When I agreed to read “A Dog’s Purpose (A Novel for Humans) by W. Bruce Cameron” offered by a coworker, I was not expecting where it was going to lead me. The book owner had warned me that, “You’re going to laugh and cry reading it. It’s a very good book. It’s written from a dog’s point of view and it talked about it being reborn again and again to find its purpose. “
Sure enough, I found myself smiling reading the first couple of pages during my lunch hour. Later on, when I was waiting for my son at gymnastics, I couldn’t help but laughing when reading Chapter 1 (first life as Toby, a stray dog). Toby lives with Mother and other siblings: Sister, Fast, and Hungry (the runt).
Sister and Fast fell all over themselves to get at the frog, who managed to land in a pool of water and kick away in silent, rapid strokes. Sister put her muzzle in the pond and snorted, sneezing water over fast and me. Fast climbed on her back, the frog — my frog! — forgotten. Sadly, I turned away. It looked as though I lived in a family of dimwits.
I couldn’t hide a chuckle.
My smile didn’t stay for very long as the story was going the other way. The area that Toby and family live was called the Den. Every now and then, Toby heard a truck driving around with some humans checking the Den area.
Hungry (the runt) was already died when the Den was ambushed by Senora and her helpers (Sister ran away). Hungry had been sick from birth and not long for the world.
Then they were all taken to the Yard, to live with other dogs. Toby wounded his foreleg because of the fight with Spike, a former fight dog. Apparently the Yard owner (Senora) hoards dogs, and it was raided by the authority who told her that it’s ‘Inhumane’ to have so many dogs in such poor living condition. At the end of chapter 4, Toby was unadoptable and was put to sleep.
My heart suddenly aches. Something clicked in my brain; and for a minute, I couldn’t do anything but staring at the book. It felt like an invisible shovel was digging an old wound buried down in my memory. As that blurry memory was coming in to shape, I recognize what it was. The unpleasant death of my cat. My eyes started to feel warm. My throat tickled. I had to close the book, shake my head and blink my eyes a couple of times and like always, trying to supress that memory.
Everytime I came across the ‘unpleasant’ part of the book (in other words, death), that memory’s becaming clearer and clearer. At the end of chapter 17, Bailey was put to sleep.
“You can let go, Bailey. You did a good job; you took care of the boy. That was your job, Bailey, and you did a good job; you are a good dog, a good dog.”
That’s when I bawled. I remember taking one of our cats (was it Bubu?) about 17 years ago to the vet when he got into a fight and was scratched nastily across one of his eyes. Of course, I didn’t know where Bubu went after he got hurt. He came back to our house with a severe infection where the scaratch was. I remember crying in the cab while holding my cat. When he’s not better, we decided to take Bubu to the pet hospital and that’s when he died. I was crying so hard, it drained the energy out of me. I think at that point I made a promise to myself not to have a pet anymore; not a cat, at the least. It’s too hurtful. Bubu was one of seven (or eight?) kittens of Nala. The first time I met Nala was when I rescued her from the gutter by the road on a rainy day. She was meowing so loud, I could hear it from inside the house. Since then Nala lived with us and has kittens (in Indonesia, it’s uncommon to spayed/neutered stray cats). I named all of kittens, which all started with a ‘B’ and Bubu was my favorite because he was kind of ugly. Still, I loved him dearly.
I’m glad I read this book. It had lead me to deal with something I otherwise tried so hard to avoid. Yes it’s hard to think about it again, but it’s kind of relieving. Living in the U.S. and to have a family with children, it’s hard to avoid owning a pet. It’s still hard for me to say ‘yes’ to a cat. Couldn’t tell the kids the truth behind my stern ‘no’, but we now have a mutt named Max. And even though I dreaded the day when we have to say goodbye to this loving and friendly dog, I’m enjoy having a pet again.