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A Dog’s Way Home Movie Review: Some Friends Are Forever

In a heart-tugging adventure, a pet pup is determined to reunite with her owner.

Reviewed by on Jan 11, 2019
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Kidzworld took in A Dog’s Way Home. Will it make you reach for the tissues while also providing a joyful look at man’s best pal? Check our review.

By: Lynn Barker

In A Dog’s Way Home, a mixed-breed puppy named Bella (voice of Bryce Dallas Howard) attaches herself to Lucas (Jonah Howard-King), a young animal advocate who works at a VA hospital, when her pit bull mom is hauled away by animal control and the cats who have taken her in are threatened. Lucas and Bella bond as besties and Bella befriends Lucas’s girlfriend Olivia (Alexandra Shipp) and Lucas’s veteran mom Terri (Ashley Judd). When an evil land developer hates Lucas’s attempts to save cats under a building he wants to demolish, he hires an animal control officer to take Bella away. Seems that Denver has a law against pit bull (Staffordshire Terriers people) dogs. Bella and Lucas will be separated. Can Bella find her way home?

Lucas with girlfriend Olivia fall for baby BellaLucas with girlfriend Olivia fall for baby BellaCourtesy of Sony Pictures

A Dog's Way Home Trailer

Bella’s Early Life

Little puppy Bella lives with her mom, siblings and a bunch of cats under a falling down building. When animal control takes mom, siblings and many cats away, Bella is basically raised by “mother cat”. Animal advocate Lucas comes to feed those left and tries to protect them. Bella loves Lucas at first sight and he decides to take her home even though he and his veteran mom have a “no pet” rule in their apartment building. Bella grows up a happy dog. When the landlord is coming to fix a pipe, Lucas takes Bella to work where she bonds with vets at the VA hospital.

Bella befriends veterans at the hospitalBella befriends veterans at the hospitalCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Evil Developer

The land developer who owns the wrecked building where mom cat and the other cats live tries to tear it down on top of them but Lucas gets his demolition permit revoked so the developer gets his buddy the animal control guy to come after Bella as a “pit bull”, illegal in Denver. Lucas teaches Bella to “run home” if animal control comes after her. If she is inside a home, she can’t be grabbed but she gets outside, chases a squirrel and refuses to leave Lucas’s side so is taken to the pound. Lucas gets her out but must move out of the city of Denver to keep her.

Lucas and Bella have a special bondLucas and Bella have a special bondCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Moving 400 Miles Away

To keep her safe, Lucas has to temporarily move Bella in with Olivia’s aunt who lives in New Mexico, 400 miles away. Both man and dog are heartbroken. Bella realizes she should have done as Lucas taught her and “run home”. These new people are very nice but she must go to Lucas, go “home” so she escapes and ends up in the forest not knowing that Lucas has moved and is coming to get her! Trying to get through the woods, Bella meets new friends and enemies, travels through small towns where she is taken in by humans and mistreated by others. She befriends an orphan cougar cub, names it “Big Kitten” and the two continue her journey while becoming family. Some places could serve as a new “home” but Bella needs to get back to her human Lucas.

Bella with grown up Big KittenBella with grown up Big KittenCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Long Journey

Bella befriends another dog named Duke and, together they find Duke’s owner who has been buried in an avalanche. The gay couple who take the dogs in until the owner recovers, loves them and would make a great family. When the owner rejects the dogs, the couple would keep them but again, Bella runs away to get home to Lucas. In a town, she is claimed by homeless veteran Axel (Edward James Olmos) who is kind but lives an awful outdoor life. When he dies, Bella, chained to him, almost does too until two kids set her free.

Alone and hungry in the city is no funAlone and hungry in the city is no funCourtesy of Sony Pictures


Bella encounters more adventures, some pleasant, some sad until she finally makes it “home” but someone else lives there now. Can she ever find her human Lucas? Two years have gone by. Will it be too late for them?

Lucas and mom protect BellaLucas and mom protect BellaCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Wrapping Up

Based on a novel, A Dog’s Way Home is adventurous and fun but sometimes quite sad.  Although it has a happy ending (come on…you knew it must), young kids might be upset during the sadder scenes. There is a great animal actor playing Bella and Bryce Dallas Howard does a very emotional and involving job of voicing her. To its credit, the film highlights some shortcomings in our society; the treatment of the homeless and the pointless and cruel anti-Pit-Bull rules that evidently some cities have. We see both kindness to pets and the evil enacted against them.

Shelby who plays Bella with Bryce Dallas HowardShelby who plays Bella with Bryce Dallas HowardCourtesy of Sony Pictures

The “bad guy” animal control fellow is very over-the-top and expecting us to believe that a housing project would be held up just because stray cats live under a house that would otherwise be demolished, is sadly unrealistic.

Bella looks for Big KittenBella looks for Big KittenCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Although the “Big Kitten” character is very charming, it is often too obvious that she is a CGI creation not a real cougar.

Lucas thinks puppy Bella is a keeperLucas thinks puppy Bella is a keeperCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Overall, however, if you love dogs (or cats) you will be sucked into watching every moment of Bella’s struggle to get back to the human she loves. We loved Bryce as Bella’s voice, enjoyed the humor and got involved in the sometimes harrowing adventure so we give the movie four stars.

A Dog's Way Home Movie Rating: 4

A Dog's Way Home PosterA Dog's Way Home PosterCourtesy of Sony Pictures

See A Dog's Way Home in theaters now!

How Do You Feel?

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