Friday, March 14, 2008

Marley & Me

Woodhouse had nailed our dog and our pathetic, codependent existence. We had it all: the hapless, weak-willed masters; the mentally unstable, out-of-control dog; the trail of destroyed property; the annoyed and inconvenienced strangers and neighbors. We were a textbook case. "Congratulations, Marley," I said to him. "You qualify as subnormal." He opened his eyes at the sound of his name, stretched, and rolled onto his back, paws in the air. (p.180)

Whether you are a dog lover or not, you will enjoy John Grogan's Marley & Me: life and love with the world's worst dog. I can see why so many people have recommended this book. I enjoyed it to the best of my ability as a non-dog lover and I even laughed out loud at some of Marley's antics. But as Grogan shows throughout his story, you just have to end up loving good ol' Marley despite himself.

Marley had earned his place in our family. Like a quirky but beloved uncle, he was what he was. He would never be Lassie or Benji or Old Yeller; he would never reach Westminster or even the county fair. We knew that now. We accepted him for the dog he was, and loved him all the more for it. (p.226)

My favorite recollections include the naming of Marley, getting a dog setter for a vacation, going to the dog beach, tobogganing on the first snowfall, and creating the potty room. Although the focus of this book revolves around the dog, much is also written about the changes that occur in the Grogan family while Marley is a part of their lives.

"You know all that stuff we've always said about you?" I whispered. "What a total pain you are? Don't believe it. Don't believe it for a minute, Marley." He needed to know that, and something more, too. There was something I had never told him, that no one ever had. I wanted him to hear it before he went. "Marley," I said. "You are a great dog." (p.271)

If you have ever known a dog like Marley (and I have) you will truly understand and appreciate John Grogan's book Marley & Me. It will make you laugh out loud and shake your head; then, you'll give a big ol' hug to the dog that is plopped on your lap and just put your legs to sleep.

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