Logo for A Dogs Purpose on DStv

Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, Britt Robertson

Based on W. Bruce Cameron’s novel of the same name, A Dog’s Purpose is a family drama that follows the many lives of one devoted dog who is constantly reincarnated over the course of nearly 50 years, finding his own purpose by being a loyal companion to a number of humans, who he teaches about laughter and love.


He starts off as a feral puppy named Toby, rescued and renamed Bailey in the life that forms the central part of the story, where he meets a young boy called Ethan, who he never forgets. He variously returns as a German Shepherd Police dog, Ellie, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and a St Bernard / Australian Shepherd Mix, teaching and learning along the way as he’s owned by a widowed Police officer in the Chicago Police Department, a college student and a neglectful couple who abandon him. He even finds a love of his own in the form of Landseer Roxie – his college student owner’s partner’s dog - though she doesn’t seem to want to return it!


Ultimately, he’s joyfully reunited with Ethan (Dennis Quaid) – now a broken-spirited and lonely farmer. Ethan doesn’t recognize him, though, and attempts to hand him over to the local animal shelter. A tear-jerking intervention on one-time Bailey’s part saves the day and he sets about helping Ethan rediscover his life, helping him find love and purpose.


Prior to theatrical release, the film was dogged, if you will, by controversy over leaked video footage which appeared to show a distressed German Shepherd performing on the film appearing to be forced unwillingly into a raging water tank. The furore over the footage forced the filmmakers to cancel the U.S. premiere event, but subsequent statements by the American Humane Association, Director Hallström, writer W. Bruce Cameron and even Quaid himself all concluding that the footage had been edited in such a way as to make the incident look bad – whereas on the day, all the correct guidlelines had been followed and the dog was never harmed or abused.


Whether telling classic "man’s best friend" tales like Beethoven and Homeward Bound or less memorable but no less heartwarming ones like Air Bud or Snow Dogs, the movies have a great history with dogs. And there are few more powerful ways to tug at the heartstrings of a human – just ask anyone who’s seen Marley & Me! When Quaid’s agent told him he had been offered a part in the film adaptation of the novel, such was the power of the concept that he said he would do it, even before he knew the full plot.