Family Review: A DOG’S WAY HOME is Heartwarming, Lovely4 min read

By Trina Boice

Republished with permission from The Movie Review Mom


A Dog’s Way Home is based on the heartwarming novel by W. Bruce Cameron. There were quite a few things that were left out of the movie, but if you haven’t read the book, you certainly won’t miss them.  This feel-good drama is NOT a sequel to A Dog’s Purpose.  There actually will be a sequel to that film, but it hasn’t come out yet.

It’s not a unique story or movie, although it’s charming and family-friendly.  A guy’s dog gets lost and has many adventures while trying to return home.  We’ve seen this film before in the 1993 Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey and its sequel Homeward Bound Ii: Lost In San Francisco.  What makes this particular home-bound adventure different is the definition of families you see in the film.  If you’re a dog lover, you’ll probably cry.  If not, you’ll at least get a lump in your throat.

This movie hit theaters back in January, although very few people saw it.  It will now be available for streaming and on DVD on April 9, 2019.


If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve pretty much seen the movie.  Bella the dog is adorable. People who are afraid of pit bulls by reputation will probably look at them differently now.  It’s always fascinating to see how they can get animals to do the things they do in movies.  The dog’s commentary on things is cute. Bella is voiced by the talented Bryce Dallas Howard. Her famous father, Ron Howard, actually has a tiny cameo performance.  You’ll miss him if you blink.  He’s in the scene towards the end of the movie where Bella is trying to cross a freeway and people stop to get out of their cars to catch her and help her.  If you love dogs, you’ll be happy to know that the dog that played the adult version of Bella was a rescue dog that was found living in a junkyard in Tennessee.

The cast includes Ashley Judd and Barry Watson, as well as two Academy nominees: Edward James Olmos and Wes Studi, although they play very small roles.

You get to see some beautiful landscapes. The story is supposed to take place in Colorado, but it was actually filmed in British Columbia, Canada.  The wolves in the movie are called coy-wolves, which is a wolf-coyote hybrid.  The dog, cougar, and these coy-wolves definitely looked like they were CGI many times.

There is an aspect of the movie which might really drive you nuts.  When Lucas brings home Bella, his mom reminds him that their lease doesn’t allow pets.  They both completely ignore that fact.  How is that fair to the owner of the house or legal or ethical?  The movie takes place in Denver, where pit bulls are illegal, so Lucas and his mom were also breaking a city ordinance by keeping Bella.  What message does that send to our kids?  Yes, rescuing an animal is awesome, but breaking the law is not.


  • No profanity.
  • There is a gay couple.
  • A homeless man dies.
  • There are some sad moments.
  • You might have to explain to your kids what poachers are.
  • You might also have to talk to your kids about the Veterans Administration, why returning soldiers might need therapy and why they can be so sad.


There is a portrayal of pet-therapy for veterans, which has been growing in recent years.  Unless you’re allergic, pets can be a wonderful addition to your family.  You need to be able to provide them with a safe home and take care of their needs.  Children who watch this movie will want a pet dog, so you need to talk to them about all of the responsibilities that are required to own a pet.  The film encourages kindness to animals and spotlights the love between a pet and its owner.

Several comments in the movie talk about the breed discrimination that exists against pit bulls.  One girl even calls it racism for dogs.  Bella the dog demonstrates persistence and the importance of family.


Trina Boice is an author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho in the Pathway program.  She received the Young Mother of the Year honor in 2004, an award that completely amuses her 4 sons. She’s a popular international speaker in China and writes movie reviews at You can find her books on Amazon, and at

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