All those who adore dogs for their unconditional love, their playfulness, their exploration of the world of smells, their fondness for food and other treats, and their casual appreciation of sex will want to see this jaunty film based on a bestselling novel of the same title by W. Bruce Cameron.

Take along plenty of tissues to wipe away your tears and be prepared to weep as the first little puppy to arrive in a litter is deemed not adoptable and is euthanized (off screen). But this lucky fellow is soon reincarnated for another journey. He has some weighty questions: "What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a purpose?"

This frisky and friendly golden retriever is adopted by a family and named Bailey (voiced for all incarnations by Josh Gad). He becomes an unending source of joy and delight for Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) whose days are filled with romping and devising enchantments beside his beloved dog. As a teen (K. J. Apa) he falls in love with a girl (Britt Robertson) one summer who shares his affection for his animal companion.

Lasse Hallstrom directs this family film that is emotionally involving from start to finish. We watch how the humans are taught to be truly present in their lives by Bailey and the other dogs who succeed him. The dogs, in turn, express their appreciation by demonstrating boundless love and loyalty. Kindness is reciprocal in these relationships.

In addition to young Ethan, the other adult companions are a Chicago K9 officer (John Ortiz) whose courageous German shepherd teaches him about tenderness ; a lonely African-American student (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) who shares her addiction to food with her corgi; and adult Ethan (Dennis Quaid), who offers shelter to an abused and abandoned dog.

After enjoying A Dog's Purpose, make sure you go directly home and give your dog a nice long belly rub. While on earth, these wise and wonderful animal companions deserve all the perks they can get.