Book Review: A Dog’s Way Home, by W. Bruce Cameron

 

I picked up A Dog’s Way Home on a whim. I had recently put down a deposit on a puppy and this was on a shelf by the register. I do not normally read books that star animals and it sat in my “To Be Read” (TBR) pile for a while. By the time I decided to read it my new dog was four months old and it was a matter of wanting to get the book off of my TBR pile. I had, after all, spent money on the book; I should read it. It wasn’t until I had finished the book that I realized the author wrote A Dog’s Purpose, which is now a movie. (Also not something I would read or watch, but the preview looks good and my seven-year old son does not pass up a dog movie.) According to the cover, this book is also slotted to become a movie.

With the afore-mentioned caveat in mind, A Dog’s Way Home took me some time to get in to because it was written in the dog’s POV and I had trouble relating to a newborn puppy. Bella is at first nameless, born in the crawl space of an abandoned apartment complex where she lives with her mother, siblings and a feral cat colony. The colony is tended by a young man who lives across the street, but tragedy strikes when a construction company is given the green light to demolish the buildings. This puts the surviving colony at risk, including our little puppy protagonist, who is rescued by the young man, Lucas, and given the name Bella.

Bella’s trials and tribulations do not end there as she and her person, Lucas, fight the construction company and the intolerance of Denver’s Animal Control agencies. The fight seems hopeless as Bella, despite some rather amazing qualities, has been identified as a Pitt Bull breed, an unlawful dog breed in the district. Bella doesn’t understand most of what happens to her, but one thing she knows for certain: she wants to be a “Good Dog” for Lucas and knows that no matter what, she has to “Go Home”.

As great as Bella is, I would have had even more difficulty if I didn’t have my own puppy! I tried to place him in Bella’s shoes (that’s Hamish, the handsome Boxer in the image above). I give the author props because this must be very difficult to write using only sensory descriptions to create a narrative and dialogue, which aids in revealing the human story. Some things were kind of hilarious, like the way Bella doesn’t understand a lot of what the humans are saying, but of course I, the reader, do because I am human. She also doesn’t comprehend a lot of the tragic and asinine things that occur with both animals and people in the book, though she begins to intuit many things, like figuring out what is right and wrong and who is good and bad.

I will say this. By the time Bella begins her journey home I am whole heartedly rooting for her. The obstacles this dog faces made me laugh, cry and scream in frustration and when I finished reading, I was not disappointed at all. Bella is a Good Dog! I’m glad I stuck with it.

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