Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Marley and Me by John Grogan

Just in case there’s someone out there who doesn’t know what this book is about, it’s about John Grogan and the World’s Worst Dog. Marley is an overgrown lap dog who knows nothing but happiness and possibly a little angst at thunderstorms, but who doesn’t realize that the whole world does not share his happiness with life or his exuberance, or his fear of thunder. Marley goes through life learning little and destroying lots, which delivers a good, quick read, but makes me glad he wasn’t mine.

The movie, in case you have seen it, has absolutely nothing to do with the book and if I were Grogan, I’d be a bit miffed at their portrayal of him and his wife. He’s probably miffed all the way to the bank, but that’s beside the point. The book is much, much better than the movie.

It took me two tries to get through this. I had a hard time reading the beginning of the story because I could see all the mistakes Grogan was making, which seemed fairly elemental to me. I’m also not fond of people locking their dogs in other rooms at night since a dog is a pack animal and to force a dog to be on his own without the pack is one of the worst things you can do to a dog. I had a hard time with that bit. Once I finally got over it (and Grogan did too), it was a pleasant, amusing read. It only took me a few hours to get through the whole book. The last 50 pages or so called for a lot of Kleenex because you knew what was coming long before it got there and having just gone through the same a few months ago, I found it terribly sad.

Even though a lot of people argue, probably quite rightly, that Grogan was himself to blame for many of the problems, I have to hand it to the man, and his family, for sticking to Marley. Most people would have dumped a dog like Marley in the pound after the first few months, but Grogan kept at it, and although he was never the perfect dog, Marley did get better. What didn’t improve became tolerated and the family kept the dog, and for this alone, Grogan deserves a round of applause. There are so many people out there who don’t know anything about dogs, but go out and get one anyway, spend the first few months effectively ruining the dog by thinking oh we can’t possibly scold this cute little puppy and then dump it on the pound or someone else when the problems start. The “let someone else fix my mistakes” attitude with animals bugs me to death.

I also have to admit having owned a dog who did similar, but on a much smaller scale, things myself. He was that way when I got him at a year and a half and I was never able to cure him of it. No matter how much exercise he got, he still ate jackets, candles, yarn, cleaning fluid and once a bottle of calcium tablets he must have fought to get to (apparently he just chewed and didn’t swallow because he suffered no ill effects) when I was at work. Even once or twice when he somehow forgot I was at home, and after I’d taken him for a 2 hour walk, I caught him sidling up to a candle with that come hither look. He knew he shouldn’t do it, he hid before I ever opened the door because he knew he was going to be in trouble, but he couldn’t stop himself. I loved that dog, but I could have killed him 20 times over. Just when I was about to clear a room of everything but his bed so he couldn’t possibly get at anything while I was at work, he got bone cancer and the end came quickly. So in a way, I can truly sympathize with Grogan, even though a lot of it was probably down to him. Prevention is always better than the cure.

For sheer entertainment and perseverance on the part of the Grogans, I rate this one 5 out of

1 comment:

Jeane said...

I liked the book but I agree with you about the owner. If I were him, I would have given up on that dog long ago! (although I might have made more effort to train him, too)