Friday, January 2, 2009

Marley & Me (live action movie)

I went to see Marley & Me with some friends yesterday. I hadn't read the book, and all I knew about the story was that it involved "the worst dog in the world." Only one person out of the four of us had any idea how the movie would end, and that person didn't bother to warn us, darn her.

If she had warned us, I would've known to bring tissues - if you haven't already guessed, Marley dies (if you think I've ruined it for you, I dare you not to cry at the movie, even with some forewarning). I've gone to movie theaters before and teared up a bit, but I've never had to work as hard as I did last night to keep from flat-out bawling. I almost got up and left the theater so I could sob in peace in the bathroom or something. Maybe my reaction was due to my family's 5-year-old dog dying suddenly only 3 months ago, or one of my family's cats having to be put to sleep only a few months before that, but I think I would've been in bad shape even if that hadn't been the case. I've loved too many pets over the years not to be affected by this movie.

I think the part that hit me the most was near the end, just before Marley was put to sleep. John Grogan is with Marley, admitting that he's called him "the worst dog in the world," but then saying that that's not really true - it can't be true, because, no matter what's happened over the years, Marley has always loved his family. Pets will sometimes do things you don't want them to do (my boys recently chewed a hole in my last non-holey pair of jeans), but that doesn't make them bad - you still love them, and they still love you, and you hope that when it's time for them to go that it's as easy and peaceful for them as possible.

When Grogan and his wife first get Marley, they nickname him Clearance Puppy, because he was the cheapest puppy in the litter. I chuckled when that bit came up, but I had forgotten about it until it was brought up again at Marley's burial. It's funny, really - so many people will pay a ton a money just to get a certain breed of animal, or a certain individual from a litter, but if all you want is a companion none of that necessarily matters. When I first got my rat girls, Harley and Trina, the breeder I bought them from told me she had to warn me about something. The first thing that popped into my mind was horrible potential medical issues. It turned out that what she wanted to warn me about was that, because she'd never bred these two rats together before, she had no idea what my girls would look like as they got older and their fur color changed a bit. Because of this unknown, she sold the rats of this litter for less than she normally would - so I guess they were my Clearance Rats. Well, like Marley, they were sweeties until the end.

My read-alikes only scratch the surface - however, the book Marley & Me has gotten enough attention that it's not hard at all to find more read-alikes on the Internet. The Thunder Bay Public Library has a good list (annotated even!), as does the Lincoln City Libraries (not annotated, unfortunately).

  • Amazing Gracie: A Dog's Tale (non-fiction book) by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff - Dan, sad over the loss of his last dog and unhappy with his job, takes home Gracie, a deaf and partially blind albino Great Dane puppy. The book shows how, over the next 10 years, Dan's relationship with Gracie changes his life and inspires him to do work that he actually enjoys.
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (non-fiction book) by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter - Myron, director of the Spencer Public Library, looks in the library's book drop one January morning to discover a tiny, shivering kitten. The library staff, patrons, and townspeople help the kitten recover and thrive, at he becomes "Dewey Readmore Books," the library's mascot. The book tells the story of Dewey and Myron, and what Dewey did for the library and the town.
  • Clara: The Early Years: The Story of the Pug Who Ruled My Life (non-fiction book) by Margo Kaufman - Kaufman knew after her first meeting with Clara that she was a bit different. Clara knew whose needs should be catered to - her own, of course - and the book hilariously describes how Clara came to rule Kaufman's household and steal the show at book tours. There's some conflict when Kaufman and her husband decide to adopt a child, but things work out in the end.

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