One day it occurred to me that the warm, squeaky, smelly things squirming around next to me were my brothers and sister. I was very disappointed. (1.1)
Our narrator doesn't identify with members of his own species. Instead, he bonds more closely with humans, who become his real family. Do you think this is an accurate depiction of how dogs behave?
Though my vision had resolved itself only to the point where I could distinguish fuzzy forms in the light, I knew that the large and beautiful shape with the long wonderful tongue was my mother. (1.2)
Okay, perhaps our narrator does care for his dog mother. And what's a better description for a mom than "large" and "beautiful," with a "long wonderful tongue"? Put that in your mom's next Mother's Day card.
I couldn't see that my brothers and sister had any purpose whatsoever. (1.2)
We're back to seeing our narrator not care one iota about his doggy siblings. What's with his lack of regard for them? If the dog were a human, how would you feel about his attitude toward his siblings? Or is this a normal attitude for a young person or young pup?
I decided my time in the Yard had prepared me to dominate the puppies in my family, and was irritated they didn't' feel the same way. (5.17)
Dog families appear to be defined by competition between siblings. Is that any different from the siblings behave in human families? If so, how?
My new mother wouldn't be joining me, I realized. She was staying with the family. I was on my own. (5.39)
Our narrator doesn't realize that his new mother's main job is to pop out new pups. She doesn't have any special attachment to her family, because they're all taken away, but she doesn't know any other life.
"The boy needs a family around him while he rebuilds." (16.49)
Again, we see the importance of family to a human. This experience shapes the dog's belief at the end of the book that Ethan needs a family in order to be whole. Is the dog right? Why or why not?
But Maya didn't carry that inner core of sadness with her all the time; she felt genuine joy at Mama's house, where there were all the children to play with. (22.12)
The dog often observes that the humans around him are happiest when they are with their families. The dog, too, is most happy when he's with his family—his human family, that is. His own dog family…well, he can do without those mutts.
That's what was different. In all the time I'd known him, Jakob had never once been happy. (24.25)
The dog lays the blame for Jakob's sadness on his lack of a family. Her belief (the dog is female at this time) is reinforced years later when she meets Jakob again. He has a family, and he's happy, so the two facts must be related, right?
"You take care of yourself, okay, buddy?" Ethan said softly. "You need a nice home with kids to play with. I'm just an old man." (30.42)
Ethan is lonely here, and he speaks with the regret of a man who doesn't have a nice home or kids to play with.
For Ethan to be rescued, he needed to have a family. He needed a woman and to have a baby with her. Then he would be happy. (31.23)
The dog, Buddy, takes it upon himself to build a family for Ethan at the very end of the story. He sees it as his greatest mission, and he pursues it with the zest of a child in a romantic comedy trying to help his father or mother find true love.
In the Yard I adjusted quickly to life in the pack, I learned to love Senora and Carlos and Bobby. (4.2)
It seems like the dog loves his human masters more than he loves his own doggie family. Why is the dog more attached to the humans than to his siblings and his mother? Could it be that while the humans provide safety and security, nothing is guaranteed in the dog family?
The man didn't love us at all. (5.32)
Did Senora really love her dogs? She kept so many of them that they ended up being taken away; it seems the conditions were maybe not the best. So was this love really about the dogs, or was it more about Senora herself?
[Dad] regarded me with mild affection—nothing like the berserk adoration flooding out of Ethan, though I could feel that was how much Dad and Mom loved the boy. (6.61)
Love appears to be a mostly human phenomenon that rubs off on the dog simply by virtue of the fact that the dog spends so much time around humans. Is this a convincing characterization of animal emotion? Or do you think animals might have their own unique emotions?
The boy loved me; we were the center of each other's worlds. (6.71)
Does Bailey think "love" and "being the center of each other's worlds" are the same thing? If so, that could account for his disappointment years later when Ethan leaves him to go to college. Does he think Ethan loves him less at that moment?
