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A Dogs Purpose

Study Guide for Grades 8-12

A Complete Study Guide for A Dogs Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron, including pre-reading information, vocabulary lessons, and motivational activities. Amy Cameron Judith Robben

Table of Contents
Table of Contents..............................................................................................................2 How My Writing Career Went to the Dogs......................................................................3 An Approach to A Dogs Purpose...................................................................................7 Essential Questions for the Students:............................................................................8 VOCABULARY EIGHTH GRADE.................................................................................13 VOCABULARY NINTH GRADE....................................................................................15 VOCABULARY TENTH GRADE...................................................................................17 VOCABULARY ELEVENTH/TWELTH GRADES.........................................................19 CONNECT WITH THE TEXT............................................................................................21 Chapters 11-20.................................................................................................................26 Chapters 21 32..............................................................................................................35 MOTIVATING ACTIVITIES...............................................................................................41 Grammar Connections...................................................................................................43 Extending the Lesson.....................................................................................................44

How My Writing Career Went to the Dogs

By W. Bruce Cameron My mother is fond of telling a story about visiting my kindergarten class and being advised that during story time, the children preferred that I be the only person telling stories. I preferred the same thing. The other kids probably had stories of getting a haircut or a pair of roller skates, but mine were likely filled with fire-breathing monsters and kindergarten children saving the planet. For as long as I can remember, my brain has served up a constant supply of internal movies, of stories flowing into my head in a steady stream. Opening my mouth to let the stories out was as natural and necessary an impulse as sitting down with pencil and paper would prove to be as I got older. Technology changesI went from pencil to typewriter to word processor to computer but my impulses never have. My head is full of stories, and I want to tell them. One December afternoon I was driving with my fianc and long time writing partner to visit family in Northern California. I was behind the wheel and the steady pulse of the dotted yellow centerline coming at me on the pavement put me into a relaxed, almost hypnotic state. A new story started in my head, a story about a dog who grew to understand he had a purpose too important to be fulfilled in just one lifetime. The entire narrativethe characters the dog would meet, the lessons it would learn, the challenges it would overcomeflashed into my brain as if I were downloading it from some central story server. We stopped for coffee, and when my partner came back with her latte, I said, sit down; I want to tell you a story. I wound up talking for an hour and a half, straight through, picking my way unerringly through the plot points. When I finished, my partner looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, youve got to write that book.

A Dogs Purpose came to me the way the best ideas often do: of a piece, complete and whole, with little repair needed. Writing this book has been one of the great creative experiences of my life.

Authors Purpose:
Just about everything I know about dogs, I have been taught by dogs W. Bruce Cameron. It is no coincidence that many of Camerons pet names appear in his novel. Cameron states that Bailey is a combination of all the Labs I have ever owned: their propensity for snacking, their adoration for their owners, and how they can sense the excitement and nervousness emitting from others. While Baileys return to Earth as different dogs appears to be a result of reincarnation, Cameron does not adhere to either Buddhism or Hinduism as a model for this spiritual journey. If you notice, Cameron points out, there is a great deal of time that has passed between Ellies death and her return to Earth as Buddy, which suggests a richer spiritual experience other than being reborn immediately. In A Dogs Purpose, Cameron makes his own rules. I hope the reader can tell that each dog wants to be in a loving relationship with a human being. All of Baileys experiences will enable him to not only find Ethan, but to save him. Each experience the dogs share gives them the tools needed to bring Ethan and Hannah together again. Cameron enthuses, We see the sadness wafting off of Ethan, like the sadness that came from Jakob. The dog does not realize that Ethan is an old man and incapable of having a child. Buddy knows that Jakob had a sadness that was fixed with a new relationship and the birth of a baby; Buddy is acutely aware of Ethans sadness and wants him to have the same things. This is not a novel about how animals serve humans. Ellie knows her job is to do what she is told, and that makes her happy to some extent, but she also feels something is missing in her relationship with Jakob. Bear tries to follow Victor because he wants to be a good dog. In both instances, the dog is searching for his or her role, or purpose. Whether by Intelligent Design or not, Bailey learns from his past lives that in order to save Ethan, he has to be brought into a family.

