And the commercial for the Marley & Me movie catches my interest, because I sis-love Jennifer Anniston and wish she were my BFF, and although I had resisted reading the book until that very moment, I decide it's exactly what I need to read.
So I buy it.
And as I read it, I realize it's as much the story of a family as of a dog. Luckily the family seems much more functional than the dog, because dude, that dog would have lasted about five minutes in my house. Who has time or patience to deal with a four-legged, tail-whipping, tornado of destruction?
Sorry, I just lied in the previous paragraph, about that five minutes thing.
Because although our dog, Buffy the Wonder Dog, has been gone from us for over 10 years, her memory lingers long -- longer than her smell did in the garage -- and I do her a disservice to say I would not have tolerated a Marley when I did, indeed, tolerate a Buffy, for 14 years. Fourteen loooooonnnnngggg years.
Buffy was a lifelong puppy, a cute and cuddly cockapoo who didn't know a stranger, full of energy 'til her end, tolerant of small children and unfailingly loyal to her family.
In other words, Buffy was hard to control, needed an expensive haircut every four weeks, was useless as a watch dog, asked endlessly to be taken outside, ate everything the kids didn't, and, after sneaking out of the house to roll in any pile of dog poop she could find, came home a happy conquerer, tail wagging.
Buffy developed epilepsy in her first year, which necessitated her being on medication. Which she needed twice a day. Carefully spaced. Without fail. From a prescription. That I needed to get filled. At the drugstore. Every month. For thirteen years. A prescription written in her name. Buffy Dog Dee. If we took a trip, if we just had a long day, if I had a full schedule that made it hard to get to the drugstore ... didn't matter. Buffy's medication had to be given, and/or I had to make one more stop. Which I did. For. Thirteen. Years.
Later in life, Buffy developed another condition that necessitated medication--incontinence. The good news, the pills only had to be given twice a week. The bad news, they were more expensive than the epilepsy meds. The good news, the pills worked pretty well. The bad news, who needs their dog peeing everywhere? Which is why she needed them in the first place.
She also developed a strange skin condition of knotty cysty things on her body, including one on her tail. They didn't hurt, they weren't malignant, they just ... looked like hell. So we had them taken off. Let's just say that one cost ... hundreds. That operation made the haircuts seem reasonable.
So why do people like us keep a poop-rolling, snack-eating, haircut-needing, medically challenged dog?
For one: she was ours. She loved us, so she was worth it.
And the other: she was Tony's little sibling--the one he could boss around, feel bigger than, baby. She was the youngest child's little sister. She cheerfully took the rough-housing, the bossing, the love. And Tony learned how to love someone weaker, littler, and even more ornery than him.
Worth a few dog-poop baths.
Even eternal puppies get old, and by the time the kids were young teenagers, Buffy was a senior citizen. Her heart grew feeble, as did she, and one fall day it was evident to all that Buffy had done her job as trainer of children. Her long-time vet helped ease her into whatever next world dogs go to--truthfully, he shed more tears than I did.
The years of haircuts, medication and clean-up had rendered me a little less grief-stricken than perhaps I should have been.
Which brings me back to Marley. Who, I should have guessed, dies at the end of the book.
And here comes the difference between Marley's family & me.
It seems the Grogan family had not had enough. Soon after Marley's departure, they adopted a new puppy. Brave, foolish souls.
Me, on the other hand, had had more than enough. Buffy the Wonder Dog did me in forever for dogs. No more dogs for us. Nope. Lesson learned.
Emphasis on dogs there.
Don't even get me started about the cat(s).