Friday, April 3, 2009

Thoughts About "Marley & Me" and Other Commentary

Last night my oldest son had a bit of a melt down. He was tired and still hungry, but I wasn't allowing him to eat an after dinner snack because he had not eaten all his dinner. You know the drill. Anyway, after he went to bed and he quieted down from his drama, I leaned up close to him as he laid quietly in bed and right away he said, "Mom, we really need a dog."

He is right, we really do need a dog. We told him when he turned eight we would look into getting a dog, but at the time we lived in a house with very little back yard. Then we moved into a fixer upper house when my son was nine and we spent all our time on making the place livable. Now he is ten and we have been slammed with the effects of an economic slump and our money is tight. My son really wants a companion and I think he is finally at the age he could take the responsibility of a dog - so my husband and I agreed that we would fix the fence in the back and see what we could do to get a dog sometime this year.

When the movie, "Marley & Me," came out in the movie theaters, it came highly recommend by friends. It was out in the movie theaters for a long time so one afternoon when Asher and I found each other at home, we decided to go see the movie on a whim. Now, first of all, others had brought there 9/10 year old to go see it, but I highly recommend that the child be at least 13 even though it is only rated PG. Too many discussion of sex and conceiving babies and all. You get the picture. (By the way, the movie just came out on DVD on March 31, 2009.)

Anyway, I wouldn't claim myself as a "Dog Lover" because frankly I am not so comfortable around dogs, but I absolutely enjoyed this movie. The movie is such a reflection on how a family is birthed. Two people love each other, get married, buy a dog, work through mishaps, have a baby, give up a career, have another baby, buy another house, have yet another baby, get another job and move across country. I loved it because it was just so real life! They talked about issues my husband I have conversed on. I enjoyed the movie so much I went and checked out the book at the library and Asher found the "junior" version and read along with me (although he finished it in less than a week).

Now the book is very different than the movie, which is no surprise, but I like the movie better! The book is more for those "Dog Lovers" out there as he talks about the details of doggy obedience, and pooping, and the stages of Marley's death. It was too much detail for me. I related to the movie and the talk about family more.

I have one dog story to add: When I was a freshman in high school I bought a cocker spaniel. She was not that well behaved, or trained to do any tricks, but she became such a good friend and comforted me through the lonely times of, well, high school. When I went away to college my parents couldn't take care of her so I was to find a new home for my dog. A girlfriend said she would take her and I was thrilled. Chammie, my dog named after the color of her fur, champagne, took to my friend, Jill, immediately. About a month later I went over to see my friend and my former dog and was completely deflated when Chammie did not recognize me. She followed around my friend, Jill, just like she had followed me around. It was a sad day for me and I never went over to visit my friend nor my dog again.

I will leave you with the last page of the book, Marley & Me, which is also the closing words of the movie as well.

After Marley's death, John Grogan, the author, wanted to pay tribute to his dog in his column and it took him some soul searching to finally come up with the words.

"Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things - a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty."

"A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbols mean nothing to him. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class, but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not."

What a great reminder to us all in this busy life we lead, we often loose perspective and do not give the importance of the people around us. If we cancel on this party with my good friend, she will understand, if I don't call her, she will understand, if I keep working and trying to provide for my family and make a perfect house, well everyone will understand. Well, maybe they will understand, but then life slips us by and then we are in a position wishing we had spent more time with the people we love - and learning to love them unconditionally.

Has a pet taught you something unexpected? What have you learned from your life with or without a family pet in your life? Have any dog recommendations for our family with a son who has allergies. Please share with us your stories.


  1. Personally I was never a dog/animal lover until I was asked to babysit my friends border collie for weeks at a time while her family vactioned. I absolutely grew to love their dog and realized that dogs really do have personalities. Their dog always wanted to sleep next to me at night, sit next to me when I was on the couch and always wanted to play 'fetch the ball'. Based on my love for my friends dog, I now hope to have a dog someday - when the time is right.

    Also - I loved the movie 'Marley and Me'.