Point of View The unique quality of the narrative of this story is that it is told from the dogs point of view. For this reason, Cameron is vague about specific time and setting. There are some textual clues, but it is ambiguous for a reason. A dog does not have sense of the year or the setting of a story. A dog sees the terrain but doesnt draw conclusions about where he might be on a map. Cameron makes a reference to Ethan and his family watching the moon landing in one scene, where Bailey is jazzed up by the sense of fear and excitement. Years later, two men make a subtle reference to Y2K. It is up to the reader to do the math. The reader may picture the Southwest in Camerons description of the dried cracked earth, or the appearance of canals and bi-lingual characters, but the states names are rarely mentioned. Humor is also used effectively as a result of the dogs point of view. According to Bailey, Smokey the cat is the instigator in some of the trouble he finds himself in. When Bailey is punished for the disordered kitchen, he looks with glum distaste at Smokey and thinks, Smokey, you are a bad cat, a bad, bad cat. In Baileys view, neither the cats, ducks, or horses have any real value to the family, but he does acknowledge a hierarchy and is satisfied when he knows his place within it.

An Approach to A Dogs Purpose

As a teacher, this book offers a variety of teachable moments; students can identify and analyze the point of view, make predictions based on contextual clues, recognize the use of foreshadowing, make inferences based on real-world context and relevance, and identify and discuss literary elements that include: theme, setting, tone, and character analysis. This work of fiction pairs well with non-fiction material. It serves as a jump-off point for reflective and persuasive papers. Students can discuss and research mans relationships to animals, the empathy we feel for vulnerability in other species, how we use animals to manage our lives, and how we judge our own lives and purpose. In addition, there is an opportunity to reflect and speculate on the authors purpose for choosing the different breeds of dogs to serve different purposes in the book.

Essential Questions for the Students:


Do the different breeds in the book represent different purposes? Support your answer with details from the text. (Students may have to briefly research the 3 different breeds and explain what they are known for). Do the circumstances surrounding the birth of each dog contribute to its outcome?


What can you infer about the passage of time in the story? What clues are you given? Are there any gaps in time between when a dog dies and when it is reborn in the story?

3. What is the symbolism of the flip? Why did the flip reappear at the end of the story? Use quotes to support your answer. 4. Why do you think the author used the point of view of a dog when writing the story? How does the point of view relate to the authors purpose? How would the story be different if it was told in Ethans point of view, or Hannahs? 5. How does the author use foreshadowing to build rising action in the plot? Is it effective; why or why not? 6. What is Baileys conflict and how is it resolved? 7. How do dogs know when their owners are sad, happy, fearful, etc.? Find textual support for your answers.

What clues are given to help you identify the time and place of each life? Can you deduce where each dog lived? Support your conclusions with text from the book. Teacher Tip: With Google

Maps, you can figure out where Ellie is when they are hunting for the man who took the girl.

9. How are dogs vulnerabilities to mankind and their environment depicted in the book?

What does the dog learn in each of his lives that help him

fulfill his purpose? What do you believe will happen next; will the dog be reborn again?


Teacher Tip: For middle school students, use strategies for effective vocabulary instruction, such as graphic organizers, concept chains, and modified Frayer Models.
Define the Word Draw a picture or find a picture on the Internet to place here that demonstrates the word

Synonyms of Word have students find one or two words that have the same meaning Modified Frayer Model

Use the word in a sentence that demonstrates the students comprehension

Select 2-3 vocabulary words related to the same concept. In pairs or groups, have students explore how the words are related to each other. Have students create word chains that demonstrate these relationships. Share with class. Write a paragraph using the words that demonstrate their connection.

