Sunday, February 01, 2009

Marley & Me - life and love with the world's worst dog

I didn't like this book by John Grogan. At all. The only reason for me finishing it was that it was a very easy, notwithstanding disconcerting, read. I do not recommend it. Having made that clear I will graciously admit to bawling my eyes out in the end chapter. Anyone with a heart who have lost someone near and dear, furry and friendly, would do.

Moving on to some examples on why I didn't like the book. Some of the reasons to why the book is brimming with notes, annoyed exclamation as well as question marks -

1) The book is written in a very I-want-to-be-witty-and-funny-but-I'm-really-not-capable-of-it-but-if-I-was-this-is-probably-what-it-would-be-like. Yes I read it in Swedish, perhaps it was the translation, but still I wonder, can a translation be all that bad...

2) The whole book and the pale imitation of wittiness is built on the expense of the dog Marley and his, in parts, quirkiness.

3) I really, really, REALLY do not like people who think it's a great idea to get a dog or another pet so they can practise their parental skills on them before getting children. The hidden meaning being in case it turns out they suck on being caring, loving and responsible pet owners, they have at least not put that torment on a human being. All is then well.

4) I really, really, REALLY do not like people who seemingly get a dog or another pet without doing a thorough research, visit different breeders, dog shows, talk to other dog owners, talk to vets about the pros and cons of a certain breed and so forth. Flipping through a few pages of a dog book before getting a dog just doesn't do it. And since both the author and his wife is said to have had dogs of their own before and are journalists this lack of research is quite... appalling.

5) I find it very strange that one pays the whole sum for the dog pre-delivery and not a down payment and the rest at delivery date. And is it really customary in the US that the dog buyers do the naming, the paperwork and the pedigree registration? That sounds completely and utterly backwards to me.

6) I am so not interested in reading or hearing about people's all consuming attempts to get pregnant and all details pre-, during, after that. Page after page after page after ...

7) The book also shows an abundance of animal abuse, I was both amazed and chocked at many of the ways the family responded to Marley's behaviour and needs; what on earth makes one well educated person go out and buy pesticides when the dog has flees and tics, then wash and spray the dog and the house with this? Instead of calling the vet for advice and remedies for animals.

Even if the dog has an appetite for mangoes (or whatever the appetite is for) and there are mango trees in the garden it doesn't mean it's the good thing to let him feast on those as much as he likes since his bowls obviously don't approve.

The way they happily give a dog terrified for thunder a vast amount of tranquilizers, instead of working with the problem.

The tranquilizers also become means to get the dog mollified when he isn't as well behaved and calm as he *should be* when the second child is born in the family.

I'm not saying puppy or obedience classes always are the best way to raise a happy dog - definitely not, there are a whole bunch of self-declared experts out there as teachers who have a lot of weird ideas not applicable to every dog - but when one let things go so out of control that you have to let visitors knee the dog hard in the chest to let him know not to jump up I clearly question the sense of the owner.

Why does one let a clearly terrified of thunder dog that depends on tranquilizers to calm down in unexpected situations and unfamiliar surroundings travel alone in the cargo space in an airplane?

It's rather common knowledge that certain breeds might have inclination towards certain ailments, like problems with ears, eyes, hip joints and others. The latter is a fairly common problem for larger dogs, especially with old age. Still the 12 year old Marley is subject to the old age aches and pains without any mention of veterinary aid.

Despite his above mentioned problems with unfamiliar situations and surroundings he is also regularly put at a dog boarding house so the owners can go on holiday as well as work.

8) Labradors, as lovely as they might be with the right owners, in the right family, with other animals, are bred for hunting and like wise activities. To then act as a cat-sitter for a neighbour and bring that cat home to a dog that has no experience with cats sounds crazy. But why am I surprised since the writer thinks that cats go on autopilot and is nothing compared to a dog...

9) I'm sick of hearing the constant reminders all through the book of that no matter how much you love animals and your pets people are always and without a doubt more important and always come first.

This is what I think of "Marley & Me - life and love with the world's worst dog". The book that flaunts being a bestseller, plumes being acclaimed by both readers and critics. Clearly I object.

7 comments:

Heather said...

Perhaps a more fitting name - "life and love of a pretty regular dog with bad owners"?

Anonymous said...

I have not read this book, but many people refer to it as an excuse for their badly behaved dog. " oh it is like Marley..." Well, I have a dog that is very challenging, I adopted a challenge. Some dogs take a lot of energy, study and time to work with. My dog took a lot of time and professional trainers and alternative methods to result in a good canine citizen (still in training). I am not surprised that you did not like this book, dogs and all domesticated animals require a lot of work and most people treat them as accessories. Sorry for this long comment, but animals require a lot of understanding and time.

Titania said...

Pia, people like this make me sick. They haven't got a clue how to look after a dog, they are just so full of them selves and stupid...using insecticides and tranquillisers on a family pet. Utterly selfish and nasty people should not be allowed to keep a pet.

Pia K said...

Definitely, Heather, though I doubt it would sell as well...

Gosh, that's horrible, anonymous, though I kind of got that feeling at the end of the book with all the reactions the writer got from his article after Marley's death, what a good excuse to use...

All beings (dogs, humans whatever) have personalities and different needs, some need more work and patience than others and it's quite essential that they end up in the right environment, with folks that have a decent approach and the right attitude. This book just left me utterly sad. I'm glad you took your time to comment, anonymous, well said and much appreciated, good luck with your dog sure sounds like s/he has found a good place with you!

Pia K said...

Titania, I completely agree. It's so strange that they even decide to get an animal, clearly there are quite a few grey cells missing...

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Pia K said...

Glad you found it interesting, johnsilvosa, thanks for visiting!

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