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Here Are All the Ways the Dog Dies—and Almost Dies—in A Dog’s Journey

A dog stands up with his paws on Dennis Quaid’s shoulders in a field that contains gravestones.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Amblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures and vyasphoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

If you saw A Dog’s Purpose two years ago, then you already have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into with the movie’s new sequel: the corny dialogue, the contrived plot, the butt-clenching sense of dread …

Oh, what’s that? You thought A Dog’s Purpose was supposed to be an uplifting, family-friendly adventure, not a horror movie? Allow me to refresh your memory, then. The premise of A Dog’s Purpose is that a dog named Bailey is reincarnated over and over, in an endless cycle of suffering, while trying to figure out his reason for living. Inspiring? Perhaps. But this dog also dies so many times over the course of those two hours—from old age, euthanasia, even a gunshot wound—that dog lovers in the audience can only live in fear of what will kill Bailey next.

This vicious cycle continues into A Dog’s Journey, where this time Bailey’s mission is to protect CJ, the perpetually imperiled granddaughter of his most beloved owner from the first movie, Ethan. This proves just as harrowing as the events of the original, so if you’re going to subject yourself to this, you may want to read up on all the ways that Bailey dies (or very nearly dies), so you can be sure you’re up for every agonizing moment.

All the Ways the Dog Dies

1. The first dog, a St. Bernard/Australian shepherd mix named Bailey, is the same dog who survived the end of A Dog’s Purpose. He is euthanized in the barn by a vet after Ethan finds a lump on his belly.

2. The second dog, a beagle named Molly, dies after CJ’s no-good ex-boyfriend runs her car off the road, causing it to flip over. There’s no blood, but Molly doesn’t exactly die instantly, either.

3. The third dog, a droopy mastiff named Big Dog, wanders into a patch of forest to die of old age out of the sight of his owner, Joe.

4. The fourth dog, a Biewer Yorkshire terrier named Max, dies of natural causes surrounded by his loving family, finally having fulfilled his purpose.

Near-Death Experiences That the Dog Survives

1. Bailey (the St. Bernard/Australian shepherd mix) is almost kicked by an ornery horse.

2. A wheezing voice-over warns that when CJ hugs Molly (the beagle), she squeezes a little too tight, which had me worried that the dog might suffocate in her overeager owner’s arms.

3. When teenage CJ is arrested at a party where alcohol is being served, Molly gets sent to doggy jail, and I was paranoid that she might be euthanized as a result.

4. Big Dog (the mastiff) runs into the street to chase after CJ’s car. Thankfully, it’s an empty street.

5. Max (the Yorkie) easily has the most near-death experiences in the movie. The first is when he races into a busy New York City street while chasing CJ and a truck drives right over him—but he’s so small that the vehicle clears him, with Max passing narrowly between the tires.

6. Max rushes into an elevator, where his leash gets caught in the doors as the elevator begins ascending, nearly strangling him.

7. A dog rescue worker tells CJ that Max is scheduled to be euthanized the next day if he’s not adopted.

8. Max is part of a gang of dogs that are so much larger than he is I feared one might step on him.

9. Max develops a mysterious itch on his leg, which, given the earlier belly lump, was ominous enough to make the lady in the seat in front of me say, “Uh-oh.”