Monday, December 29, 2008

Put your paws up...

Marley and Me / John Grogan

It’s absolutely impossible for me to be objective about a book like this, so I’m not even going to try.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK! How’s that for a review?

Shame on me for just now reading it, considering that it’s been out for over three years. I decided to read it after seeing the theatrical trailer for the movie, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston…

I will see, own, and watch this movie over and over and over… guaranteed. I don't even care that it stars Owen Wilson and his crazy nose.

If you have even the slightest bit of softness in your heart for our canine companions, then this book is a must-read. Although Grogan sells this book as the story of the world’s worst dog, the sentiments found within are universal for anyone who has loved a dog, no matter how poorly behaved. Marley is a terror… an eater of furniture, a tugger of leashes, a menace to all who share his sidewalk, and yet he’s also one of his family’s greatest joys.

I was surprised at all of the experiences I had in common with Grogan and Marley. My late puppy, Beauregard (rest his soul), could never be called a bad dog, but he got into the same mischief and had the same dog-like problems as Marley, and we loved him despite all of it.

The beauty of owning a dog, or any pet for that matter, is the sense of perspective they provide. Many young people can credit their very mature attitudes about responsibility and empathy to a stint with a family pet, and many adults can view their pets as early crash courses in child-rearing. Even though the stakes aren’t quite so high when raising a dog, it’s easy to see how the experience translates into caring for an infant. Neither a dog nor an infant can say thank you, and yet we, as parents/owners continue cleaning, feeding, teaching, and loving.

The incredible adventure of keeping a living thing alive is at the center of Grogan’s book. The fact that Marley is such a challenging dog only seems to add to the mystery, rather than take away. Why does the author hang on to this bulldozer on four legs? Why does he tolerate the never-ending inconvenience, not to mention the property damage? How does Marley manage to infuriate him and endear himself to him at the same time (it’s a neat trick that all dogs seem to have)? The easy answer is because he loves the stupid animal, and honestly… who wouldn’t?

One thing this book did very well, enough to make me cry buckets, was express the idea that love has a weird way of erasing all the bad things and leaving only the good. No amount of scratched walls or busted windows or piles of poo can eclipse the years of companionship, entertainment, and comfort that Marley provides for the author and his family. Almost of all my memories of Beauregard are warm and fuzzy, and even the ones focused on his misbehavior - like the time he bit me (hard) while I tried to take a box of Cheez-nips away – tend to make me laugh, rather than inspire any negative feeling. To be honest, I’m hard pressed to think of any truly terrible moments. The only one that pops out is a mental image of my poor, victimized mother screaming to the heavens, “THIS IS WHY WE DON’T HAVE NICE THINGS!!!” Ok, that one makes me laugh, too (sorry, mom).

To summarize and conclude: I love dogs. I love this book. The End.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

And may I remind you about the time we came back for wausau and the dog shat in my room like ten times!
I loved him anyway! -C

Erin G said...

I haven't read it either, don't feel bad. But I am planning to, before I see the movie.

Reeva*Dubois said...

@ C (aka Li'l Sis) - yeah, I remember that too, but that isn't so much funny as much as a complete DISASTER! You also forgot to mention that you stepped in it. I'm glad you can laugh about it now, though ;-)

@ Erin, good call on reading the book first. I'm sure both will be great, but the book is almost always better, right?

Erin G said...

yep, except for mary poppins.

Reeva*Dubois said...

Well... Julie Andrews is an international treasure, after all.