Chapters 1 5 6th Grade List Prancing Culvert Deprive Surly Erupt (ed) Feeble Deflated Submissive Menace Contempt 7th Grade List Beseech Plummet Disheartened Wafted Radiated Senora Compulsion Compelled Propelled Perimeter

Chapters 6 10 10

6th Grade List Gratitude Scavenger Lure Solemn Lethargic Commotion Attentive

7th Grade List Shied Disdain Encounter Humiliated Reluctant Assume Pungent Vapors

Chapters 11 15 6th Grade List Canopy Edible Fuss(ed) Grieve Conflict Audible Tension 7th Grade List Pursuit Dismay Apathy Tentative Procession Ventured Dispel Reluctance

Chapters 16 20

6th Grade List Mournful Previous Ecstatic Urgency Frantic

7th Grade List Resentment Flared Audacious Veer (ed) Subdued 11

Certified Turmoil

Alzheimer Intertwined Primal

Chapters 21 25 6th Grade List Dwelling Gait Genuine Timid Disability Linger Ponder 7th Grade List Mystified Imminent Rapport Burdened Agitated Assurance Bellowed Conscious

Chapters 26 29

6th Grade List Eviction Fragrant Deliberate Vanished Threshold Rummaged Distracted

7th Grade List Malevolence Intimidating Baffled Muffled Illuminate Fathom Receptive

Chapters 30 32 12

6th Grade List Peer(ing) Obediently Adoration Consult Burrowed

7th Grade List Astounded Surge Harbored Oblivious Impending


Acrid Chapter 1 Audibly Chapter 23 Beseech Chapter 1 Boisterous Chapter 4 Brood Chapter 5 Compelled Chapter 1 Compulsion Chapter 3 Cowering Chapter 1 Culvert Chapter 1 Descent Chapter 1 Dimwits Chapter 1 Dissipated Chapter 9 Feral Chapter 28 Gait Chapter 21 Gratified Chapter 7 Lethargic Chapter 9 Loathsome Chapter 12 Manic Chapter 7 Mottled Chapter 1 Parched Chapter 5 Perimeter Chapter 2 Pungent Chapter 6 13

Radiated Chapter 1 Rambunctious Chapter 2 Relentless Chapter 1 Resignation Chapter 2

Resolve Chapter 22 Snide Chapter 7 Sparse Chapter 2 Surly Chapter 2

ADVANCED: Baleful Ch. 6 Embedded Ch. 6 Groveled Ch. 3 Clamber Ch. 5 Furtively Ch. 3 Haughtiness Ch. 7

Impassively Ch. 9 Intoxicating Ch. 3 Obliterate Ch. 11 Plummeted Ch. 1 Savoring Ch. 1 Subdued Ch. 14 Taut Ch. 25 Tantalizing Ch. 3 Shambled Ch. 1 Succulent Ch. 2 Dispel Ch. 15



Adrift Chapter 28 Aerodynamic Chapter 10 Affixed Chapter 11 Astringent Chapter 8 Baffled Chapter 27 Beacon Chapter 29 Beckoned Chapter 5 Bellowed Chapter 25 Blearily Chapter 5 Concoctions Chapter 8 Cunning Chapter 20 Despaired Chapter 1 Elation Chapter 20 Encountered Chapter 17 Enticed Chapter 20 Feeble Chapter 17 Illuminate Chapter 28 Intently Chapter 19 Mournful Chapter 16 Ponder Chapter 26 Pedigree Chapter 26 Primal Chapter 20 Rapport Chapter 22 Recoiled Chapter 22 Reminiscent Chapter 19 Serene Chapter 32 Skittish Chapter 1 Submission Chapter 6 Sulked Chapter 17 Turmoil Chapter 18


ADVANCED Arrayed Ch. 4 Berth Ch. 29 Contemptuously Ch.3 Ebb Ch. 32 Hackles Ch. 20 Jauntily Ch. 1 Strewed Ch. 7 Unabashed Ch. 31 Beguiled Ch. 2 Consigned Ch. 8 Dubiously Ch. 30 Grudgingly Ch. 1 Heeded Ch. 1 Motley Ch. 18 Tinged Ch. 18 Veering Ch. 16



Accelerant Chapter 15 Aimlessly Chapter 27 Audible Chapter 14 Bestowed Chapter 32 Catastrophic Chapter 17 Cringed Chapter 15 Crooned Chapter 1 Ecstatic Chapter 17 Emerged Chapter 2 Emitted Chapter 4 Enhance Chapter 13 Excavated Chapter 13 Exerted Chapter 4 Fathom Chapter 28 Finality Chapter 17 Foraging Chapter 19 Fray Chapter 4 Immersed Chapter 18 Intertwined Chapter 14 Languid Chapter 9 Lingering Chapter 1 Malevolence Chapter 27 Methodically Chapter 5 Oppressive Chapter 4 Pelted Chapter 25 Plume Chapter 8 Rousing Chapter 7 Searing Chapter 4 Sprawled Chapter 18 Tentative Chapter 8


ADVANCED Ambled Ch. 28 Audacious Ch. 19

Circumnavigation Ch. 2 Distended Ch. 5 Emulated Ch. 10 Galvanized Ch. 14 Imminent Ch. 21 Laden Ch. 7 Placate Ch. 4 Tenuous Ch. 17 Fetid Ch. 20 Jounce Ch. 1 Intrusive Ch. 4 Melee Ch. 1 Splayed Ch. 8 Wafted Ch. 1



Assurance Chapter 23 Boggy Chapter 11 Brimming Chapter 28 Baying Chapter 29 Conferring Chapter 4 Daft Chapter 9 Dejectedly Chapter 14 Disconcerting Chapter 24 Disgorged Chapter 7 Disillusionment Chapter 5 Eased Chapter 22 Encasing Chapter 4 Exuberant Chapter 12 Feigned Chapter 9 Feverish Chapter 28 Gingerly Chapter 25 Hackles Chapter 20 Hilarity Chapter 25 Impending Chapter 32 Implications Chapter 5 Infraction Chapter 4 Laboriously Chapter 30 Loftily Chapter 23 Mystified Chapter 21 Oblivious Chapter 17 Perfunctory Chapter 19 Plaintive Chapter 8 Provocative Chapter 7 Procession Chapter 14 Rebuke Chapter 29 Riveted Chapter 28 Sated Chapter 28 Shards Chapter 12 Subserviently Chapter 3 Surging Chapter 11 Wistful Chapter 22


ADVANCED Adroitly Ch. 29 Disgorged Ch. 7 Grappling Ch. 22 Inexplicable Ch. 5 Luxuriated Ch. 31 Salving Ch. 14 Cordoned Ch. 15 Emanating Ch. 8 Ignominy Ch. 8 Inextricably Ch. 25 Redolent Ch. 28 Vestiges Ch. 6



As you read connections. Having students connect with a book in a personal way ensures an increased attentiveness and interest in the book, making reading the book less forced and more enjoyable. Books that are forcibly read often are given little real thought, and students may go through the literature without a clear understanding of what they have read. Students may have their own experiences to share with the classstories rich with details about the dogs in their lives which have made a difference. .

through the book with students, use these summaries to check for comprehension and personal


Chapters 1-10
CHAPTERS 1 5 1. What does the narrator name his brothers and sister? 2. How does the puppy know his mother is afraid of humans? 3. What can you predict will happen to Hungry? Why? 4. Why doesnt the puppy like the garbage truck? 5. How is the last sentence of chapter one an example of foreshadowing? 6. Can you guess the rescue workers ethnicity? What are your clues? 7. How does Tobys mother get out of the pen? 8. What is Sisters condition when she is brought to the Yard? Why do you think she is in such a condition? 9. Why is Toby put in a collar after surgery? 10. How is the hierarchy of dogs maintained in

the Yard? What dog challenges it? What is the result? 11. 12. What does Spike do to Toby? At the end of chapter four, what does Toby

say is his purpose?



How does the reader know Tobys fate at

the end of chapter four? 14. When Toby wakes, he says it is at once

strange and familiar. How is it strange and how is it familiar? 15. Why do you think the new man shows a

bland indifference to the puppies? 16.


How does the puppy escape? Why is Fella left in the truck? Why is Fellas time in the truck nearly fatal?



CHAPTERS 6 10 1. 2. What kind of dog is Fella now? What does the puppy consider to be the

most wonderful concept in the world? 3. 4. Who names the puppy? How does Bailey learn his place in the

family? 5. How does the author use foreshadowing in

chapter six? 6. Why is Bailey confused when the mother is

angry about the mess he makes in the garage? 7. How do you feel when you read the end of

chapter seven? Can you make any predictions about Todd and Bailey? 8. 9. 10. How would you describe Todd? How does Bailey get out of Todds house? One day, the noise from the bus is louder

than usual. What is happening on this day? 11. 12. 13. 14. What does Bailey like about the farm? Why is Bailey humiliated at the farm? How does Bailey get the nickname Doodle? How does Bailey learn the game he names

Rescue me and what makes him want to play it?


The author gives Bailey voice in these

chapters. How is humor used with Baileys exploits with Smokey?


Chapters 11-20
Chapter 11 1. How does Bailey support Ethan when Ethan

is afraid or sad? 2. When Ethan is left by himself at the farm,

he takes Flare out for a ride. Why does this confuse Bailey and what do you predict might happen on their adventure? 3. 4. 5. What causes Flare to scream? What does Ethan build with sticks? Why is Bailey worried about Ethan? What is

it about Ethans condition that alarms Bailey? 6. How does Bailey compare Ethan to his

brother, Hungry? 7. Chapter 12 1. 2. The farm is located in what state? How does Grandpa reward Bailey after How does Bailey help save Ethan?

Ethans rescue? 3. What do you think happened to

Marshmallow? What textual support do you have for your conclusions?



Why does Drake accuse Ethan of cheating in

the go-kart race? 5. How do the children stand up to Drake and

Todd? What might this suggest about the history of Drake and Todds relationship to the neighborhood kids? 6. Why does Todd throw a rock through

Ethans window?


Chapter 13 1. 2. Why does Bailey dig up Smokey? Why doesnt Ethan participate in the

childhood activities that he used to? Why would this be confusing to a dog?

How does Todd try to stir up trouble

between Hannah and Ethan? What do you think is his motivation for doing so? 4. Why does Bailey growl at Todd while Todd is

speaking to Hannah? 5. What do you think is wrong with the meat

that Bailey finds in his yard? Chapter 14 1. 2. What does Bailey think of Felix? How well does Bailey interpret the emotions

that human beings have? Give examples. 3. How does Bailey know that something is

wrong when he returns to his home after one of his night time adventures? 4. Chapter 15 1. What is Baileys least favorite command?

What prompts Bailey to attack Todd?

2. ball? 3.

What are Ethans injuries and how do you

think this will affect his aspirations to play college

Why do the police cut off some of Baileys

fur and stick it in a plastic bag? 4. 5. How is Bailey a hero? What happens to Todd?


Chapter 16 1. How has Felix and Baileys relationship

changed somewhat? 2. What is Ethans condition when he returns

from the hospital and how is his mood? 3. How would you describe the relationship

between Ethans mother and father? 4. When was the only time that Ethans leg

doesnt give him any pain? 5. Why does Ethan stay at the Farm instead of

returning home to go to school? 6. 7. What kind of job does Ethan get? At the end of chapter 16, Ethan has to leave

Bailey. Where is he going and how do you predict this will change their relationship? Chapter 17 1. At the beginning of chapter 17, Bailey feels

betrayed; why? 2. 3. What does Bailey dream about? When Ethan watches Hannah at track

practice, he is suddenly angry. His anger spills over into the conversation he has with Hannah. What is he angry about?



How do we know that the marriage between

Ethans mother and father is over? 5. 6. What is Baileys favorite time of day? Why? When Bailey gets sick, he can sense tension

from Ethans mother. Bailey seems to will himself to wait for something. What is happening to Bailey and what is he waiting for? 7. When Bailey is put to sleep, how does he

describe his letting go of life?


Chapter 18 1. Why is Bailey puzzled when he is born again

as a puppy? 2. 3. Why is Bailey astonished at his new gender? What kind of tests does Jakob perform on

the puppy? What do you think he is looking for? 4. What kind of dog is Bailey now and what is

his new name? 5. Ellie states, A dogs job was to do what

people wanted. How is this demonstrated in our lives today? Do people use dogs? Do people (in general) give anything to dogs?

How is obeying a command and having a

purpose different? 7. Why does Ellie feel there is something

broken inside of Jakob? How does this affect their relationship? 8. 9. What is Ellie being trained to do? Using context clues, can you guess what year

it is now? How much time has passed since Ethan was a boy? 10. Foreshadowing is used at the end of this

chapter. What do you think is happening based on the textual clues?


Chapter 19 1. Why would the police enlist the help of a

search dog to find an Alzheimer patient? 2. In chapter 19, the reader discovers the

reason for Jakobs sadness. What is it and how does Ellie respond to it? 3. How do we know that Ellie is now living in

California? What are the clues? 4. Why does Ellie become a front seat dog in

this chapter? What are they searching for?


Chapter 20 1. How does Ellie use her memories of being

Bailey to capture the bad man? 2. 3. What happens to Jakob? When Amy puts Ellie is the kennel, Ellie

thinks she has been a bad dog; why? 4. When Maya says that she would hate to let

Ellie down, we can predict what her relationship to Ellie may be. What is it?


Chapters 21 32
Chapter 21 1. Ellie has a vocabulary of words she

understands some from being the previous two dogs; some she has learned as a rescue dog. What are some words that she understands? 2. 3. What does Ellie think about cats? Describe Ellies life with Maya. How is it

different than what she has known? 4. Why doesnt Maya think she is good to

enough to work with Ellie? Chapter 22 1. What was the surprise Maya had for Ellie

and how does she react? 2. Why does Ellie feel conflicted when she is

visiting Jacob? 3. When Maya tells Jakob that receiving her

certification is too hard, Jakob responds with anger. What do we learn about Jakobs past and how does this motivate Maya? 4. How does Ellie know that she wont be

working with Jakob anymore? 5. Why does Ellie miss the boy more when she

is with Maya than when she was with Jakob?



When Maya takes Ellie to a disaster area, we

know from textual clues that an earthquake has taken place. What are these textual clues? 7. Why does Maya ask Vernon to play find

with Ellie after Ellie has found four bodies? 8. Ellie finds a woman who is alive, but in the

rescue, Ellie is hurt. How is she hurt and what do you predict will happen to her job as a result?

Chapter 24 1. What special event occurs at the beginning

of chapter 24 and how is Ellie involved? 2. Who is Alyssa and what is her relationship

to Ellie? 3. again? 4. Why is Ellie semi-retired and where does Why is Jakob different when Ellie sees him

Ellie and Maya give their presentations? 5. What happens to Geoffrey and how does

Ellie find him? Chapter 25 1. How does Ellie save Geoffrey and what

happens to her as a result?



When Ellie starts feeling the signs of aging,

she knows that she will be leaving Maya and the family soon. She reflects on her past lives, and what is her conclusion about how she has spent them? 3. Why does Ellie believe she has finally served

her purpose, and how does she think her other lives helped her accomplish her goals? 4. Why is the vets office so familiar to Ellie

and how does she feel armed with Mayas love at the end of her life? Chapter 26 1. Why is Ellie so surprised to be reborn as a

puppy again? 2. 3. 4. Why does Ellie feel like a bad dog? What emotion does Ellie feel from Derek? What kind of pet owner is Wendi? Why is

this confusing to the puppy? 5. How does Bear come to live with Wendis

mother? Do you think this will be a better relationship than living with Wendi? Why or why not? Chapter 27



Why does Bear think he may be forced to

bite Victor and why is the thought of attacking humans so abhorrent to the dog? 2. Who is kind to Bear when he lives with Lisa

and Victor? 3. 4. Why does Lisa get a fine for $50? What does Victor do to Bear and why does

Bear feel guilty and sad when he is left alone? 5. Why is the end of this chapter hopeful?

Chapter 28 1. How had playing Find all those years help

Bear decipher the clues about where he was? 2. Why does the dog feel adrift when he is

cut off from humans? 3. Why does the dog feel that his appearance

may resemble that of his first mother? What does he attribute this to? 4. Why does the dog feel drawn to the old man

who owns Leo? 5. What important discovery is made at the

dog park? 6. What does the dog mean when he says he

has returned to being a feral dog? Chapter 29



How does the dogs black fur help him from

capture? 2. Farm? 3. How is the passage of time evident when How does Jasper help Bailey find the

Bailey finds Ethan? Chapter 30 1. Why do you think Ethan changes his mind

about adopting out the black dog? 2. At first, the lady at the shelter is angry

with Ethan when he comes to claim the dog. What causes her to change her attitude? 3. How does the dog get his new name and what

does he discover when he searches Ethans home? Chapter 31 1. 2. Why is Ethan sad? How does Buddycompare Ethans sadness

to that of Jakobs? 3. What does Buddy think that Ethan needs?

Why is his reasoning somewhat flawed? 4. Why does Buddy go to the park without

Ethan? Do you think Buddy planned to find Carly, the dog who smelled like Hannah?



How does the dog use Find/Show to reunite

Hannah and Ethan? 6. Both Hannah and Ethans sadness is lifted by

the end of the chapter; why? Chapter 32 1. 2. 3. Why does Buddy think that Carly is stupid? How does life change for Ethan and Buddy? What does Buddy sense is wrong with

Ethan? 4. 5. Why is the flip important in this chapter? Do you think that Ethan knows that Buddy is

really Bailey? Why or why not? 6. 7. How does Bailey feel at the end? Do you think it is possible that dogs live

many lives? 8. Do humans need to have a purpose in life?

Why or why not?



Discussion How does mankind use dogs to

serve them? Think of all the different ways we use dogs, and what breeds we choose. Is it a coincidence that Ellie was a German Shepherd and Buddy was a black Lab? Is it a coincidence that Labradors are often used as guide dogs? Does Buddy guide Ethan to happiness?

Create a Time Line: Show the characters

names on the bottom and the dogs names on the top.


Character Analysis: Use a graphic organizer

to compare Ethan, Jakob, and Maya. How are their needs for a dog different? How are their needs similar?

Historical Influences: Create a T-Chart to

show the differences between a Feral dog and a Domesticated dog; how are they different? Research when and how dogs were domesticated.

Synthesis: Create a board game where the

objective is to get Bailey home. Devise a system for getting around the board and introduce the other characters into the game.

Schema: Brainstorm with a group of

students and create a graphic organizer that


explains the dangers a dog faces when released into the wild or unknown territory.


Grammar Connections
Writing with Adverbs Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They answer the questions where, when, how, and to what extent. They are commonly formed by adding ly to an adjective. Create adverbs from the following words taken from the novel: Subservient + ______ Submissive + ______ Contemptuous + _____ Laborious + _____ Instinctive + _____ Impassive + _____ Solemn + ______ Lethargic + _____ Languid + _____ Bleary + _____ Teaching Tip: To understand how affixes create new words, explain the use of derivational morphemes. Morphemes are units of meaning. An addition of ed to a verb will create a new verb because it will show tense. The use of ly or ily added to words will create adverbs. In the word unceremoniously there are several morphemes. See if your students can identify how many morphemes exist in this word and what the prefixes and suffixes mean. Demonstrate how the words they learn from this novel, such as furtive and haughty may be used as descriptors, but that creating adverbs from the same words, i.e. furtively and haughtily modify the actions of others; hence, they ADD to the VERB. (Adverbs)

