Tuesday, August 28, 2007
As an animal lover in general and a dog lover specifically, I have no idea why I waited so long to read Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan (304 pgs, William Morrow). Maybe because it's non-fiction, which is a genre I've written off for years as "boring". Or maybe because I have 2 of the "world's worst dogs" myself, and I didn't think I would find anything unusual about this book. But signing up for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge has given me a new perspective on this genre. I'm truly glad I read this one!
John and Jenny Grogan were newlyweds starting their new life together in Florida. Both wrote for local newspapers and everything was good. Then one day, John came home to find Jenny pouring through the classifieds looking for a dog. She had just killed her house plant, and was feeling down. She wanted to prove to both herself and John that she was capable of caring for someone other than herself, knowing that one day, they would want to have children. And what would be a great place to start, but with a dog??
Enter Marley: a little, yellow Labrador, that was fun and full of spunk. Named after the Reggae singer, Marley was anything but mellow. With a fear of thunderstorms and a knack for eating just about anything in sight, Marley brought more drama into their lives than they ever thought possible. All at once, they had this ball of energy and unpredictableness in their home!! After trying to train him themselves, the Grogans decided that Obedience School was the way to go. But Marley had other ideas.
"All the other dogs were sitting placidly beside their masters, at tidy ten-foot intervals, awaiting further instructions. Jenny was fighting valiantly to plant her feet and bring Marley to a halt, but he lumbered on unimpeded, tugging her across the parking lot in pursuit of hot-poodle butt-sniffing action. My wife looked amazingly like a water-skier being towed behind a powerboat. Everyone stared. Someone snickered. I covered my eyes. Marley wasn't one for formal introductions. He crashed into the poodle and immediately crammed his nose between her legs. I imagined it was the canine male's way of asking, "So, do you come here often?"'
Marley was indeed expelled from Obedience school! And that was just for starters. He made his own doggie-door by barrelling through the screen door. He ingested a gold necklace, paychecks, and many other Grogan family items. He destroyed more shoes than imaginable. But when it came to family, Marley was the best. After a horrible miscarriage, John and Jenny finally had their first child. They were a little leery of what Marley might think, but he handled it with style:
"As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, Marley came to accept Patrick as his new best friend. One night early on, as I was turning off the lights to go to bed, I couldn't find Marley anywhere. Finally I thought to look in the nursery, and there he was stretched out on the floor beside Patrick's crib, the two of them snoring away in stereophonic fraternal bliss. Marley, our wild crashing bronco was different around Patrick. He seemed to understand that this was a fragile, defenseless little human, and he moved gingerly whenever he was near him, licking his face and ears delicately. He was a gentle giant around Patrick, and he accepted his second-fiddle status with bonhomie and good-natured resignation."
Marley was never mean-spirited. But when a neighbor was attacked, and danger was in the air, Marley was there: "When I looked up, there he stood, ten feet from us, facing the street, in a determined bull-like crouch I had never seen before. It was a fighter's stance. His muscles bulged at the neck; his jaw was clinched; the fur behind his shoulder blades bristled. He was intensely focused on the street and appeared poised to lunge. I realized in that instant Jenny had been right. If the armed assailant returned, he would have to get past my dog first. I knew -- I absolutely knew without a doubt -- that Marley would fight him to the death before he would let him at us."
I absolutely loved this book! Having a 3 year old St. Bernard, I know all about pain-in-the-ass dogs! But I also know the love that a person can have for a pet, and just how loyal they can be. This love radiates from Grogan's book. It shows just how special this dog was.....a dog that many had written off as bad and untrainable. Through it all, Marley was there. He indeed was a member of the family. I laughed at his antics, and I had tears rolling down my cheeks at the end. If you have ever had a pet that was special to you, please read this book! 5/5
Also reviewed by:
Melody @ Melody's Reading Corner