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A Dog's Journey (2019) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • A dog finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he meets.


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The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • I. Bailey Bailey, an elderly St. Bernard/Australian shepherd mix, lives happily with his owner Ethan (Quaid) and his wife Hannah (Helgenberger), and their two year-old granddaughter Clarity June "CJ" (Emma Volk) and her mother Gloria (Giplin). Bailey, communicating with the audience via his thoughts, has a fondness for CJ. Gloria is shown to be an incompetent mother and have a hatred for dogs, as well as a dysfunctional relationship with her dead boyfriend, Henry's, parents (Hannah and Ethan), all leading her to eventually move out with CJ. Soon thereafter, Ethan discovers a lump in Bailey's stomach, and a veterinarian clinic deems he must be euthanized. Ethan holds Bailey lovingly and tells him to take care of CJ, before he is lethally injected. Bailey, now dead, is then seen running through a grassy field towards young CJ.

    II. Molly Bailey, who has been reincarnated as a female beagle named Molly, lives at an animal shelter. He sees a young boy named Trent (Ian Chen) and his family adopt his brother, Rocky. He also sees a young girl with him, who he recognizes is CJ, now nine years-old (Abby Ryder Forston). Bailey, remembering his promise to Ethan, runs outside to her. CJ, now living in an apartment with Gloria, takes Molly home with her and hides her from her mother. Gloria eventually sees Molly and reprimands CJ for getting a dog behind her back, but CJ persuades her mother to let her keep the dog given how neglected she feels.

    Over time, CJ and Molly grow increasingly close, along with Trent and Rocky. CJ, now a teenager (Prescott), reveals to Trent that she wants to drop out of high school and move to New York with her father's insurance settlement to pursue a career in music. While CJ is busy, Hannah and Ethan visit Gloria's home with a box of Henry's old belongings, wanting to see CJ. However, Gloria, still angry over their discord, closes the door on them, but not before Molly takes a liking to Ethan, and he recognizes her as Bailey and reminds him of his request to protect CJ.

    CJ befriends a bad boy named Shane, who Molly tries to protect her from. Shane invites her to a party, which gets busted by police for underage drinking; CJ is then sentenced to community service at a facility that teaches dogs how to diagnose cancer with their sense of smell, and Molly learns how to do this. Shane is revealed to be abusive towards CJ, and Gloria's nonchalant response and revelation that she has spent Henry's insurance settlement provokes her to leave with Molly. While driving, she discovers Shane is following her, and, in trying to avoid him, gets in an accident that kills Molly. Molly is then shown running through the same grassy field that Bailey was when he died.

    III. Big Dog Bailey, again reincarnated, this time as a mastiff named Big Dog, lives with his new owner, Joe, and is a guard dog at his gas station. Although he enjoys his new life, he misses CJ. One day, CJ, now a young adult, visits the convenience store, and Big Dog recognizes and engages with her. After she leaves, Big Dog lives the rest of his life missing Molly, and eventually dies. He is then shown running through the grassy field again.

    IV. Max Bailey, once again reincarnated, this time as a Yorkshire terrier named Max, is up for adoption during a public showing. He bites every person who shows interest in adopting him, until he sees CJ and chases her all the way to her apartment complex. CJ is reluctant to keep Max, but she learns that if Max isn't adopted by the next day, he will be sent to a pound. CJ, living with her boyfriend and working as a dog walker while building her music career on the side, adopts Max, who befriends her boyfriend's dog.

    Max eventually discovers that Trent, now a young adult (Lau), has moved into their apartment complex with his girlfriend (he also realizes that Rocky has since died). Max, sensing that CJ and Trent have feelings for each other, destroys CJ's relationship with her boyfriend, causing them to break up and for her to move out of his apartment and in with Trent. Soon after, Max remembers what he learned as Molly and informs CJ that he smells cancer on Trent. Max is revealed to be right, and Trent begins chemotherapy. His girlfriend eventually leaves him, leaving CJ as his primary caretaker. Eventually, Trent's doctor calls him and informs him that he is cancer-free, and CJ is visited by Gloria after not having seen her in years. She has warmed up to dogs and gives CJ some of the contents that were in Henry's box that Hannah and Ethan brought to her house during Molly's life, which are revealed to be letters that Henry wrote to Gloria while she was pregnant with CJ. These notes inspire CJ to write more songs and perform them in front of an audience, thus finally kicking off her musical career.

    CJ and Trent, now financially stable, travel with Max to Hannah and Ethan's farm, where they reunite for the first time since Gloria left during Bailey's life. Ethan realizes that Max is Bailey, as was Molly, and informs CJ that Bailey kept his promise and protected her. CJ realizes that Bailey has also brought her and Trent together and saved Trent's life, leading her to finally understand that Bailey, Molly, Big Dog, and Max are all the same dog.

    CJ and Trent embrace their love for each other, and eventually marry and have a child. Gloria also patches up her relationship with CJ, Hannah and Ethan, and Ethan dies with Max at his side. The movie ends with CJ praising Max, and all four lives Bailey has lived are seen running through the grassy field again, this time towards Ethan.

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