  2. I loved just how "real" the movie was to real life issues. I think you guys should get a dog, but not a "clearance puppy" ...ahh too much headaches and too costly :)

  3. My favorite part of the movie was when his owner was telling of all the things Marley did in a weeks time: On Monday, we went to the ball park and Marley stole a guys hot dog and was on the field when they scored a home run. On Tuesday, we went out to dinner, we tied Marley to a table, he saw a poodle he ran after it, the table went with him, we paid for our drinks and left. On Wednesday, he attacked the mail guy the next hour later he attacked the UPS guy, and so on.

  4. There have only been a few years of my life when I didn't have at least one dog. During those years I lived as a dog owner vicariously through my family and friends who did have them! Life without a dog is not a full and happy life for me. So yes! Get a dog. Research breeds for temperament, hypo allergism (is that a word?)exercise and grooming needs and possible special needs. There are good dog encyclopedias in the book store, and I'm sure many sources online. I think getting a puppy is the best bet for creating a life long bond, rather than adopting an adult dog. Rescuing is great but IMHO not the best idea for first time dog owners. You can never be sure of the dog's backgroud and the outcome can be unpredictable.

  5. Being a dog lover, I agree that you should get a dog for your family. I don't think you'll be sorry. Claire is the same age as Asher and she is great with her dog, Bailey (a lab and a wonderful dog). We want to get her a pug puppy sometime this summer as that is what she's always wanted...something small to snuggle up with and carry around. Dogs will love you unconditionally, keep you in shape if you walk them regularly and provide some comic relief in the process. We laugh almost each night as Bailey flips over on her back and does this crazy scratching with her legs up in the air. As for a good dog for someone who has allergies I've been told that dogs that don't shed are the best - ie. Poodles, Bichon, etc. Thanks for your wonderful blog this week. It makes me want to go out and rent the movie as I haven't seen it yet. Is it sad?

  6. I don't have the slightest interest in getting another dog after the grief of losing my cocker...we have a cute darling guinea pig though. Dogs are great kiddo companions and I had many growing up ...lots of good memories. I do think it will be a great idea for your son!!

  7. We just got our 1st dog last week and it has been a trying week, but I hear that is normal. She is a 1 year old lab mix that was owned by neighbors that didn't have time for her. She's a beautiful, sweet dog and the kids are having a blast with her. I think being a pet owner is good for kids to teach them responsibility, kindness and compassion. I would highly recommend reading "Cesar's Way" by Cesar Millan from the Dog Whisperer show. There is some amazing insight into the mind of a dog. As far as allergies, poodles, shitzus, bichon's, and english sheepdogs are good. We all have horrible allergies, though, and haven't had any problems with Chloe, so try to spend some time with different dogs, even though they might not be "hypoallergenic"! I would not recommend a puppy if you are hesitant at all about the amount of work. Puppies require ALOT of time and training. Our lives were too busy for that. Our dog is about 1 year old and she has bonded with us wonderfully in only 1 week, so I think if you look for a dog that is still young, but maybe already housetrained, it can work.

  8. Thanks so much for all your great advice! My husband and I talked and we think we'll try and get a dog this summer when we have a little more time to spend with him/her. Julie, I hadn't even thought about avoiding getting a puppy and finding a young dog. sounds as if you have done your research. For not being much of an animal lover, I am actually really looking forward to our new adventure!

  9. Good luck Sharon! I think dogs are especially great for little boys! My son kept trying to "play" with our cats like dogs & it just doesn't work! :) I think you will enjoy it! Just be prepared for that first week or two and don't get discouraged when it seems totally crazy! They do settle in. Our Chloe is really starting to calm down. She's wonderful!

  10. I finally just saw the movie. :) Stayed away from it because I thought it was one of those "Talking dog" movies, like Beethoven. Blech! But i'm so glad I saw it... Real-life happens. And it was fun to peek into a family who does real-life, ups and downs, twists and turns, and still remembers to love each other!

    Loved your thoughts on the movie/book. And I think it's super special that you and Asher read a book together! So cool!