora was, the little puppy found a way to escape from the unnamed man before being picked up off the side of the road by a truck driver. The truck driver went out for a drink that night, but never returned for the poor pup who suffered from heat exhaustion in his truck. As he began to think his new, short life was over, a woman saw him in the truck, broke him free, and nursed him back to health. She then took him home to her son, Ethan. He fell in love with him at first sight and decided to name him Bailey. From the day Mom rescued Bailey from almost dying of heatstroke with Ethan was 8, to the day he moved off to college, they were inseparable. Bailey helped Ethan get through hard times in life. When one of his neighbors caused an accident in which he permanently injured his leg, he got lost in the woods, his parents got a divorce, and when Hannah, his girlfriend, broke up with him, Bailey was always at his side. However, not long after Ethan left for college, Bailey's health slowly declined and Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa have no choice but to put him down.
Bailey then woke up in a familiar atmosphere yet again, but this time things felt different: he was a girl and Ethan was gone. He was reincarnated as a German Shepherd puppy and was picked by a kind police officer, Jakob, who named her Ellie. She was trained by Jakob to play a "game" called "Find Wally." Ellie didn't understand what she was doing, but it made Jakob happy which made her think of Ethan so she continued doing it. In reality, Ellie was taught to be a search and rescue dog for the local police department, and she was good at what she did. She worked with Jakob until he was wounded on the job and forced into retirement. She then worked with trainee Maya saving people until one day an accident forced Ellie into earley retirement as well. After retiring, Ellie became a therapy dog and went to schools with kids. Later in life, Ellie died and she felt as if her life of saving people had allowed her to fulfill her purpose and would be able to finally rest peacefully. "This had to be why, when I left Ethan, I was reborn as Ellie - everything that I had done, everything that I had ever learned, had been leading up to being a good dog who saved people... Now that I had fulfilled my purpose, I felt sure I was at the end, that there would be no rebirth after this, and I was at peace with that." (Cameron 255, 256)
Ellie was then shocked to see she had come back as male Black Lab. He was adopted by a woman, Wendi, who named him to bear. However, because of her landlord, she is unable to keep him and gives him up to her mother. Her mother was dating a man who was an alcoholic. He instantly hated the dog's presence in the house and released him into the middle of the woods. Bear remembers these woods and realized he was not far from the Farm. Using his past search and rescue skills, Bear was able to find the Farm and Ethan. He noticed that Ethan was different now; there was a deep feeling of sadness and regret radiating off of him. At first Ethan tried to give Bear up, but instead changed his mind and decided to keep him and name him Buddy. After getting lost one day, Buddy was able to reunite Ethan and his ex-girlfriend, Hannah. They get married and live happily together until Ethan has a stroke one day and spent his last few moments with Buddy. It is then he realizes what his purpose was. "I understood it now, why I had lived so many times. I had to learn a lot of important skills and lessons, so that when the time came I could rescue Ethan, not from the pond but from the sinking despair of his own life." (Cameron 314)