John Grogan - The Longest Trip Home


Marley Hops the Pond

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Two weekends ago, Catherine O'Brien, a reporter for The Times of London flew over from the UK to visit Jenny, the kids and me at our home in Pennsylvania. We had a grand time with her, and she gave me a brief tutorial in the World Cup. We both marveled at the many parallels in our lives -- kids, country homes, journalism careers, gardening passions -- despite living on different continents. Her story, which ran in The Times on Monday beneath the headline, "The dog with two tales" noted those similarities.

Catherine's story began this way:

There are 3,500 miles between John Grogan’s house and mine, but as he shakes my hand and leads me through the back door to his kitchen, I cannot help but be struck by some spooky parallels. For a few moments, it appears that no one else is in, but then I spy Colleen, his nine-year-old daughter, in the garden bouncing upon a giant trampoline (theirs is rectangular, ours is round). His two sons, it transpires, are in the darkened basement den, watching television, which is just where you would find my own boys when given free rein at 10am on a sunny Saturday. As the coffee brews, Jenny, John’s wife, makes a fleeting appearance to say hi and explains that she is off to the supermarket...

The United Kingdom version of Marley & Me debuts on July 3, and the Times sent Catherine over in anticipation of that release date. The package included the interview and a short excerpt (from Marley's al fresco dining experience). The article calls the book "a universal story of family life, and a publishing sensation."

To read the full story, you can follow this link:,,8802-2229413,00.html


Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy all of your letters, emails and postings on this website. Some I find achingly beautiful and heartfelt. This was one of them. I was so moved by it, I read it out loud to my daughter, Colleen, who said, "Aw, Dad, that's sooo sad. I feel bad for Bear and his mom and dad."

Here is that letter, from a woman named Teri who lives in the Philadelphia area and is a regular reader of my column in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

It may seem like masochism, but I had to revisit your January 2004 column in which you said your final goodby to Marley. I have been numb since Monday morning, when we had our beloved yellow lab, Bear, (a real Marley clone), put to sleep after almost 12 years of being our constant companion. It is if you have said everything that I already wanted to say. He looked and acted so much like Marley that after I read your book I could have sworn they were from the same litter.

Even after just two days without Bear. the ghost of our dear sweet lab still nips at my heels, his barks, softened and raspy with age still resonate in my ears. When I woke up the first night after we put him to sleep on Monday, my husband was downstairs, outside on the back porch, staring out into the yard. "Honey," I asked, "Why are you out here? It's 3 a.m.?" My husband replied, without looking at me, "I am letting Bear outside"...but I could see his tears in the dark shadow of the night

It is especially hard when we are alone in the house and my senses are still on alert as I can swear I feel Bear brush by my legs, hear his deep sigh as he would go to lie down or even smell his "doggy smell" which still lingers on his blanket, though I have washed it and neatly folded it beside his kennel.

A death has touched our hearts and our lives....a very different kind of void...a throbbing echo of hurt that will resonate in the walls of our home for a long time...A home that is a very quiet and sad place. God, I hope there is a doggy heaven...I really do....I surely can't imagine my life without petting that sweet guy again, kissing those velvety ears, or wrestling with him to release the 14th remote control that he destroyed or my my latest new pair of shoes. (he always knew when they were new!)

Sincerely, Teri R.

A beautiful farewell to your Bear, Teri. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

posted by John Grogan at 8:15 PM


Blogger CD said...

That one made me cry John.

It has been since February for us and although it has gotten easier, we still have our moments of "thoughts" and it all comes rushing back to you.

We cremated our little Alex. We felt that if we buried him in the backyard and we moved someday that we would be leaving him behind. So we have him in beautiful little walnut urn with a name plate and years. The urn came in a velvet bag when we picked him up that has a passage sewn into it. "Until we meet again at the rainbow bridge" and I certainly hope that is true.

I still carry him upstairs every night to our bedroom, and every morning I take him down and place him on the mantle. On his little walnut urn I place his "chicky", a small black/white ball, and a chew stick. Something for him to play with in heaven I hope.

I talk to him when I carry him up and down the stairs telling him how much I miss him and love him. When I get home from work in the evening, I always announce, "I am home little boy", hoping he can still hear me.

I miss him so very much.


5:45 AM  
Blogger una gata salvaje said...

I lost my yellow lab 2 years ago and it still hurts. Reading about marley reminded me exactly of what my dog went through. Everyone was crying.
My condolences for Bear. I know how much it hurts. :O(

9:16 AM  
Blogger Jessica Nieves said...

Oh my God, I shouldn't have read this during my lunch break- how incredibly sad. I completely feel for this couple and hope that this grief will subside for them and they can continue on, knowing that their pup is probably watching over them in doggie heaven!
God bless.

9:16 AM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

Hi! I am 2/3rds of the way through Marley and Me right now, but I can tell you that Marley has *already* hopped the pond and is being read and appreciated by the Brits--it was sent by me as a Father's Day gift to my Dad in England (Mum got her paws on it first) and is now being passed around the dog-loving population of their small village in Kent. They LOVE it!
I had a lovely conversation with my Dad yesterday about the cafe table scene, where he recounted how their Westie terrier, Freddie, dragged a lottery sign he had been tied to outside a shop right into
the place behind my Dad.

From a Brit transplanted to Michigan, owner of Yellow Bouncy Lab (Nora) with Marley-esque traits.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Donna Martin said...


I just finished the book today, I read it on my trip to Florida to visit my parents and on the way down, I was laughing uncontrollably, I actually had people turn around to make sure I was alright, and on the way back the tears were pouring. I recently had to put down my shepard/collie mix Sam- who was a member of our family for 13 years- and although the were different breeds I can relate to everything you went through with Marley. I miss my dog and am considering on another one, I feel there is a void in my life without a dog, with out Sam. Thank you for sharing your story.

5:04 PM  
Blogger mcamp81 said...

Oh God... that one hurt. We put Molly to sleep one week ago tonight. We left her doggy bed in her corner...and I have a feeling I'll be snuggling with her "babies" after I finish my work online.

Here's to hoping that the Rainbow Bridge really does exist.


5:35 PM  

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