November 28, 2019


Dear Mr. Bruce Cameron:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people say that animals don’t have feelings. They aren’t intelligent enough to comprehend difficult situations, to possess emotions, or worse, to have any real purpose in life. I’ve strongly disagreed, but I never realized just how similar animals are to humans until I read your book. Not only has this novel assisted me in better understanding my own dog, but it has helped me rediscover what it means to be human.

I read A Dog’s Purpose several weeks after adopting my dog, Jingle. So much of Bailey I see in her. He yearns for human affection the same way Jingle longs for companionship. Every day when I come home from school, the first thing I see is Jingle jumping in a frenzy, her tail wagging in excitement. She’s always enthusiastic to earn a belly rub or to be taken for a long walk. Bailey also comforts Ethan when he’s grief-stricken or going through a tough time. Two years ago, I vividly remember sobbing when I had to leave my former soccer team. Jingle stayed by my side and licked every tear away until I stopped crying. Without this book, I wouldn’t truly treasure my dog’s undying friendship and unconditional love as I do.

I enjoy the story even more as it is told from a dog’s perspective. There are countless tales of owners and their dogs, but this was the first book I’ve read in which I’m able to look at things from a dog’s point of view. I can experience the world in a way I’ve never fathomed before. Suddenly cars aren’t just vehicles- they transport me to exhilarating adventures. Smells aren’t just interesting – they’re powerful storytellers. People aren’t just individuals- each person has various layers to them that shape who they are today. Life becomes simple, innocent, and abundant in joyfulness. On the contrary, the older I grow, the swifter time seems to slip away. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that my life is turning into one large to-do list. I’ve been second-guessing several of my choices, stressing over every detail of the day, and growing fatigued of my blazing-through-the-week-without-pausing lifestyle. Bailey has taught me that simplicity is the best approach. While it is necessary to work diligently, I shouldn’t allow minor mistakes to affect my mood, or permit my busy schedule to take away valuable time with my family or Jingle. As Bailey learned, life is too momentary to waste precious time dwelling on past failures and regrets. Instead, I should live life to the fullest by appreciating each blessing and cherishing every moment.

Overcoming obstacles that are unexpected is not only extremely challenging but emotionally draining. When Ethan is injured in the fire, my heart goes out to him. While this book is purely fictional, the harsh reality is that life is uncertain. Unfortunately, sometimes the sole action we can take is to adapt. When I moved schools, I lost touch with many childhood friends. Clashing schedules eventually caused us to grow distant. Although I still have a handful of companions whom I can confidently trust, I only get to spend time with them once every few months. Just like Ethan, I felt dejected, angry and didn’t know how to react. Over time, I realized that I had no control over my circumstances, and there is no option but to optimistically move forward. Though my situation was not as dire as Ethan’s career-ending injury, it validated that one can never be certain of what the future holds. Ethan and I both struggled but accepting and prevailing over our hurdles are what give us our inner strength.

A Dog’s Purpose has completely changed my outlook. Each time I read the book, it opens a deeper understanding of life and, more importantly, myself. I fully assumed I would learn about dogs; what I didn’t expect to learn is what it means to be human. If people were taught by dogs like Bailey, our world would be a much more compassionate place. As Charles Yu once said, “If I could be half the person my dog is, I’d be twice the human I am.”


Elisa John

Page last modified: March 11, 2020