He crept over to the doghouse and arranged the blanket on the thin pad inside. I climbed in next to him—we both had two feet sticking out the door. I put my head on his chest, sighing, while he stroked my ears. "Good dog, Bailey," he murmured. (7.39-7.40)
Ethan shows his affection for Bailey by sleeping with him in the doghouse. As if his love weren't already apparent, Ethan says, "Good dog"—which to a dog's ears is basically the same thing as hearing "I love you." It's the cherry on top of this little loving sundae.
"Bailey, Bailey, Bailey, I'm going to miss you, doodle dog," Ethan whispered in my ear. His breath was warm and delightful. I closed my eyes at the pleasure of it, the sheer pleasure of love from the boy, love by the boy. (17.74)
The last thing Bailey experiences before he dies is the love of his boy. It's a big deal for him, because he has never felt this sort of unique love before. Although he may have loved Senora and the others in his first life, they cared about all their dogs equally. With Ethan, Bailey is special.
"I love you," Jakob whispered. Then he turned and walked away. (19.35)
For Jakob, love is reserved for humans—in this case, a dead human. Jakob's life is filled with mourning for his lost love, which leaves no room for him to love the dog with him, or anyone else. Including himself.
"You are the most wonderful woman in the world," he said. "I…I love you, Maya." (23.68)
Here we see romantic love between two humans as Al proposes to Maya. Ellie sees how happy this love makes Maya, and in her next life, the dog will attempt to find the same love for Ethan.
Wendi's love for me was instant but confusing, a jumble of emotions I didn't understand. (26.31)
It's difficult to tell if Wendi's "love" for the dog is love at all. She is a jumble herself—and by jumble, we mean a hot mess. She's the type of person who shouldn't have a pet, because she doesn't know how to take care of herself.
"You're such a great dog, Buddy, I don't know what I would do without you," Ethan said on one such evening. (32.16)
Buddy has transcended being merely a "good dog": he's been upgraded to "great dog," meaning that Ethan might love him even more than he loved Bailey. Sure, they're basically the same dog, but Ethan doesn't know that, and Buddy is happy to see that he remains in his owner's high esteem.
Fast seemed overcome with sadness, and it took me a moment to understand: Sister, his favorite companion, was gone, as lost to us as was Hungry. (1.59)
The dog isn't particularly loyal to his own doggy family, but that appears to be a trait unique to him, for whatever reason. Fast and Sister are loyal to one another…although, okay, Mother is only loyal to herself.
Mother's submission was simply the natural order. (2.31)
Tog Dog gets other dogs to show their allegiance to him by making them submit to him. It's his way of retaining control of the yard. He is viewed as a bully, but how is this dog's behavior different from how humans treat dogs, like when they housebreak them?
I crouched low and licked them all in the face, letting them know in no uncertain terms that they'd have zero problems with me—it was my brother who was the troublemaker. (2.33)
Our narrator seems like a bit of a coward here. He casts his lot with the big dogs in the pen, and he doesn't stand up for his brother or his family. On the other hand, he is just a puppy.
I was torn between loyalty to Mother, who had fed me and taught me and taken care of me, and to the pack, which included my worthless brother, Fast. (2.46)
"Torn" seems to be a strong word here, as our narrator has never expressed any sort of loyalty to his mother or to his siblings. Are you surprised when he leaves with her? (On the other hand, it's not like she exactly sticks around after a certain point or anything.)
Spike was unquestionably the leader now, a message he enforced by challenging every single one of us, head-to-head in the yard. (4.34)
Spike is seen as a bully, a villain of sorts among dogs. But how is his technique to gain superiority different from Jakob's? Jakob, of course, eventually finds a dog that will submit to his control, but the dog loves Jakob in a way s/he didn't care for Spike.
I put on an extra burst of speed and leaped through the air, landing on the back of his go-kart and nearly toppling off again. (12.36)
This is a "Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown" moment, when Bailey helps Ethan win a go-kart race. Except Bailey is much more helpful to his owner than Snoopy ever was.
