A friend once likened his endearing black Lab to a child with diminished mental capacity. (He used more colourful terms, I’ll let you imagine it.) That is to say, Churchill, like many dogs, is very dependent and will not improve significantly with the years. I admired whole-heartedly his ability to balance school, a social life, and raising an energetic and needy puppy.
Once upon a time, I was a cat-person. That’s when I was dating a cat-person. Then it seemed to me that cat-people fell short on affability compared to dog-people. So I did an about-face when I was dating a dog-person. But I’m not really a dog-person and, most likely, not a pet-person at all. (Case in point, NPY is not what you call a pet-person.) Having a kiddie or two is about all the dependency I might ever be able to handle at once.
In order to gain more insight into raising a dog and a dog-family, and because it was greatly discounted at Chapters.ca, I picked up Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog. I started reading it during my flights this month and passed all non-movie-watching hours simply devouring the book.
Grogan describes the period in his life in West Palm Beach, Florida, when he and his new wife brought Marley into their home. His description of life in Florida, though it is not the focus, is so evocative I can feel the heavy heat and the sketchy neighbourhood they call home. I jokingly told MY that I’m reading the memoir of a dog, as written by his guardian, but more accurately it’s the memoir of a dog and his human family.
Though it’s non-fiction, I find myself having to “suspend my disbelief”. Why? Perhaps I’m jaded or not particularly empathetic but it feels like the author is running methodically through a checklist of “Necessary Milestones for Young Affluent Married Couple” to incorporate within the chapters. It feels somewhat like primetime family drama, specifically about an All-American Family of the New Millennium. Though I’m feeling it’s a big long cliche of sorts, the book is nonetheless an absorbing read.
While you’re often reminded that Marley is unusual and the holiest of terrors, the book gives me serious second thoughts about vouching to get even a smaller dog. Maybe this is my turning point and I can finally drop that idea that you’re living the perfect life only when you’re part of a J.Crew-clad Starbucks-toting yuppie couple and strolling hand-in-hand on a beach preceded by your friendly dog.