Oceana2602's Reviews > Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog

Marley and Me by John Grogan
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Feb 01, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: 2006, dogs, english, male-writers
Recommended for: dog owners
Read in June, 2006

** spoiler alert ** This is one of the handful of books I have read where I have read the ending first. See, Marley and Me is a book about a dog. And books about dogs, especially the ones written by men, usually end with the dog dying. They describe the whole life of the dog, make me fall in love with it, and then it dies. So, after I had fallen in love with Marley the dog, I decided to read about his death first, and then read about the rest of his life, leaving him at a point where he is still young and healthy and I could imagine a happy end for him.

Other than that, this book is entertaining, but it's a particular kind of entertainment only dog owners can fully appreciate. Because I really doubt people who don't have dogs will want to read about fleas, or dog puke, or drool dripping off everywhere. Marley, of course, isn't the worst dog, and this is the part where I got angry. See, where I live, no one would ever have the idea that a dog would be happy with the backyard and could be left alone all day in the garage. People frown upon that kind of behaviour here, even people who don't own dogs. Dogs are commitment, they need walks, at least three times a day, ideally more, they need someone to be with them at least half the day, and they need contact with other dogs. So, if I read about Marley's "dog poo bombs" in the backyard, I don't feel sorry at all. My own dog would never even pee in our garden. There is no reason for a dog to pee in his own territory unless there is no other place they can go to.

And if I read about Marley being untrainable and having to be calmed with sedatives, I see a poor Labrador, whom nobody ever tried to train properly, who doesn't know what to do with his energy because he is only taken for walks every couple of days, who never really had the chance to play with other dogs.

But what made me even more angry was that the author in the book becomes a father, and they leave Marley with the little babies. He has the audacity to make a smart remark about people who warn against leaving your dog with a baby, because "the wild animal could surface every minute and the dog could kill the baby in seconds". Which Marley would never do,because "everyone can see that he protects the baby."
*bangs head against wall*

See, he is right about that. I believe that most normal dogs will protect a baby that they consider part of the family. Even strange babies, because they see them as puppies, and normal, sane dogs don't hurt puppies. What they do with puppies however, is that they teach them not to totally misbehave. And they do that by taking the baby's whole head into their mouth and shaking it gently. I've seen my dog do that with puppies, and apart from being wet from dog-spit, the puppy was impressed, but not hurt. Some dogs will also take the puppy by the neck and shake it a little bit, or gently put their mouth over the exposed neck of the puppy to show them how such misbehaviour would end if they weren't so small.

All these methods have one thing in common: if applied to a human baby, they end up in serious injuries.

So I can not stress it enough: NEVER leave your kids alone with a dog. NEVER. It's up to you to know when your kids are old enough to understand what to do and what not to do with a dog, but hair-pulling or nose hitting or anything else that babies do out of curiosity can lead even the most patient dog to teach your baby some manners. You cannot fault the dog for this, because it only reacts like a normal dog would react. But if you read up on "formerly harmless pets" hurting babies "out of the blue", you will see that it's mostly head injuries, and that all those poor dogs are being put to sleep because their owners thought it was cute how they took care of the baby. Those owners should be shot and never allowed to have kids (or dogs) again.

Where were we? Oh, the book. Well, I liked Marley, but I think that people who have a dog for 13 years and still don't know the first thing about dogs, shouldn't be allowed to write books about them. Let alone get a new dog.
17 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Marley and Me.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

04/22 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Shelly T That is a stupid thing to do...is it not the same with everyone and everything in life... you love them and then they die???

Oceana2602 Sabrina wrote: "I don't really understand some of the things here. First of all, the author stated he took Marley for a walk at least every morning, if not more. That's way more than most dog owners do so I commen..."

See, the way Marley is kept is a very American way to keep dogs. Taking a dog for a walk for every bathroom break is actually normal where I live. It's considered something a dog needs, like interaction with other dogs, a social life, a place within it's own family. A territory. My dog gets taken on walks at least four times a day. I know no one who would consider getting a dog if they don't have time to walk it at least three times a day, one time being a long walk of at least an hour. I also know no one who'd consider their own garden as the dog's bathroom, and trust me, I know lots of dog people.

So, maybe, and I really don't mean to be offensive, maybe if you are interested in dogs, try to get some expert opinions on what a dog needs? Because I really feel sorry for all those dogs if people think that keeping a dog like it is kept in the book is normal.

Thanks for reading the review and taking the time to comment on it, even if we disagree on the book (and how to keep dogs...)

message 3: by Anthea (new)

Anthea Johnstone Oceana2602 - I couldn't agree more. 'Marley and me' was one of the saddest books I've read in a long time. John Grogan seemed to know not the first thing about how to meet a dog's physical, mental and emotional needs. The warning bells started ringing as early as when he proudly described his puppy-selection tactic: throwing himself loudly at a cage of 6-week old puppies to see which one didn't cower! I have fostered young puppies for an animal rescue organisation and gone through the nail-biting process of vetting future owners. If one of them had frightened the puppies in that way, I would have thrown them off the property. (What happened to responsible socialisation and building a dog's confidence?) And that was just the beginning of poor Marley's rather sad life. After that he had being locked up in a garage for hours each day to look forward to, and when that was no longer feasible, a cage! At least it wasn't all in vain - he's probably made his owner rich. Other dog owners: this book presents a poor example of dog ownership - do your research with qualified authorities when looking for guidance on how to treat your dog.

Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship As an American, I have to say there's no real "American" way to keep dogs. There are people similar to the reviewer, who think it's irresponsible to have a dog if you have a full-time job (that's right, dogs are for retirees, housewives and the self-employed only, apparently), and who spend hours every day walking and playing with their dog. And there are people like the commenter above who think keeping the dog in the yard all the time is perfectly normal and one walk a day is going above and beyond (some responsibility, please).

And I'm commenting because both sides make me uncomfortable. Dogs need exercise; on the other hand, with as many dogs as there are in the world it's silly to suggest that nobody who can't do three walks a day is qualified to own one. My family takes the dog out three times a day--once for a short walk in the morning, once for a longer walk (~45 minutes) and around a couple blocks before going to bed. And it's true that if you aren't willing to commit to daily walking, you probably shouldn't have a dog. But I don't much like this condescending attitude implying that somebody who can't manage three walks a day is abusing their dog. Every dog is different and not every dog will behave badly with less walking.

message 5: by Alexa (new)

Alexa That review is the longest thing that I ever read. Did you type that fast or slow?

message 6: by Alexa (new)

Alexa I think that I have the whole book right here! That was a long review.

back to top