Ethos Education

A Dog’s Purpose: What is the purpose of life?

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Assembly Objective:

  • What is the purpose of life? This assembly explores the theme of purpose and considers a biblical perspective.

Film:

  • A Dog’s Purpose (Entertainment One, 2017) certificate PG, click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • Mutual Respect and Tolerance: A Dog’s Purpose assumes the truth of reincarnation, a belief that is accepted in some religions but rejected by others. Gently addressing this difference enables pupils to respect different believers, even if one does not agree with their beliefs.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Spot the Dog: (Quiz)

  • Children have to correctly identify the breed of each dog and the purpose for which it was bred using slides 3-16 from the A Dog’s Purpose PowerPoint.

FILM CLIP 1

  • From A Dog’s Purpose (Entertainment One, 2017) certificate PG
    • Start time: 00:00:55 (The opening scene of the film.)
    • End time: 00:04:39 (Ethan’s mother says, ‘You poor, poor, thing.)
    • Clip length: 3 minutes and 44 seconds.
  • If you cannot play this clip from the DVD, instead say, ‘A Dog’s Purpose opens with a voice over asking some really big questions: What is the meaning of life? Why am I here?’ Soon, the viewer comes to understand that the voice belongs to a puppy. The puppy talks about getting older and having fun playing with other puppies and digging in the ground. He is now a young dog but a stray. He is captured by a dog warden and put to sleep. Fortunately, we don’t see him dying. The dog asks himself, ‘Is fun the purpose of life?’ Surprisingly, the dog is born again in the body of a different puppy on a puppy farm. When he grows bigger, he escapes but is captured by two workmen who intend to sell him. They leave him in their van on a very hot day. His only question now is: ‘Where can I get a drink?’ A mother and her son are walking past the van. They hear the dog crying and the mum smashes the window and saves the dog. They take him home to live with them and give him the name Bailey.’

FILM CLIP 2

  • From A Dog’s Purpose (Entertainment One, 2017) certificate PG
    • Start time: 01:30:06 (Buddy/Bailey approaches the grown-up Ethan with the flat football)
    • End time: 01:33:43 (The film ends.)
    • Clip length: 3 minutes and 37 seconds.
  • If you cannot play this clip from the DVD, instead say, ‘Bailey (in the body of Buddy) wants Ethan to know his true identity. He brings Ethan the old flat football they used to play with when Ethan was growing up. Ethan throws the ball for him a few times. He then challenges Buddy to do the trick he and Bailey used to do together when he was younger. Buddy performs the trick and, at last, Ethan recognises that Buddy is really Bailey. Both are overjoyed to be re-united. Ethan removes Bailey’s new collar and name tag saying Buddy and puts Bailey’s old collar on him. The film ends with Bailey saying what he has learnt about his purpose from his five lives.’

TALK

Scripted Talk

Download the A Dog’s Purpose PowerPoint for use with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Welcome, everyone. Our assembly this morning is based around the DVD A Dog’s Purpose. (Invite children to talk about their own dogs. Name? What breed? How old?)
  • [PowerPoint slide 2: optional]
    • (If you are a dog owner, talk about and show pictures of your own dog.) It seems that we have a lot of dog owners in this school which means that you will find it easy to identify the breeds of the dogs that I am going to show you. But as well as naming the different breeds of the dogs, I also want you to tell me what jobs these dogs were bred to do. Let me give you an easy one.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • (Show image of greyhound. Allow children the opportunity to identify its breed and the purpose of the breed.) Correct, this dog is a greyhound. Greyhounds were bred to run very fast in order to catch other animals that also run fast like rabbits and hares. Nowadays, greyhounds are mainly bred to race against each other on tracks where they chase a mechanical rabbit. Now you have identified the first dog and its purpose correctly, how many more will you get right? Let’s play the ‘Spot the Dog’ quiz.
  • [PowerPoint slides 3-16]
    • Spot the Dog Quiz.
  • [PowerPoint slide 17]
    • Well done, everyone, you really know your dogs. All the dogs featured in our quiz are pedigree dogs. These dogs have been bred by humans for a purpose, for example, to herd sheep or to keep people company. But not all dogs know their purpose. The dog featured in the film A Dog’s Purpose is one such dog. The film begins with him asking some very big questions.
    • Play clip 1 from A Dog’s Purpose (Entertainment One, 2017) certificate PG.
      • Start time: 00:00:55 (The opening scene of the film.)
      • End time: 00:04:39 (Ethan’s mother says, ‘You poor, poor, thing.)
      • Clip length: 3 minutes and 44 seconds.
    • If you cannot play this clip from the DVD, instead say, ‘A Dog’s Purpose opens with a voice over asking some really big questions: ‘What is the meaning of life?’ ‘Why am I here?’ Soon, the viewer comes to understand that the voice belongs to a puppy. The puppy talks about getting older and having fun playing with other puppies and digging in the ground. He is now a young dog but a stray. He is captured by a dog warden and put to sleep. Fortunately, we don’t see him dying. The dog asks himself, ‘Is fun the purpose of life?’ Surprisingly, the dog is born again in the body of a different puppy on a puppy farm. When he grows bigger, he escapes but is captured by two workmen who intend to sell him. They leave him in their van on a very hot day. His only question now is: ‘Where can I get a drink?’ A mother and her son are walking past the van. They hear the dog crying and the mum smashes the window and saves the dog. They take him home to live with them and give him the name Bailey.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 18]
    • At the very start of the film, the dog Bailey (for that’s what the boy calls him) asks some very big questions. What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? Is there a point to any of this? Humans have been asking themselves these questions for thousands of years and have come up with many different answers. From your RE lessons or from speaking to your parents or from watching TV, what answers do you know that have been given to these questions? Or how might you answer them for yourself? (Allow for discussion).
  • [PowerPoint slide 19]
    • Christianity teaches that humans have one life that is given to them by God. Hinduism, on the other hand, teaches that human beings and other living things are born and die and then are born again in a cycle that goes on forever. This is called reincarnation. Most Christians do not believe in reincarnation.
  • [PowerPoint slide 20]
    • In the film, A Dog’s Purpose, Bailey is not just reincarnated once but five times in total. In each of his lives he learns different things. In his fifth life, he manages to be re-united with Ethan, the boy who rescued him from the van in his second life. Ethan is now an old man. Bailey wants him to know that he is the same dog but in a different body.
    • Play clip 2 from A Dog’s Purpose (Entertainment One, 2017) certificate PG.
      • Start time: 01:30:06 (Buddy/Bailey approaches the grown-up Ethan with the flat football)
      • End time: 01:33:43 (The film ends.)
      • Clip length: 3 minutes and 37 seconds.
    • If you cannot play this clip from the DVD, instead say, ‘Bailey (in the body of Buddy) wants Ethan to know his true identity. He brings Ethan the old flat football they used to play with when Ethan was growing up. Ethan throws the ball for him a few times. He then challenges Buddy to do the trick he and Bailey used to do together when he was younger. Buddy performs the trick and, at last, Ethan recognises that Buddy is really Bailey. Both are overjoyed to be re-united. Ethan removes Bailey’s new collar and name tag saying Buddy and puts Bailey’s old collar on him. The film ends with Bailey saying what he has learnt about his purpose from his five lives.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 21]
    • Here is the list of things that Bailey learned about a dog’s purpose from his five lives. Which do you agree/disagree with? Do you think he might have missed something out? Do you think these might also apply to humans? Many Christians would agree with most of this list, except number three, of course. But for Christians there is something (or someone) missing from this list and that is the person who created humans and dogs and all other animals – God. The Bible records an episode when Jesus was asked what was the most important rule to lead a good life.
  • [PowerPoint slide 22]
    • Mark 12:30-31: This is what he said, ‘Love the Lord your God. Love him with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ Then he added, ‘The second most important command is this: ‘‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’’ These two commands are the most important commands.”’ For many Christians, these two rules form the purpose of their life – to love God and to love those around them. What do you think of such a purpose? Do you think it is better or worse than Bailey’s claim that the purpose of life is to ‘be here now’? What would you consider to be the purpose of your life?

