Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 379
"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.
This book has strong moments of pathos but also light-hearted instances of humor, such as when Bailey is trying to adjust to what, from a dog's perspective, are the strange ideas humans have about where a dog should go to the bathroom.
"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.
In this heartwarming scene, Ethan comes home just in time to be there with Bailey as he dies. Bailey can die happy because he basks in the special love that Ethan has for him. Bailey has come a long way in this life.
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.
Bailey, now reincarnated as Ellie, a K-9 dog, has to deal with Jakob's sour personality, but he has memories of love from Ethan in his former life to fall back on. Love endures and love helps a dog endure as he passes from life to life.
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.
Now Ellie is dying and thinking poignantly about what she might have missed in life. But a dog can be satisfied with the simple pleasures of interacting with nature. Ellie, having had a chance to swim in the ocean and stick her head out a car window, can die at peace. She doesn't need to do any of this one more time. Because this dog lives and dies repeatedly, we as readers can experience death in different ways—and therefore learn from a simple dog different ways to die well.
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