A dog's journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Pan Macmillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781760786052.
Some of us look after dogs and see to their welfare. What we don't know is that dogs are born with a dedication to look after humans and, having relatively short lives in comparison, are re-born periodically to reengage with their human.
The system is revealed in this story where Buddy is still alive after his human Ethan (an old man who the dog has served and protected from childhood) has died. Growing old himself, Buddy is still protective of Ethan's partner and their grand daughter Charity until the moment he passes peacefully.
When Charity finds herself lost and vulnerable in her teenage years, it is clear that a dog must take charge and the former Buddy is rebirthed as a female dog Molly. Without giving the story away, the same dog has the capacity to reappear as a different breed or gender after dying, if their human needs them at some stage of their life. The former Buddy is surprised to have been reborn, having assumed that his own life journey would be complete given that his human was no longer alive. Even as tiny puppies, dogs will have memories of their former lives, when they were bonded to their human.
This is an unashamedly sappy story but anyone who has owned or spent time with dogs will recognise the premise and will secretly want to believe. The story definitely prompts the reader to think deeply about the amazing loyalty and love shown by dogs, even when their owners neglect or mistreat them. The ceaseless desire to please their human, to protect them from harm and to try to soothe their pain is beautifully depicted in this novel. What struck me deeply is that dogs have no power to determine their own fate and can only trust in the goodness of humankind. Sadly, all too often these innocent creatures will suffer because individuals or human systems don't recognise the purpose of dogs.
Any person who has ever recognised a dog's silly grin, observed the tail wag of affection, or felt the press of a loving canine against their leg should read this book to better understand these creatures. Those who have not experienced dog moments should read the book for the same reason.