As the member of the RunPee Family subjected to this
“family-friendly” horror-series of doggy deaths and near-deaths that I lovingly/dismissively term The Dog Trilogy, I thought I’d recount the ways that “Bailey” — the St Bernard mix that survives the end of A Dog’s Purpose — dies repeatedly in A Dog’s Journey. (This isn’t a spoiler, BTW: it’s the entire film’s premise, picking up right where A Dog’s Purpose ends off.)
Note: A Dog’s Way Home is part of this trilogy, but isn’t about Bailey — it’s considered part of a shared universe of the unbreakable bonds of love for dogs and their people.
Warning – Spoilers Ahead for A Dog’s Journey
I’ll start by saying I refuse to rewatch A Dog’s Purpose to list the very frequent and often gruesome deaths Bailey experiences there. Honestly, why anyone thought that was supposed to be uplifting and inspiring enough to make two more similarly-themed films mystifies me. But, as I wrote about them elsewhere (follow the links above), I won’t go into that.
Bear with me as I recount Bailey and his kinder, gentler deaths in A Dog’s Journey — the finale and cherry on the cake of this manipulatively sentimental/cathartic dog celluloid extravaganza.
How Often Does Bailey Die in A Dog’s Journey?
Well, only four times on this outing…with all indications the poor canine soul finally ends his long existence. At last he deserves to cross the Rainbow Bridge to live forever with his best friend Ethan.
- Bailey as Bailey, the St. Bernard Mix — Pleasingly, he lives a long life with his (now older) man Ethan, played by Dennis Quaid. He’s gently euthanized in Ethan’s arms after falling ill to (presumably) cancer. Unfortunately, he’s tasked with ‘saving’ granddaughter CJ, prompting a new series of reincarnations.
- Bailey as Molly, the Beagle. She dies in a harrowing car wreck as CJ, now a teenager, is rear-ended by a vicious ex-boyfriend.
- Bailey as Big Dog, the Mastiff-Mix. Not much time is spent with Big Dog, who peacefully wanders off to die in the woods, after a long and peaceful life in a rural countryside with Joe.
- Bailey as Max, the Yorkie. Max dies a natural death after a long and happy life with adult CJ. This ending is the best-case scenario we hope for with any beloved pet. It’s apparently the fulfillment of Bailey’s ‘purpose’ and ‘journey’.
Along the way, the dog is menaced by scary things like a horse-kicking, being put down in an overcrowded dog shelter, running alone in city streets and getting run over (but not hit), and most heart-wrenching: getting nearly strangled when his leash gets caught in an elevator going up. (That last one really had me panicking.)
But to be honest, this movie lets the audience off most easily of the three films. I only cried a few times, even though I was prepared, bringing tissues and a stern message to myself not to blubber.
Should you see this movie?
Sure, if you’re an adult and don’t mind a few tears. But think twice about taking the kids if they’re sensitive and love dogs. The canine poop humor won’t make up for the amount of trauma the film subjects them to. Read a lot of other reviews before sending them off alone with ticket money.
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)