Archive for Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dog’s life retold tops summer reading list

June 15, 2006

Recently, I finished a great book that truly celebrates the human-animal bond. The book, "Marley and Me" by John Grogan, is a heartwarming tale of the love affair of a pet dog and his master and family.

I thought the book was so good and inspiring, I decided you animal lovers out there in Readerville would enjoy it as much as I. The story is a real, true-life adventure that recounts the author's life with the pet from puppyhood to the final days as an old worn-down dog.

In the beginning, the Grogans -- newlywed and carefree -- decide they need a companion. After thorough research, they settle on a Labrador retriever pup. The yellow Lab eventually grows to be a 97-pound monster, who has his own set of nuisances.

The author weaves the story through the love-hate relationship developments from Marley (who was named for the reggae musician Bob Marley) and the couple. The dog is one disaster after another, never quite getting out of puppyhood.

Many of you, as have I, have had dogs like that. Marley is even expelled from obedience school, as he is another disaster when in public.

For anyone, raising a headstrong puppy to adulthood is a trying experience. Many give up and relinquish the adolescent dog to the pound, further complicating the poor dog's maturation.

One thing is consistent throughout this wonderful story -- the Grogans never gave up on Marley, even when he destroys their home because of his on-again, off-again storm phobia. Even when sedatives prove less than effective, John and his wife somehow rationalize one more reprieve for Marley.

As the years go by, Marley begins to slow down as arthritis and chronic ear infections take their toll. He has a bout with death, suffering from gastric torsion (twisted stomach with bloat) but survives.

In the end, John Grogan is faced with the inevitable decision to put Marley down. After having his veterinarian do so, he brings Marley home to his Pennsylvania farm for burial. Surrounded by his wife and kids, they pay tribute to the beloved old hound.

In the final chapter, Grogan reflects on the way Marley touched their lives and taught them important life lessons, if sometimes in the loopiest ways.

He writes, "A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me to live each day with unbridled exuberance and joy about seizing the moment and following your heart and to appreciate the simple things. As he aged, he taught me to face adversity with optimism, and, most of all, he taught me about friendship and selflessness, and unwavering loyalty."

Needless to say, I shed a few tears at the end of the wonderful literary work. Reading "Marley and Me" gave me pause to look at each client and patient who grace my doorstep in a different and more compassionate light.

I don't usually do book reviews, but if you love dogs, or any pet for that matter, I highly recommend the book. It will captivate you.

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