A Dog’s Purpose

“What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? Is there a point to any of this?”

These are the questions ask by a… well, a dog.

A DOG’S PURPOSE, based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, tells the story of Bailey the dog who lives and dies but reincarnates to every different era, different owner. And because he dies then gets to be born again as a different breed of dog with again a different owner, that’s when he started to ponder about the meaning of life, about his purpose on earth.

It was the 60s and Bailey remembered it well, that moment when a boy named Ethan and his mother discovered him inside a locked car, almost dying. They saved him from his abusive owners. After the rescue, Ethan wanted to keep the puppy. The father of Ethan did not like having a dog around the house but with much prodding from the mother, the father reluctantly gave his approval. Bailey was so happy as much as the boy was. They were the best of friends. Bailey liked running around the house, running after the cat, and most especially, playing with Ethan the boy. But what Bailey did not understand was when the father came home one day getting mad over the scattered papers on the floor that he had fun doing. He also didn’t get it when he wasn’t allowed anymore to stay inside the house, or stay inside Ethan’s room. But Bailey the dog still found a way to get close to the boy. For he knew how to climb up to the window of Ethan’s room.

It was the 70s and Ethan had grown into a handsome teenager. He’s also an excellent soccer player in their high school. Then he met this beautiful girl. Bailey felt the energy from his master so he did not understand why Ethan’s not approaching the girl so Bailey made the first move. Bailey sniffed the girl’s butt. So there they were, Ethan was forced to talk with the beautiful girl, and he was apologizing for what his dog did. Her name was Hannah. That was the beginning of a wonderful love story between Ethan and Hannah.

Like in every story, when there is a protagonist, there is the antagonist. For there was another teenaged boy, a schoolmate of Ethan, who was so insecure and full of envy about Ethan being so good in soccer and all. Couldn’t contain his anguish for not being the “star” of their school, one night, this teenaged boy played a prank. But that small prank led to a house fire. Bailey, who was staying outside the house saw everything, ran towards the culprit ’til the teenaged boy ran away. Bailey remembered his family inside, Ethan and the mother, so he quickly climbed to Ethan’s room to wake him up. Ethan, the mother (now separated from her husband), and Bailey got out alive from the fire.

But Ethan’s leg was terribly injured. He’s not allowed to play the soccer anymore. It would take time for his leg to heal. College had to take a backseat. And those dreams that he and Hannah thought about together, for Ethan, they’ve become meaningless. He pushed Hannah away. Wanting to be alone and feel his misery even more, he gave away his dog to his grandparents then left. This made Bailey the dog very sad. Bailey missed Ethan very much.

Bailey was becoming weak as days went by. His old owners could not figure out how to keep Bailey feel well despite giving him everything. For Bailey, he just felt like he had lost his reason to live when Ethan left. But he was there, Ethan was there before Bailey closed his eyes and drew his last breath.

Bailey opened his eyes and he was born again. He’s no longer Bailey but Buddy, a female canine and his master was no longer Ethan but a grown-up, a policeman who had been training him on strenuous exercises as if there was a big work to do. But Buddy (Bailey) was enjoying the flow, for she felt like she was in-charge. She and her master gained applaud and awards for their accomplishments. But back home, it was a different story. The policeman was alone and very sad. A picture frame of the policeman beside a woman (must be his wife) was a clue that the policeman had been married but was now all alone. Buddy felt the sadness from her master that she thought being alone must be a terrible thing for a human to experience. So Buddy became a faithful dog to her melancholic master. Until she got shot during a police operation. The policeman–who for a long time was saving lives with the help of his ever loyal dog and for a long time in a state of catatonia whenever he thought about his wife–finally shed tears and embraced his dog very warmly to say goodbye.

Bailey opened his eyes and he was born again. It was the 80s. He’s again a he but his name was Tino, a name given to him by his new owner, Maya, a college female student. They enjoyed being together. Tino and Maya both liked pizza and ice cream. Maya loved Tino very much that Tino felt his role was to be a constant companion to his master who was kind and generous to him. But Tino had always known his master’s longings: to meet the man of her dreams. Who must love dogs, who will accept her for who she is. It seemed the universe had conspired to fulfill this single wish of this beautiful woman. In the park when she was teaching Tino to exercise (who was getting lazy and fat), she met a boy who was also walking his dog in the park. It wasn’t love at first sight for Maya but the boy pursued her. Then Maya fell in love with the boy. In later years, the boy asked her hand for marriage and Maya’s dream had finally come true, to be with the man, maybe not the man of her dreams, but be with the man who loves her dearly and whom she loves also. They lived as a happy, contented couple with their dogs. Tino died of old age.

Bailey opened his eyes and he was born again. He was adopted by a lady whose life with her husband was full of miseries, a hard life for they’re living in poverty. For the first time in Bailey’s life, from being a puppy to becoming a big dog, he’s tied to something ’round the clock not allowed to move around. He’s not allowed to play. He was always left alone outside. The only time that he gets to have a bonding time with his lady master was when it was time to feed him. Day in, day out, rain or shine, Bailey was just outside the house. He felt the burning heat of the sun and the wrenching coldness of the night. He could feel that the husband of his lady master did not like him. Until one night, the husband dragged Bailey to the pickup car then left him out there, in the middle of nowhere just to get rid of him.

Now abandoned, Bailey was sad but he felt it was sadder if he go back there in the house. He became a stray dog, walking all by himself without a purpose, not knowing where to go.

Reaching a certain place, he smelled something familiar. He smelled this guy. A grownup guy. It was Ethan!

The Ethan that he knew now was different but to Bailey, the man would always remain to be the boy whom he had never forgotten. For Bailey, Ethan was his home. Of course, the adult Ethan was clueless about this, about what’s happening in the dog who did not want to leave his front door after giving him food. It’s been a long time. Ethan already have wrinkles on his face. He was living all by himself.

But what seemed to be a mundane encounter between a grownup Ethan and a dog (Bailey, whom adult Ethan later on adopted and named Ellie) turned out to be a good fortune in waiting, as if the stars and the universe conspired in his favor. With Ellie by his side, he got excited again about his life, and it was because of Ellie (or Bailey) that he met again right on his own doorstep his first love, Hannah. Hannah by this time was a widow and had one daughter and three grandchildren.

The movie did not end showing Bailey or Ellie dying again. The movie ended on a happy note, with Bailey watching over his human companions, Ethan and Hannah, now happily married.

“What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? Is there a point to any of this?”

Bailey already knew now his purpose: To have fun. To save lives. To bring people closer. And just live in the present moment.


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