"None of them like it. The question is will she stop struggling and let me be the boss, or will she keep fighting? I got to have a dog that knows I'm the boss." (18.6)
Jakob isn't looking for a cuddle puppy: he wants a dog who is loyal and obedient. Ellie, as the dog is now known, can definitely be loyal—although we'd be lying if we said she didn't miss the snuggles a bit.
It was, I reflected, as close as Jakob could come to the unrestrained adoration I once felt from Ethan." (19.25)
When Jakob says "good dog" to Ellie, it means something different from what "good dog" meant when Ethan said it to Bailey (back when Ellie was Bailey). Jakob and Ellie have a working relationship, one based on professional bonds of loyalty instead of gooey notions of love.
I knew who he was: I would recognize that scent anywhere. Unmistakably Ethan. I'd found the boy. (29.32-29.34)
The bond between boy and dog—or at least this particular boy and this particular dog—literally transcends time. The dog is loyal to Ethan no matter what form he's in. We imagine if the dog were reincarnated as a tree, he would do his best to grow in Ethan's yard.
I lay there quietly with my boy in the stillness of that spring afternoon, the house silent and empty. Soon the girl would be home, and, remembering how hard it had been for everyone to say good-bye to Bailey and Ellie and even the cats, I knew she would need my help to face life without the boy. As for me: I loyally remained right where I was, remembering the first time I had ever seen the boy and then just now, the very last time—and all the times in between. (32.47)
Here we see Buddy actually use the word "loyal." Loyalty means showing constant support, no matter what, and Buddy remains loyal to Ethan, his "boy," even when Ethan is an old man. Buddy realizes that loyalty extends even beyond Ethan's life: he must support Ethan's family, too. He knows Ethan would want that.
Our den was scooped out underneath the black roots of a tree, and was cool and dark during the heat of the day. (1.4)
If this story were about humans, it would be a rags-to-riches (to-rags-and-back-again) story like something straight out of Dickens. Our narrator is born a poor dog in a ditch, but soon he'll find a warm loving home with humans who care about him. What more could a dog want?
I began to think of what it would be like to leave the Den. (1.34)
Already, our narrator is curious about the outside world. He no longer wants to stay in his "home," where it is relatively safe. He's willing to risk that safety for the chance of something more.
I loved my world, the Yard. I loved running through the mud by the water trough, my paws making a dirty spatter that flecked my fur. I loved when we'd all start barking, though I seldom understood why we were doing so. I loved chasing Coco and sleeping in a pile of dogs and smelling other dogs' poops. (2.39)
The dog likes being a dog—having an environment where he can run, play, and explore. This world is pretty instinctive: the dog doesn't exactly understand why he loves barking and smelling poops, but this kind of canine bonding just happens naturally.
This is what happened to dogs who tried to live in the world without people—they became beaten down, defeated, starved. Sister was what we all would have become if we'd stayed in the culvert. (3.16)
But doesn't this thing happen to dogs who live in the wild because people make that life almost impossible? It seems like our narrator is becoming conditioned to being imprisoned by humans—he prefers it to living out in the world. Being domesticated is better than running wild. Cats, on the other hand, apparently didn't get that memo.
But I was a different dog than Mother. I loved the Yard. I wanted to belong to Senora. My name was Toby. (4.3)
It might seem traumatic that Toby is taken from his "home" in the wild and put into a pen with a bunch of other dogs—but he likes it. He considers this new place his home. What makes the Yard so special to him? Why is the Yard a home when the place he was born was not one?
A few months later, we all moved into a different house with a much better backyard. It had a garage, too, but thankfully no one suggested I sleep out there. (24.3)
Over the course of the book, the dog has a few different homes. He doesn't get particularly attached to any specific place; it's the people who make a place feel like home, not the place itself. Although not being confined to the garage is a nice bonus.
