A Dog's Purpose: 7 Differences Between the Movie and the Book
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A Dog's Purpose: 7 Differences Between the Movie and the Book

Here are seven ways the film differs from W. Bruce Cameron's novel.

A Dog's Purpose: 7 Differences Between the Movie and the Book

The newly released A Dog’s Purpose is a heartwarming tale about a dog that experiences reincarnation, becoming a new puppy each time its life ends. This film is based on W. Bruce Cameron’s novel of the same name. As with all book-to-movie adaptations, the two versions are a bit different. Spoilers included, here are some of the ways the film differs from the novel:

1. The first life is sped through.

In the book: Bailey’s first life is as Toby. Toby starts out as a stray that is taught by his mother to fear humans. One day some humans pick him up, along with his family, taking him to a home for strays. This home is owned by a woman called Senora and she means well, but has too many dogs in the backyard than what is safe and healthy. She even takes in a former fighting dog, doing nothing to rehabilitate him. She just lets him loose in the yard expecting things to turn out well. Toby gets involved in a fight with him and his leg is ruined. One day someone reports Senora for the living conditions and the dogs are taken from her and put in the pound, where Toby is deemed unadoptable and he is euthanized along with the fighting dog.

In the movie: Bailey is simply shown being born as stray, taken to the pound, then we see him wake up in the puppy mill that he escapes to become Bailey.

2. Todd is less evil.

In the book: Todd and Ethan become friends as children. They live on the same street and Todd gets ostracized from the rest of the neighborhood kids as he gets older because his true nature becomes clear as they age. He tries to kill Bailey twice and does succeed in killing another neighborhood dog, Marshmallow. He also tries to get Hannah to leave with him when he sees her at the football game with Bailey. Todd burns down Ethan’s house by pouring gasoline everywhere and lighting it on fire. Bailey attacks him to the point that he leaves a blood trail that the police follow after he escapes home.

In the movie: Todd is only seen as a teenager and he makes rude comments about Bailey and about Ethan's alcoholic father, but never attempts to murder any dogs. He throws a firecracker in Ethan’s house and doesn’t try to escape until after he has watched the fire with a look on his face that seems to imply he did not expect the whole house to be engulfed in flames.

3. Hannah and Ethan meet differently.

In the book: Ethan stays at his grandparents’ place for the summer as a kid and Hannah, who lives down the street, shows up with some brownies for the family. The grandparents already know her. The young kids are awkward with each other and begin to date as they get older.

In the movie: Ethan goes to a fair in his grandparents’ town as a teenager and Bailey runs to Hannah, startling her by putting his snout under her skirt. Ethan and Hannah then spend the day together at the fair getting to know each other and then start dating.

4. The flip is a football and Bailey enjoys playing with it.

In the book: Ethan tries to make an invention for him and Bailey to play fetch with together. He calls it “the flip” and Bailey hates it. It is mentioned many times that Ethan wants to play with the flip with Bailey, while Bailey would much rather they find something else to play with.

In the movie: Bailey and Ethan often play with a deflated football that Bailey loves. Ethan teaches him a trick in which he throws it in the air and Bailey launches himself off of Ethan’s back to catch it.

5. Ellie is shot instead of Jakob/Carlos

In the book: Ellie is a search-and-rescue dog that takes her job very seriously and Jakob is her handler. He gets shot on the job and can no longer work, so Ellie is given a new handler. Her life as Ellie is a significant part of the book and holds just as much as importance as the life as Bailey. Ellie dies of old age, not a gunshot.

In the movie: Jakob is named Carlos and it is Ellie that gets shot on the job, not him. She dies and moves on to another life as a corgi named Tino. Life as Ellie is short and, at the beginning, Ellie does not seem to understand that she is a working dog. Ellie states that Jakob made playing feel like work, rather than understanding that she is training for an important job.

6. The life with Maya is not as Ellie.

In the book: After Jakob gets shot, Maya, a patrol officer, takes over as Ellie’s handler. This new job is hard on Maya, but she works hard to keep up with the dog, striving to be the handler that Ellie deserves. They travel to El Salvador to help find bodies after an earthquake, presumably referring to the horrific earthquake that occurred in 2001 in which hundreds of people died and thousands were injured. Ellie finds a survivor in a collapsed building in which there is some sort of toxic substance. Her nose is injured and she is unable to continue work as a search-and-rescue dog. She then works in the police station's outreach program, going to schools with Maya. Al is Maya’s neighbor that she eventually marries. Ellie grows old and her life beings anew.

In the movie: Ellie dies on the job and becomes Tino. Tino is found by Maya, a lonely college student that takes him everywhere. Al is in one of her classes and has a female dog that Tino has a crush on. Al and Maya get married and have children that dress Tino in silly outfits. Tino grows old and then begins a new life.

7. Ethan recognizes that Buddy is Bailey.

In the book: Ethan takes in Buddy and loves him like he did Bailey, but he does not recognize that this is his childhood dog reincarnated.

In the movie: Buddy makes Ethan recognize him as Bailey by getting the old football and performing the trick that Ethan taught him a long time ago. Ethan switches out the collar that says “Buddy” with the old one that has Bailey’s name on it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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