With “A Dog’s Promise,” W. Bruce Cameron continues faithful uber-dog Bailey’s story. Bailey is the dog who helped “his” people in “A Dog’s Purpose” and “A Dog’s Journey” He’s the dog who made readers cry as he died over and over and each time was reborn as a different dog destined to help his person again. Often, Bailey would find his way back to Ethan in the first book and CJ, Ethan’s granddaughter, in the second.
In this third book in the series, “A Dog’s Promise,” Bailey is sent back to help Burke, who, with his brother and father, lives on the family farm that Ethan from the first book also lived on. Burke was born with a spinal problem and is a paraplegic. He decides that he wants to train a service dog, and he trains Cooper (Bailey) beautifully. Cooper loves living with Burke, his brother Grant, and their father Chase. And because Cooper narrates the story, we know exactly how he feels about his life.
Life is not idyllic on the farm, though. Since Burke’s and Grant’s mother left them, they’ve been at odds. And their father doesn’t seem to know how to express his feelings. Having a wonderful dog like Cooper does make things better, but he’s a dog, and even a miraculous dog like Cooper cannot magically transform two feuding brothers into best friends.
Each time Cooper dies in this story and then is reborn, the brothers have grown, and their situations have changed. But by the end of the story, we see that those whom we met at the very beginning have come full circle. They all belonged together in some way. And we learn why Bailey was sent back to his people to help them, because he and Lacey, a dog Bailey loves, do, in fact, save the family in a very special way.
With a global pandemic going on around us, this could just be the perfect time and the perfect book to read. It’s about dogs’ devotion to their people and how having a dog makes life better. It’s a must read for dog lovers, and if it inspires some readers to go out and get their own Bailey from their local rescue, all the better. In fact, with social distancing and work from home becoming a common and necessary reality, why not do it with a canine companion? You’ll never be bored, and if you foster or adopt from a shelter or rescue, you are literally saving a life.
Just remember that most dogs aren’t capable of narrating books. So while Burke in the story makes training a dog look fairly easy, in reality, training a dog involves lots of poop and pee and frustration. And, as Bailey so eloquently posits, lots of treats. But in the end? It’s totally worth all the work.
There is simply nothing quite like having a dog who provides unconditional love. Feeling under the weather? A dog like Bailey will not only keep you warm, he will wag his tail to see you no matter how bedraggled you look. All you have to do is stroke a dog (or give him or her a treat) to make that dog’s world happy. Dogs’ needs are simple, but the joys of living with them are far from simple.
Instead of thinking of this as a coronavirus season, make it a season that you stay home with your dog and read this touching dog book.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by Forge Books, the publisher, for review purposes.