"Not allowed to have a dog! It's in your lease!" I cocked my head at the word "dog," wondering if I might be the source of the man's anger. I hadn't, as far as I knew, done anything wrong, but all the rules were different at this crazy place, so who could say? (26.36)
Although we said in the last quote that the place itself doesn't matter, in this case it does. Wendi isn't supposed to have dogs, so being hidden and confined is stressful for the dog. But, the people matter here, too. If Wendi actually cared for the dog, she wouldn't try to have him in a place that doesn't allow dogs.
"I'm doing you a favor. You're free now. Go catch some rabbits or somethin.'" (27.32)
Victor leaves Bear in the wilderness, and so the dog is able to return to a feral state. That's how he was born a few lives ago, right? Well, yeah, but the thing is that back then, the dog didn't know any better. Being wild seemed pretty great. But now, now he longs for a home where he can cohabit with humans and feel some love.
When Ethan came outside the next morning I shook myself off and ran over to him, trying to restrain myself from showering so much affection on him. He stared at me. "Why are you still here, huh, boy? What are you doing here?" (30.23)
Okay, we're back to talking about how it's the people who make a home a home. Bailey was never particularly attached to the house at the Farm when he would stay there over the summer. But now that Ethan lives there, the dog runs in as if he's always lived there. It feels like home now.
About the only thing involved with the new arrangement that was less than perfect was the fact that when Hannah started sleeping with Ethan I was summarily dismissed from the bed. (32.9)
Buddy the dog is really excited that Ethan has made a new home with Hannah. The side effect, though, is that Buddy gets kicked out of bed. It's a bit of doggy humor, as the dog doesn't realize the real reason why—but the dog doesn't take it too hard. He's happy to be under the same roof, even if he isn't under the same sheets.
There were different rules when humans were involved. (3.55)
For the dog, humans are the ones who make the rules. What aspects of the dog's life do these rules change? How is the dog's life different with humans from the way it was in the wild? And why does the dog end up preferring to be with humans rather than in the wild?
It was starting to seem to me that just when I had life all figured out it changed. (4.2)
Our main character is going to deal with this feeling for all his life. Er, lives, even. He never has it all figured out, at least not until the very end. But what are the odds that things might change for him even after the final page?
"There are no bad dogs, Bobby, just bad people. They need love."
"Sometimes they're broke inside, Senora. And nuthin' will help 'em." (4.18, 4.19)
By this logic, though, couldn't you say that there are no bad people, either? Do bad people just need love, too? Could you perhaps say the same thing about Todd, a human, later in the story? Maybe he is broken and nothing can help him. Neither our dog narrator nor any of the humans around Todd attempts to find out why he does what he does.
Of all the things I'd ever done, making Senora laugh seemed the most important. It was, I reflected, the only thing that gave my life any purpose. (4.81)
As the dog's idea of his purpose develops, this early conception seems quaint by comparison. It's even a little sad, since the dog sees no value in himself as he is; he only cares about making people happy. Does that core value ever change?
At once, everything was both strange and familiar. (5.1)
The reincarnation process is strange, although in a book narrated by a dog, we guess anything goes. The dog gets used to it pretty quickly, but he's also used to his own life being entirely out of his control.
My purpose, my whole life, had been to love him and be with him, to make him happy. I didn't want to cause him any unhappiness now—in that way, I decided it was probably better than he wasn't here to see this, thought I missed him so much at that moment the ache of it was so bad as the strange pains in my belly. (17.63)
Again, the dog puts the feelings of humans over his own feelings. He wants to die without Ethan seeing him, so as not to cause Ethan any stress, but he doesn't understand that Ethan might want to say goodbye. Also, is it possible that the dog is overestimating the amount of stress he might cause Ethan? Ethan may be upset, but the death of the dog isn't going to change his life that much.
