Anyone who has ever enjoyed the companionship of a pet will likely relate to some of the episodes described in this non-fiction book. The author started writing a month after his beloved Labrador retriever, Marley, died at the age of thirteen. John Grogan is a columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer and often worked Marley stories into his column. When his dog died he wrote about that too and said in an interview, “The day the column ran, nearly 800 Inquirer readers emailed or called. A typical day might bring 30 to 50 responses. That's when I knew I had a bigger story to tell.” Obviously other people could relate.
Marley was not just the worst dog, but also the best. The only predicatable thing about Marley was his unpredictability. John and Jenny Grogan decided to get a puppy not long after they were married – figuring that a dog would give them some idea what parenthood would be like. Of course the puppy grew up to be close to one hundred pounds of a constantly moving, pulling and running blur who would tear up the house in a terrified frenzy every time a thunderstorm hit. Living in Florida, the thunderstorm capital of the world, did not help John and Jenny’s furniture, sofa cushions, woodwork and just about anything else within reach become victims of Marley’s thunder phobia.
When the couple decided the time was right, they had their first child and in Marley’s world, the baby fit right in. Apparently dirty diapers were a special treat and Mr. Grogan describes the expression of pure heaven on Marley’s face whenever he came into contact with the diaper pail.
Marley did go to school to learn better manners and John was thrilled when Marley actually came 7th in his class (out of a class of 8) and was not expelled as he had been on their first attempt at training. John’s hopes for better behaviour were not even dampened when Marley happily ate his graduation certificate.
I very much enjoyed reading about Marley’s antics, but the story dragged a bit for me whenever it delved deeper into the author’s life. I was not so interested in that! I suppose I just couldn’t relate to this man but I could relate to having a dog like Marley. Mine was a black lab named Coal who once greeted me at the door once with her tail wagging and my long and very sharp bread knife sticking out of her mouth. At least she had hold of the handle part! I’m happy to report that after I was able to figure out how to get it away from her, there were no injuries.