Thursday, July 06, 2006

Marley & Me: It's A Great Dog Story.

I just finished reading Marley & Me by John Grogan. It's a great book for dog lovers, but while it's about dogs, it's also about the making of a family. It's a fast read, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

It made me a little melancholy, I felt like I was reading about our lab, Winston. We got him right after moving into our brand new house; new carpet, new furniture, new everything. After Winston came, nothing looked new anymore.

He was a broken dog--taken from his mother when he was way too young. We were young as well and didn't know enough to run away. Winston suffered terribly from separation anxiety; he too had a terrible fear of thunder. His fear morphed into a fear of rain eventually--and we live in Seattle!

We had an elaborate routine we established each time we left the house so that if there was thunder we wouldn't face destruction when we returned. Sometimes it didn't work. I once had to call our computer helpline to reorder equipment. There had been a storm and Winston had chewed through every cable and power cord on both the computer and printer. He was lucky that he didn’t electrocute himself. We got free replacements because the service rep told me it was the best story he’d heard yet.

Winston had ear infections. He had allergies. The vet tested him for 50 allergens—he was allergic to 48 of them. My husband gave him shots every week for ten years. We spent literally thousands of dollars on that “free” dog. I know that people thought we were nuts, freaks, weirdoes, for taking such efforts and caring so much about a troublesome animal. In later years we adopted a stray that came to stay. Maggie is a wonderful dog, sweet, well mannered, infinitely manageable. Winston loved her and we feel that she kept the life in him for a few more years.

In the end, Winnie (or Pooh, or The Pooster as we called him) had bad eyesight, bad hearing, bad hips, bad breath, and all the other things that advanced age brings. He shared our lives for 15 years--that's a long time for his breed. When we finally had to have him put down, we cried like babies. We still do from time to time, and it's been a couple years now.

We love our Maggie, but I don't think we'll ever have another dog that we love as much as that crazy lab. We have his ashes in a beautiful wooden box. It’s on a shelf with his collar, his picture, and his tags. I couldn’t bear to bury him in case we ever moved and I had to leave him behind.

I knew a woman who once had a dog she loved. When it died she said she’d never have another—she couldn’t take the pain of the loss. I know what she means, but what about the joy?


Blogger Ellen said...

Great post! Your title caught my eye because I'm reading another book that includes a dog named Marley, but he's a standard poodle. Good book so far though! My old border collie was scared to death of thunder and fireworks and would lay down in our inner bathroom, the only room in the house with no outdoor walls. My new dog stands outside with me watching fireworks and doesn't flinch. Could care less about loud sounds--but don't move too suddenly or wildly or she'll freak.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Wildside Musing said...

Thanks for sharing all this!

We're having some issues with our old cat... She's over 15 now. Looks like a kitten except for arthritis and ...and this other one... Problem been going on a few years now. She has bladder issues and it's no longer the stones but rather bladder control. For instance, last night she was napping on my husband's lap (her favorite pass-time) and became so relaxed she let loose. Quite a large bladder for such a small kitty. When this happens, it's so bad he has to change clothes. We have blankets and towels covering everything -- she is that leaky. And this means lots more laundry than otherwise (most every day -- good thing we're re-using our greywater for irrigation -- makes it seem not quite so wasteful).

She smells, it's inconvenient, and makes it difficult to have people over. I think she may have fell asleep in our closet last time guests were here and peed on a pile of clothes. This isn't something she does intentionally as she's very proud of her good manners and grooming. She's sometimes anxious that we may be upset as it upsets her perfect little world. She tells us when she needs a towel put under her if she sets down to sleep where there isn't one. No we're not upset -- we love her endlessly.

Oh, yes -- and she has bad allergies. But hubby does too so they commiserate.

Thanks for giving me a place to ramble on about it here. It's really not something you can go around telling people!

9:10 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Our cat, Sophie, had a problem like this, but hers was a territorial issue. It's a big, icky thing, because cats can really be smelly. You and your husband are saints for working with her. Not many people are willing to do so much. Our little kitty was with us for 15 years and was ?? old when we got her from the shelter. We have a habit of takig the animals no one else wants. I guess someone's got to do it!

3:59 PM  
Blogger Jewelielyn said...

this was a lovely tribute to a dog you loved. we are on dogs number 3 and 4, but each dog we have had has a special place in our hearts. we tried to go without a dog after losing our last one, but you are right--the years of joy are worth the pain of losing them. thank you for this wonderful posting! (i liked the book too, but haven't seen the movie . . . sometimes when i love a book, seeing the movie is not a good idea.)

7:52 PM  

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