That made me think of diving after the boy during rescue, the fading light as I dove deeper, the way the thick water pushed against my body, just like now. I could no longer feel the boy's hands touching me; I could just feel the water on all sides: warm and gentle and dark. (17.75)
These are Bailey's last thoughts before he dies. He doesn't know it yet, but he will be resurrected again, and these thoughts will become his new purpose—remember that he saves a kid from a storm drain at the end of his next life.
I understood, with a jolt, that I was a puppy again. No, that wasn't quite it. It was more that I was a puppy who suddenly remembered being me again. (18.2)
We get a few philosophical moments from our dog-arrator, usually right before dying or right after being reborn. Having that sort of experience tends to make someone—even an extra furry someone—a little introspective.
How could I, Bailey, be a girl dog? Except I wasn't Bailey. (18.8-18.9)
Bailey learns that nothing is impossible when he is reincarnated as a girl dog. Is there any real reason why he becomes a girl dog, or is what get here simply a bit of humor at his Bailey discovering that this time he's biologically different?
Dogs are not allowed to choose where they live; my fate would be decided by people. But I nonetheless felt torn inside, conflicted. (22.11)
As we showed in the first quote, rules are different when humans are involved. The dog doesn't think about things much when those "rules" make him feel needed. But when he doesn't feel needed, the dog is conflicted about his very existence. We can all relate.
The scent of death, recognizable to me as any memory, wafted off of Hungry in the dry, dusty air. (1.55)
Death is a natural part of the dog's existence, and as you can see, he does not fear it. Nor does it make him sad, or seem to affect him in any way at all. It's a rather Zen approach. Or he's just stone cold.
I felt overwhelmed with a fatigue as heavy and oppressive as when I was a small puppy and my brothers and sister would lie on top of me, crushing me. That's what I was thinking about as I began to sink into a dark silent sleep—being a puppy. (4.79)
In death, our narrator returns to the beginning of life. And he does so almost literally, since he is soon reincarnated as a different puppy.
His strength was leaving him; I could feel it ebbing away. (11.36)
Bailey attempts to protect Ethan's life in a way he didn't for his own dog brother in his first life. This scene also foreshadows the end, when Bailey stays next to Ethan as he dies as an old man. Do you think Ethan will be reincarnated?
A week or so later, Smokey died. After dinner the family went into the backyard, where Ethan had excavated a big hole and they wrapped Smokey's body in a blanket and put it in the hole and covered it with dirt. […] He and Mom cried a little. (13.1)
Bailey gets to witness a burial procedure, something he doesn't get to see done to himself when he dies, even though he is later reborn. That's maybe for the best, since it would be really weird to see your own funeral.
The next day, after Mom and the boy left for school, I went out into the yard and dug Smokey back up, figuring they couldn't have meant to bury a perfectly good dead cat. (13.3)
Again, we see the dog's chill attitude toward death. It's also pretty clear that he doesn't completely understand what's going on with a burial. Death seems natural to the dog, so he doesn't understand the big deal—why not just let the cat, you know, rot somewhere in peace?
I hadn't given it any thought at all, though I supposed deep down I knew that one day I would wind up like Smokey the cat. I remembered the boy crying the day they buried Smokey in the yard, and I hoped he wouldn't cry over my death. (17.63)
The dog gives some equal opportunity ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ to death. He shrugs off even his own. However, it's a little easy for him to shrug it all off at this point, because he's already died once before. He's a pro at this, and he knows he'll probably be reborn once again. So what's to fear, really?
And again, just like that, the pain was gone—in fact, I felt like a puppy again, full of life and joy. I remembered feeling like this the first time I ever saw the boy, coming out of his house and running to me with his arms open wide. (17.75)
Once again, we see the dog come full circle in death, except this time, he isn't only thinking of himself as a puppy. He's also reflecting on Ethan's life, seeing him again as a child. Do you think similar thoughts go through Ethan's head before he dies at the end?
