Study Guide

A Dog's Purpose Life, Consciousness, and Existence

By W. Bruce Cameron

Life, Consciousness, and Existence

Have you ever looked at your dog and wondered what he or she is thinking? Maybe the dog is thinking about its next meal or its next nap. Perhaps the pup has thoughts of chasing balls—or its own tail. Or maybe the hound is pondering Nietzsche's theory of eternal recurrence.

In A Dog's Purpose, the dog doesn't talk like the farm animals in Babe or walk around on two legs like Snoopy. Outwardly, he behaves like a dog. But inside, his thoughts are very complex: he wonders if his life has any purpose. He may be sniffing his own poop, but inside, he is pondering the meaning of existence itself.

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. Do you think real dogs might think the way this dog does? Do his thoughts seem like puppy thoughts or human thoughts?
  2. Is the dog reincarnated to fulfill a purpose? Or does the dog think he has a purpose specifically because he is reincarnated?
  3. Do any of the human characters consider the dog's purpose? What do you think each person in the book would consider a dog's purpose to be? Are some of those purposes more important than others?
  4. The dog's purpose is centered on serving humans. Is it possible for a dog to have a purpose without a human in the picture?

Chew on This

The longer the dog lives, the more complicated his life seems to be. The more complicated his life is, the more he feels the need to find a purpose to give himself direction.

In each of the dog's lives, he is focused on a human (sometimes more than one), and he devotes his life to making that person's life better. That is his purpose.