Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Marley and Me (copy)

We were mere newlyweds in 1991 when we strolled into the Memphis Humane Society’s shelter for animals. Eager to start a family, we first intended to raise healthy, happy pets. The goal that day was a puppy, one who would fit well into our current family. A family already ruled by one cat.

We never made it past the entrance into the cages. Located on a table in the hall we caught the eye of one black hairy fuzz ball. The tail wiggling so pronounced we watched as the wire cage worked its way to the edge of the table. What an eager greeting and we hadn’t even been introduced yet. Keeper!

A more experienced dog owner might have continued past the black flurry of motion for a calmer more bumbling pup. A wiser person would recognize this behavior might not be the “peaceable kingdom” we foresaw. If we had known this energy ball would eventually redecorate our whole home with one feathery tail, being three parts Labrador and one part Springer, well…

Marley and Me by James Grogain is an outstanding book for dog lovers. People tend to place their beloved dogs in the category of sainthood once they pass. Grogain is no exception with his memories of childhood Saint Shaun, the dog who could do no wrong. Then he obtains Marley, the Labrador whose, “default setting was stuck on eternal incorrigibility.”

Marley maintains the same tail gyrating infliction that our puppy produced. In Marley’s case it is called the Marley Mambo and he is particularly active when trying to engulf a “not on the menu” item. Author Grogain goes into hilarious detail on the loss of a new 18K necklace from point of digestion to elimination.

Marley and Me is a surprise bestseller, number two on the New York Times list, and steady. Who knew the “world’s worst dog” would be held in such high esteem? This is not the idealized dogs of Willie Morris’ My Dog Skip or Jack London, but a down and dirty, roll in the stench, mistake-laden mess.

This book makes a perfect read-aloud for children and/or elderly parents. The book presents a great opportunity for dog owners all over America to reflect on “man’s best friend.” We all really had a dog more like Marley than Lassie, sometimes it is just hard to admit.

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