I anxiously lay down by Jakob's side, nuzzling his unresponsive hand. I could feel the pain working its way through his body, and the blood smell was alarming for how much of it there was. (20.44)
The dog is pretty casual about death, but this moment is traumatic because of all the violence involved. The other deaths the dog has witnessed have been natural ones, but this one is caused by a gunshot. Don't worry, Jakob ends up surviving—but at this point, the dog doesn't realize it yet, and it's scary for her.
I wondered if there were anything I would have wanted to do one more time—Find? Swim in the ocean? Stick my head out the car window? These were all wonderful things—I had done them all, though, and that was enough. (25.73)
In her final moments, Ellie appears to be evaluating her doggie bucket list to see if she had done everything in life she wanted to do. She did, but then again, she had simple desires. How does her evaluation of her own life moments before her death compare to what humans do when they are facing their own mortality?
There was no pain, no fear, nothing but the sense that my brave boy was going where he was supposed to go. (32.45)
The dog is confident that Ethan is going where he is "supposed to go," but he doesn't say exactly where that is. Does the dog believe that Ethan will move on to an afterlife? Why doesn't he think that Ethan will be reincarnated as the dog himself was? Or does he maybe believe that?
I felt Mother's fear ripple across her back. (1.20)
Dogs can sense emotions in a way that people can't; we see that early on with our narrator feeling his mother's fear. Dogs don't talk to each other the way people do, but they do communicate through their bodies.
The tastes were exotic and the smells were wonderful, but Mother's anxiety affected all of us, and we ate quickly, savoring nothing. (1.27)
The feelings of other beings greatly affect the dog. If his mother is anxious, he is, too. But this phenomenon can be positive, too. If his human expresses love toward the dog, then the dog feels that as well, and it's a better feeling that he's ever experienced.
Her sadness washed into me, and I pulled against the noose, wanting to go comfort her. (4.57)
Even when the dog is in danger, he can feel the intensity of human emotions. Humans call out to him, almost psychically, and he feels impelled to help them. It's his purpose, after all, right?
"No!" Mom or Ethan would shout when I wet the floor. "Good boy!" they'd sing when I peed in the grass. "Okay, that's good," they'd say when I urinated on the papers. I could not understand what in the world was wrong with them. (6.60)
This is a comic sequence about the frustration people experience when they try to housebreak their pets. Here, it's shown as being pretty darn confusing from the dog's perspective.
One of my favorite things to do was to learn new tricks, as the boy called them, which consisted of him speaking to me in encouraging tones and then feeding me treats. (7.1)
It seems that it isn't necessarily the words that matter, but how they are said. The dog responds well to the encouraging tones. Hey, you get more tricks with honey than you do with vinegar, right?
"Stay"? "Dog Door"? "Good dog"? How were these terms, which I'd heard so often, even remotely related, and which one was "Stay" again? None of this made any sense to me. (7.11-7.12)
The words are very confusing to the dog. Here, the humans are speaking to him in a neutral way, so he is even more confused. Subtlety is lost on the canine kind.
I was astounded at this false accusation. Bad? I'd been accidentally locked in the garage but was more than willing to forgive them. Why where they scowling at me like that, shaking their fingers at me? (7.23)
How does Bailey understand "bad" when he has trouble understanding other terms? Is it the humans' tone and body language that makes the meaning of the word clear? Probably. Nobody says things like "bad dog" in a sweet, loving way.
A mournful sadness drifted off of him, coupled with a gloomy anger that flared sometimes when all he was doing was sitting there looking out the window. (16.14)
Everyone knows that Ethan is sad after the arson incident, but only Bailey the dog senses the true depth of Ethan's despair. Does language sometimes get in the way for people? Sometimes it seems like humans are so used to communicating with language that they've lost the ability to really sense or intuit each other's real feelings.
"I could feel sadness at the edges of her feelings and wondered what it was all about. Perhaps she was bored all day, too." (26.38)
What makes Wendi's sadness different from Senora's? If you'll recall, the dog wanted to comfort Senora even as he was being taken away to be killed. But here, he feels no such compulsion to make Wendi happy. Why not?
