The Mongolian legend, in its simplest context refers to a "prepared" dog who may be reincarnated in it next life as a human.
Enzo, a lab terrier in Garth Stein's novel, "The Art of Racing in the Rain" believes in this legend. In so doing, he is motivated to hone his humanness. He believes that this type of journey will allow him to make sense out of the good, the bad and the unthinkable actions of man.
Inspiration for the novel and subsequent 2019 movie came after Stein viewed the 1998 Mongolian documentary 'State of Dogs,' and then later in 2004, when he listened to poet Billy Collins delivering the poem "The Revenant" told from a dog's point of view.
Named after Enzo Ferrari, founder of the iconic Italian automobile of the same name, Enzo searched for the meaning of humanness by consistently examining his owner Denny Swift's greatest passion -- race car driving. He relates that pursuit to the meaning of life.
The Mongolian Legend
According to the novelist Garth Stein, "In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog’s master whispers into the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life.
Then his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat or fat is placed in his mouth to sustain his soul on its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like.
I learned that from a program on the National Geographic channel, so I believe it is true," asserted Stein.
Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready.
I am ready,” noted Enzo in the book and the movie.
Based on the best-selling novel by Garth Stein, 'The Art of Racing in the Rain' is a heartfelt rendition of the book, narrated by that witty and philosophical dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner).
With a strong paternal bond with his owner, Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), an aspiring Formula One race car driver, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition and understands that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life. The film follows Denny and the loves of his life - his wife, Eve (Amanda Seyfried), their young daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), and ultimately, his true best friend, Enzo.
In the end, Enzo will tug at your 'dog-loving' heart strings. Admittedly, a tad sappy, the book and movie are surprisingly not totally predictable. While sending a 10-pound gut punch to its viewers, it delivers a philosophy that will make you ponder and wonder, long after your leave the theater.
So for those readers, who have seen the previews, please comment below and let us know if our four-legged friend Enzo enlightened you as he did me?
Primary Source: Garth Stein Bio