Study Guide

A Dog's Purpose Cars

By W. Bruce Cameron

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Riding in Cars with Boys

Dogs and cars go together like mayonnaise and chocolate. Our dog narrator develops an infatuation with cars as a puppy when he first sees a dog riding in a car: "He barked joyously when he spotted me, but I was too astounded to do anything but lift my nose and sniff in disbelief" (1.30).

From that moment on, all the dog wants to do is ride in a car. Even when he is taken to get neutered—and, later, when he is taken to be put down—the traumatic experiences don't take away the magic joy of the car ride. No, the dog can't get enough. He doesn't just want to ride in a car; he wants to ride in the front seat.

Here are six instances when the dog, across his various lives, gets to ride in the front seat.

  • "Well it looked like I was a front-seat dog now!" (6.11).
  • "Grandpa took me for a car ride and I was a front-seat dog" (12.2).
  • "Ethan could take his own car rides! This changed everything, because now I went almost everywhere with him, my nose out the window as I stood in the front seat, helping him drive" (13.11).
  • "Car rides were always exciting, no matter where we went" (16.28).
  • "He'd never let me be a front-seat dog before!" (19.55).
  • "Though it had been a long time since I'd had the wonderful thrill of a car ride with my nose out the window, what I wanted most was to put my head in Ethan's lap and feel his hand stroke me, so that's what I did" (30.66).

We're sure we missed plenty, but we wanted to highlight the sheer joy the dog feels at being in the front seat. Some people treat their car as a status symbol, but the dog in A Dog's Purpose treats his location in the car as the status symbol: he knows that if he's in the front seat, his owner must truly care about him.

Hey, it helps cut down on motion sickness, too.

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