"Well, where do you live, huh, boy?" Hannah's hands fumbled for my collar, so I sat. (31.31)
Without being able to speak English, the dog is limited in his ability to be a matchmaker. He can't write a note or bark out words to Hannah to let her know that Ethan likes her. But he can pretend to be lost and get her to look at his collar, which is all the information she needs to give Ethan a call.
Something told me that one of those days she wouldn't come back. We would have to fend for ourselves. […] Mother wouldn't be there to look after me. (1.33)
Early on, our narrator learns that he isn't to trust or rely on other dogs. They are almost always on the lookout for only themselves, and they will abandon another of their species to save themselves.
Mother never [played], though—she had dug herself a hollow behind the railroad ties and spent most of her time just lying there. When I went to see how she was doing, she growled at me as if she didn't know who I was. (2.40)
Mother feels abandoned and alone in the Yard. She is a feral dog, and even though life is harder for her in the wild, she prefers it to being cooped up in the Yard. Our narrator doesn't understand this, and feels that his mother has abandoned him. Both of their feelings are complicated, as they want different things out of life.
Then she turned to look at me, her eyes bright. The message in them was clear: my mother was leaving. (2.45)
Mother is leaving, but is she actually asking the dog to come with her here? It doesn't seem like she has had much of a desire to look after him after they were captured. Why would she start caring now?
The last I saw of my mother she was doing what she did best: sliding into the shadows, unnoticed, unseen. (3.1)
This moment right here may be the last straw with our narrator and his relationship to his dog mothers. He follows his mom out of the Yard, but she clearly has no desire to take care of him; she is only looking after herself, and that really hurts our dog narrator's feelings.
The boy was only gone one night, but it was the first time since we'd been together that I had slept without him, and I paced the hallways until Dad shouted, "Lie down, Bailey!" (12.5)
It's very confusing for Bailey when Ethan goes off to college. Bailey had been under the impression that he would be with Ethan forever, so when his loyal companion disappears, Bailey doesn't know what to think. But he never takes it personally or holds it against Ethan, because he knows Ethan loves him.
Where was my boy? (15.102)
It's very confusing for Bailey when Ethan goes off to college. Bailey had been under the impression that he would be with Ethan forever, so when his loyal companion disappears, Bailey doesn't know what to think. But he never takes it personally or holds it against Ethan, because he knows Ethan loves him.
"No, Bailey, it's okay. You Stay." (16.69)
Stay is capitalized because of the severity of the command. Bailey has to Stay because he is being left behind while Ethan goes away for college. Ethan will be gone for months, leaving his dog behind.
Wherever he was, whatever he was doing, I hoped he was happy. I knew I would never see him again. (18.34)
It's not anyone's fault that the dog feels lonely here. He has learned to accept that life goes on without him—even though, you, he's still alive at this point. It's almost like practice for all the death and reincarnation the dog goes through in this novel.
When I thought about Jakob, I realized that his cold dedication to Find helped me get over my separation from Ethan—there was no time for grieving. I had too much work to do. (22.70)
When some people—and dogs, it appears—feel abandoned, they become workaholics to avoid the grieving process. Can feelings of abandonment be avoided entirely, or must people (and dogs) return to them at some point and confront these feelings?
I would not have been so good at work if I hadn't had the experience of being Ethan's dog—Jakob's cold distance would have been incomprehensive and painful to me. (26.3)
Here, Ellie (now reborn as another dog) suggests that she was able to endure Jakob's distance because Ethan had loved her (as Bailey). Ellie had love in her memory to fall back on and cushion her from Jakob's less-than-warm treatment of her.
If I was such a good dog, why was I being abandoned by my owner? (26.67)
Bear doesn't understand that while Wendi wants to love him, she is unable to show it, either because she doesn't have the financial means, or because she just doesn't know how. By trying to find a better home for him, Wendi is trying to improve his life. Either that, or she doesn't want to get in trouble with her landlord. Maybe a little of both.