Headings and Bullets

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Welcome.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2 (optional)]
    • Images of presenter’s dog.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Image of Greyhound.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Breed: Greyhound.
    • Purpose: To catch fast prey.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Image of Husky.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Breed: Husky
    • Purpose: To pull a sled.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Image of Pug.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Breed: Pug
    • Purpose: To be companions to Chinese kings and queens.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Image of Corgi.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • Breed: Corgi.
    • Purpose: To herd cattle.
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • Image of Golden Retriever.
  • [PowerPoint slide 12]
    • Breed: Golden Retriever.
    • Purpose: To retrieve animals shot by hunters.
  • [PowerPoint slide 13]
    • Image of St. Bernard.
  • [PowerPoint slide 14]
    • Breed: St. Bernard.
    • Purpose: To rescue people buried by avalanches.
  • [PowerPoint slide 15]
    • Image of Border Collie.
  • [PowerPoint slide 16]
    • Breed: Border Collie.
    • Purpose: To herd sheep.
  • [PowerPoint slide 17]
    • Play clip 1.
  • [PowerPoint slide 18]
    • Bailey’s big questions.
  • [PowerPoint slide 19]
    • An answer from Hinduism.
  • [PowerPoint slide 20]
    • Bailey’s five lives.
    • Play clip 2.
  • [PowerPoint slide 21]
    • Bailey’s life lessons.
  • [PowerPoint slide 22]
    • Mark 12:30-31.

Photo Copyright for A Dog’s Purpose PowerPoint: Slide 1 and 18 Universal Pictures / DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC and Walden Media, LLC. / Slide 2 Man and dog Pixabay.com, lady and dog Peter van der Sluijs / Slide 3 and 4 Freeimages.com / Slide 5 and 6 Freeimages.com / Slide 7 and 8 Freeimages.com, / Slide 9 and 10 Freeimages.com / Slide 11 and 12 Freeimages.com / Slide 13 and 14 Freeimages.com / Slide 15 and 16 Freeimages.com / Slide 17 Joe Lederer Universal Pictures / DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC and Walden Media, LLC / Slide 19 Freeimages.com / Slide 20 Joe Lederer Universal Pictures / DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC and Walden Media, LLC / Slide 21 Universal Pictures / Dreamworks II Distribution Co., LLC and Walden Media, LLC. / Slide 22 iStockphoto.com


RESPOND

Reflection

  • In what ways do Christians love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength?
  • What do you believe to be the purpose of your life?
  • Most Christians do not believe in reincarnation. What do you think happens after death?
  • In what ways do you think people differ from dogs and other animals? What makes us so different?
  • If you weren’t human, what animal would you like to be?
  • What qualities do you most admire in a dog?
  • What qualities do you most admire in a person?

Prayer

  • Dear God, we thank you for creating the world and everything in it, including dogs and all other animals. May we show our love for You in the way that we treat other people, other animals and our environment. May we learn to love ourselves in the same way that You love us. In the one life that You have given us, may we have lots of fun and learn to appreciate every precious moment. Amen.

YOU WILL NEED:

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