I just finished reading a book with this title by W. Bruce Cameron. This is the sequel to a book I talked about last month, A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans. If you’re new here or need to refresh your memory, you can read what I had to say about A Dog’s Purpose here.
Like its prequel, A Dog’s Journey is told from the first person point of view of a dog who is reincarnated three times. However, instead of ending up with different people every time, fate leads him to the same owner. When the book opens, Buddy, the black Labrador from the previous novel, is still living on the farm with Ethan’s widow Hannah who is often visited by her children and grandchildren. One such grandchild is a toddler, Clarity, who is staying on the farm with her mother, a self-centered individual with big dreams of being a singer who often neglects her daughter. Her mother doesn’t like dogs so when the child falls into a pond and Buddy saves her, she assumes Buddy pushed her into the water and won’t let Clarity anywhere near him. A year or so later, Buddy becomes ill and is taken to the vet and put down. By that time, Clarity and her mother have moved away, and as Buddy drifts into death, he expresses the hope that Clarity will someday find a dog who will love and take care of her.
When Clarity is a teen-ager, she finds another dog, and it’s Buddy, reincarnated as Molly, a Cocker Spaniel Poodle mix. She adopts Molly, against her mother’s wishes of course, and has other problems. She smokes, skips school quite a bit, and occasionally exhibits bulimic behavior, eating large quantities of food and throwing it up. She eventually falls in with a shady character, Shane, whom she inadvertently helps to rob her high school’s art department. After that incident, she tries to break off the relationship with Shane, but he stalks her. She flees to California to get away from Shane and her mother, but since she’s a minor, she’s found and brought back. Molly is with her through all this, doing her best to protect and comfort Clarity. The dog dies in a car accident while Clarity is trying to get away from Shane who is chasing her.
In the third life, Max, a Chiwawa Poodle mix, meets Clarity in New York where she hopes to become an actress, and she adopts him. She still binges and purges food from time to time. She walks other people’s dogs for a living, but that doesn’t always help her make ends meet, and she has a hard time finding other work. She eventually falls behind on her rent and is threatened with eviction and attempts suicide by taking pills with Antifreeze. Max is by her side most of the time, comforting and protecting her as usual. Her life takes a turn for the better when she is re-acquainted with Trent, a boy she has known since childhood who just happens to be living in New York and working as an investment banker. She and Trent are eventually married, and she becomes a psychologist, working with troubled teens and others. They live happily with Max and a cat named Sneakers until years later when Max dies peacefully with Trent and Clarity at his side.
You’d think that would be the end of the book, but no, the dog is again reborn, this time as a Beagle into a litter of puppies raised by an order of nuns. One of the nuns calls him Toby and trains him for work with hospice patients. This is where he again meets Clarity, who’s mother is a hospice patient with Alzheimer’s’ Disease. Her mother still won’t have anything to do with dogs, but Toby becomes a constant source of comfort and companionship to Clarity during this time. After her mother dies, Clarity volunteers at the hospice and eventually becomes a patient. Her suicide attempt years ago took its toll on her kidneys, and after over twenty years of dialysis and a transplant, she’s ready to give up. She dies peacefully with Toby by her side. A year or so later, Toby passes on and is reunited with Clarity, Hannah, Ethan, and others who cared for him through his eight lives.
I realize you probably don’t want to read the book now that I’ve told you pretty much the whole story, but there’s one important sub-plot I didn’t mention. After Clarity and Trent are married, Trent is diagnosed with cancer which is caught early due to a remarkable and perhaps unrealistic phenomenon. To find out what this is, you’ll have to read the book. Also, I’m sure you’ll be curious about Clarity’s grandmother and other relatives who are mentioned at the beginning of the book. You’ll read more about them, too.
This book can be downloaded in recorded format from Audible, read by the same narrator who reads A Dog’s Purpose and does an excellent job with both books. It’s also available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can learn more about W. Bruce Cameron and his books here. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey.
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver