Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Dog, Ray review

I was fresh off of reading A Dog’s Purpose when I spotted one of new arrivals: The Dog, Ray. I’m a sucker for animal stories, especially dog stories.

It definitely has some similarities with W. Bruce Cameron’s book; both stories follow the philosophies that 1) dogs do have souls, not unlike humans and 2) souls inhabit bodies as long as the bodies are alive, and then they move onto a new body.

Twelve year old Daisy is killed in a car accident, and is surprised to find herself in processing center, which is like an employment agency. She is quickly reassigned to a new body and her instructions are to go down the hall and through the door on the right, and she realizes too late that she exited out the door on the left.

She finds herself in a new, canine body. She assumes that she will be able to track down her grieving parents, somehow communicate to them that she is indeed their beloved daughter, and live out the rest of her life comforting them. But of course, nothing is ever that simple.

The longer Daisy, renamed Ray, lives as a dog, the less she remembers about her former life. She wonders if souls are recycled all the time, if we’re supposed to remember our past lives or if it’s less painful to have it washed away in death, and begin each life anew.

Cameron’s book allowed me to indulge in the idea that my old dog, Jasmine, is alive somewhere in a new dog body, and that maybe she remembers me. Does she remember sledding in the winter? Does she remember all the car rides I took her on after I got my driver’s license? Does she think of me in that sliver of time before night ends and morning begins, when I’d reach my arm down and feel her sleeping next to my bed?  Linda Coggin’s book makes me wonder if that’s really ideal. Imagine how much pain we would all carry inside us if we remembered everything from several lifetimes.

I love books that are written for children that bring up topics of life and death and spirituality and the afterlife because not only do they inspire thoughts about those ideas, they validate our uncertainty, hope, and fear.

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