Marley's British Cousin
Monday, November 06, 2006
I suppose if there is a social good to come out of Marley & Me, it is the reassurance it gives other pet owners that their dogs really aren't that bad after all. I went through Marley's 13-year life thinking he was uniquely challenged -- truly the world's worst dog. But since then, I have heard from many, many Lab owners with frighteningly similar stories about their own dogs. The exuberance, the hyperactivity, the dense inability to concentrate or settle down. Those letters have helped me realize Marley wasn't nuts; he was just a high-spirited, wildly energetic Lab. In turn, my book seems to be offering context to dog owners around the world -- especially Lab owners -- who are at the ends of their ropes wtih incorrigible pooches. They read about Marley and realize things could be much worse. :)
This letter just came in from the United Kingdom from reader Sarah Cook, owner of a nutty chocolate Lab named (what else?) Marley, who has driven her to the brink:
In October 2005 my husband Nick and I, and our two sons Mason and Josh, visited a Lab breeder. We returned with a beautiful chocolate lab that we named Marley.
Our Marley is beautiful, loving, kind, devoted and you've guessed it, a hyperactive, shoe eating, passport chewing, toy-thieving, chaos-causing, liability!
This summer a friend bought me your book. At the time I was despairing, convinced that we had failed Marley, the dog we all adored, and wondering which way to turn. Your book made me laugh and cry, but more than that made me realise that we weren't the only ones to love an attention-deficit dog. It helped me to appreciate Marley's great points and also to retain my sense of humour when he ate a friend's passport (given to me for safekeeping), dove into a swimming pool full of kids (at a friends party) or stole my underwear out of the washing basket and came to the front door to greet the postman with my knickers on his head.
I am now reconciled to the fact that although Marley is growing up there are many bad habits he may never grow out of. He will probably continue to drive us mad, but without him our lives would be far poorer.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with your Marley, it is a very special book which has been read, reread and shared with our kids who loved it and laughed continually whilst hugging our Marley and telling him "see he's just like you." Marley & Me will always have a special place on my bookshelf (or at least it will until my Marley eats it or possibly the bookshelf!
Dear Sarah, I'm glad I could be there for you to show you that, indeed, you don't have the world's worst dog. I smile knowing your Marley is carrying on my Marley's life mission across the Atlantic Ocean.
posted by John Grogan at 2:33 PM