Extending the Lesson

Adopt a Dog Shelter
There are dog shelters, dog rescue organizations, and dog charities virtually anywhere. Student involvement could include doing a fund raiser, volunteering at a shelter, attending a charity event, or even creating a dog rescue organization. The students could sponsor a dog as it moves through the stages of rescue, training, fostering, and successful adoption. Much of the inspiration for A Dogs Purpose came from personal involvement. The

Georgia Lee Cameron along the creek with her own rescued dog, Duchess

authors daughter, Georgia Lee Cameron, is a 28 year old woman living in Denver who realized that her passion for animal welfare and rescue was more than a hobby - it was a cause. In 2005 she collaborated with a dog trainer to start Nikenos Second Chances (NSC Rescue), an animal rescue organization specializing in training and education throughout the re-homing process. NSC is non-kill and strives to save as many adoptable dogs, cats and livestock from euthanasia as possible with their budget and space constraints. While they have funds to help with everyday care and emergencies, the ability to bring animals to proper health, have them altered, micro-chipped and vaccinated is the largest cost in the budget.


There are several animals that have been a part of NSC Rescue that would have been written off at other shelters. They take death-row transfers from kill-shelters, un-socialized strays that have never had human interaction and family pets that are now, for whatever reason, unwanted by their owners. They deal primarily with adult and elderly dogs because the greatest need is for services in those populations, but have not turned away puppies when they have been brought to the door. Cats and kittens have recently joined the ranks and in 2009 they accounted for over half of NSC's successful adoptions. While ideally NSC is just a brief stopping point for these animals before they find their forever home, some have been in the program from as little as a few days up to almost a year. Every adoptable animal deserves a second chance and NSC's mission is to help these pets achieve success. NSC works with local veterinarians to ensure that all are well taken care of. This includes vaccinating, micro-chipping and providing basic medical care. When necessary, extensive therapy for those that are sick or injured is also provided. All the animals in the program are spayed and neutered, and NSC will also provide long term assistance for special needs animals adopted through the shelter on a case by case basis. Additionally, because NSC has its roots in behavioral training, they are able to provide modification for problem animals through in-depth therapy rather than expensive medications. NSC primarily works with the local Colorado Front Range community; 45

however have accepted transfers from the surrounding states of Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas, as well the entire state of Colorado as a whole. NSC started as a response to the unfulfilled need for professional assistance during the dog adoption process. While numerous people are willing to adopt shelter animals, many times the combination of untrained dogs and unknowledgeable owners leads to returned or unwanted animals. By giving the dogs structured training throughout the adoption process, the chance of successful adoption is greatly increased. NSC provides the necessary tools for shelter dogs to lead positive, well-mannered lives in the homes they find themselves. They receive personalized behavioral modification from the moment they join the NSC program. This includes animals that are placed for private adoption, ones that are rescued from abusive situations or as strays, animals from municipal shelters that are on death-row, and also those that are placed in foster homes for more thorough training. NSC makes certain that after adoption the dogs adapt properly to their situations by requiring all prospective adoptive families to go through a personalized four week instruction program. This ensures that the animals are maintaining their training and that the owners are able to address any issues before they actually become problems. Educating the owner is as important as educating the animal. By providing a greater understanding of basic dog communication, NSC 46

eliminates the later issues often encountered by new owners. NSC provides the framework for these animals to be polite and behaved members of society. The new owners fulfill this task with help of NSCs guidance and schooling. Creating an animal rescue is both easy and difficult. Anyone can be an advocate of shelter animals and animal welfare. By offering to volunteer with local rescue agencies and fostering adoptable animals, people can get involved to the degree that best suits them. For those that want to take a step further, there are a few key steps that must be undertaken in order to properly run. The organization will need to be incorporated The organization will need to obtain insurance and a department of agriculture license in order to house any more animals than the legal limit. Successfully filing a 501 application is critical so that supporters can make tax deductible donations. From there the organization it will grow at the rate one puts work into it. NSC has grown substantially over the last several years, in part because of a few key volunteers and because of the foundation in training. The benefits are many one gets to rescue the animals one feels are worthy and to direct ones efforts where they are most needed. For more information on NSC Rescue - please see our website or email