Thursday, August 03, 2006
Marley and Me - John Grogan [August/06]
I just finished this book. I am not a big crier, but man, this book made me cry. I was laying in bed, planning on going to sleep when I finished it, and Sandy (my dog) was laying beside my bed. I could have finished it at work, but since it was about the dogs life, I was scared how I would react as Marley started to near the end. You see, while I often call my dog a puppy, she is really a senior citizen. She just celebrated her tenth birthday, and in the last few years I have seen her slow down. It's a very painful process because she may not have been here my entire, but she has been here for a far amount of it. She started out as my father's dog, but he didn't buy her (yes, buy her, she's purebred) for the right reasons and when my parents divorced, I took the dog I could get. She was never meant to be mine, but she adopted me. She likes other members of the family, but I am who she greets at the door and it is my room she sleeps in every night. Reading this book and knowing her breed reminded me just how short my time left with her is.
When Sandy was a puppy, you could think of her as the worst dog in the world. She never seemed to adapt to discipline very well. Fetch is great, return she has never worked herself up to. When we are in the kitchen she gets so excited she falls down because she can't get purchase on the floor. She's always been a hyper dog. Finding her with her front paws on the counter is not a new or shocking thing. In the book the author discusses how Marley would always be found with something in his mouth and you would know by how he acted. That's Sandy. If you can't see the actual object, you can tell by the looks she is giving you, and then it is operation removal. If she walks by with a sock or something noticable in her mouth, though, she acts like it is the most natural thing in the world. Most people blame lost socks on the laundry, I just look at Sandy.
I think my friend felt bad for buying me this book because it has made me so sad afterwards, but I am glad he did. I'd like to hope that he has made more appreciative of the small moments. The hopeless attempts at playing baseball that turned into chase the dog around the yard, how she can get herself into the most impressive spots during a thunderstorm, how her butt shakes when we get through the "sit" process, and how more often than not when I tell her to sit she flops down quite dramatically in what people know as the "down" position. There are times when I am tripping over her that I wish she was not always under my feet, but you know, that is probably the first thing you miss. The fact that you can walk and not worry about an animal under your feet. I am going to cherish how I can't leave a room without a shadow, her inability to understand no, and the fact that the only two words I think she has ever retained in that brain of hers' is "cookie" and "walk".
Marley and Me is perfect for the dog lover, but it is also about life and how animals can touch you in amazing ways. There are a lot of great passages, and I bookmarked a couple that I would like to share:
"I had never thought of Marley as any kind of role model, but sitting there sipping my beer, I was aware that maybe he held the secret for a good life. Never slow down, never look back, live each day with adolescent verve and spunk and curiousity and playfulness. If you think you are a young pup, then maybe you are, no matter what the calendar says. Not a bad philosophy for life, though I'd take a pass on the part that involved vandalizing couches and laundry rooms" (page 189-190)
"Over the years we had become philosophical about the damage, which had become less frequent now that we were away from Florida's daily storm patterns. In a dog's life, some plaster would fall, some cushions would open, some rugs would shred. Like any relationship, this one had its costs. They were costs we came to accept and balance against the joy and amusement and protection and companionship he gave us. We could have bought a small yacht with what we spent on our dog and all the things he destroyed. Then again, how many yachts wait by the door all day for your return? How many live for the moment they can climb in your lap or ride down the hill with you on a toboggan, licking your face?" (page 226).
There are so many more, but you are just going to have to read the book for them. I strongly recommend this book. I see myself rereading this one many times.