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

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John and Jenny were young and deeply in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow furball of a puppy. Life would never be the same.

Marley quickly grew into an uncontrollable ninety-seven-pound steamroller of a Labrador retriever. Expelled from obedience school, even the tranquillisers prescribed by the vet couldn't stop him.

Yet through the chaos and the hilarity, he won hearts and remained a steadfast model of devotion to his family, even when they were at their wits' end. Unconditional love, they would learn, comes in many forms.

291 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2005

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About the author

John Grogan

85 books867 followers
John Grogan has spent more than 25 years as a newspaper journalist. Previously he worked as a reporter, bureau chief, and columnist at newspaper in Michigan and Florida. He is also the former editor on chief of Rodale's Organic Gardening magazine. His work has won numerous awards, including the National Press Club's Consumer Journalism Award. His first book, Marley & Me, is a number one international bestseller that was as a major motion picture on 2008. His second book is The Longest Trip Home. John lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Jenny, and their three children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 14,704 reviews
30 reviews17 followers
September 21, 2007
This is a mediocre book written by horrible dog owners.

Marley sounds like an amusing guy; but I think pets are like kids - you don't get nearly as much joy from people telling you stories about their kids as you do from watching your own. I have dogs whom I love very much, and often things they do I find to be very entertaining even though others might not derive the same level of enjoyment if I were to tell them all about it. For this reason, there are no parts of the book that are truly funny. Perhaps I would have laughed at some parts of the book if Marley was my dog, or if I at least knew Marley - but he's not, and I don't.

Unfortunately, this isn't what I disliked most about the book. What really stands out is that the author and his wife are horrible pet owners. At best they are negligent parents. More accurately, I think quite a bit of their behavior borders on animal abuse. In the half of the book I read, they did the following:

* Decided to get a dog for purely selfish purposes (parental practice)
* Read nothing about the breed before choosing to adopt a Lab
* Failed to do any research into the breeder
* Failed to seek out a trainer to work with Marley's quirks despite obvious behavioral issues
* Failed to provide Marley with adequate protection from storms which completely terrified him
* Used a choker with zeal, while almost deriving joy from Marley's near self strangulation
* Allowed Marley to escape from a moving vehicle, seemingly finding humor in Marley hanging out a moving car by his collar

The worst part comes at the end. During the last few weeks of his life, Marley becomes very sick. What does the author do? He leaves the dog at the vet's office and packs the family into the van for a Disney vacation. Fortunately he gets back just in time to have Marley put down. I then get the impression that he expects us to feel sorrow for his loss.

I can't imagine going on vacation while either of my pets are left, deathly ill, at the vet's office. I had already developed a strong dislike for the author's idea of pet care. This last incident really validated that opinion.
Profile Image for Kristine.
55 reviews32 followers
September 14, 2007
This is the first book that has ever, and I emphasize EVER, made me laugh so hard and cry so much. All in one book!

Marley & Me is the predictable and somewhat cliche story about a dog and his owner. If you pick up this book expecting a unique story, put it down and look for something else.

If you pick up this book expecting to learn about how to train your dog, put it down and look for something else.

If you pick up this book wanting to read a touching, but very entertaining story about being a dog owner, you've come to the right place.

This book basically chronicles the Marley's life with the Grogan's from puppyhood to his last few breaths.

Most of the negative reviews I've read about this book criticized the author's poor training methods. No one's perfect. And just like parents, dog owners can make mistakes too. Additionally, you can't celebrate life without understanding death, so to completely discredit this book because of Marley's inevitable end is to ignore one's own mortality.

Overall this is a great book. You might not learn anything new (or for that matter, correct) about dog training, but you'll at least learn to appreciate the unconditional love and affection a canine companion can bring to one's life.
Profile Image for Rachel.
64 reviews146 followers
December 15, 2008
SO my mom sent me this book because she thought I was all down after a stupid break up, and she wanted to cheer me up. I wasn't really down. I was totally fucking pissed off. I went into reading this book seeing red. Maybe that's affected how I interpreted it, but I really think this John Grogan guy and his wife are complete idiots.

There is no reason to ever buy a dog, ever. Ever. There are dogs dying all over the country because people abandon their animals or neglect to have them spayed/neutered, and these two roll up to a backyard breeder to pick out (and pay for) a puppy? Total bullshit. I am so against the mentality that a certain breed "has the traits" someone is looking for or is the kind of dog they grew up with and have fond memories of, and therefore has to be bred, sold and paid for. Go through a rescue group if you INSIST on being a breedist.

Also? There are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners. World's worst dog? World's worst dog owners.

That being said, I don't think these two abused their dog or anything. They were completely unprepared, ignorant and arrogant and I can not respect that at all. If they weren't sure about having a dog and wanted to practice "keeping something alive" they should have fostered. At least then they could have either backed out or adopted, and had help/advice along the way.

I didn't totally hate it, though. I am just awfully adamant about animal rights, and buying/selling dogs is pretty much similar to buying/selling people to me.
Profile Image for James.
117 reviews47 followers
January 25, 2010
I have a dog (my first) and like all good, over-excited, enthusiastic first-time parents, when I got it I had every intention of reading every single goddamned book on the topic. Marley & Me by John Grogan was the next on a long and ever-expanding list. It had been on the bestseller lists for quite a long time and so I was expecting it to be a light, enjoyable read. The kind palatable to the masses and easily read between Mitch Albom and Nicholas Sparks.

With “Marley & Me,” I was expecting a dog book, a man’s book. I mean, right on the cover is a picture of a cute little puppy looking up at the camera with innocent, loving eyes and a subtitle reading, “Life And Love With The World’s Worst dog.” So I was expecting a book about a man and his dog.

What I got was a book about marriage and babies, two things that gross me out. Two things that my feelings about rank somewhere between ironing shirts and slamming my penis in a sliding door.

That being said, this book is very, very good. By page thirty-two, my eyes were welling with tears. The book actually ended up being a relatively slow read because I had to stop every other paragraph to lift weights, drink beer at a strip club, and watch kung fu movies in my underwear while eating a bowl of cereal for dinner. You see, “Marley & Me” is not a story about a man and his dog. “Marley & Me” is the story of a young married couple that adopts a dog. Like all good characters in good stories, this particular dog is not perfect. In fact, it’s an outrage. Marley is a barking, drooling, rampaging, gnawing, destroying, pillaging Viking of a dog. His energy is endless. He is kicked out of obedience school. He eats expensive necklaces. He rips apart furniture. He destroys an entire garage. He transforms into a howling terror of a werewolf during thunderstorms. He never stops. He is always moving, his frenetic tail constantly wagging and tipping over anything in its oscillating path.

With Marley’s hyperactive and destructive back story carefully laid out, it is an emotional scene when the couple gets pregnant, only to lose the baby in the first trimester, and the mom comes home to be comforted by the surprisingly now-calm Marley with his big head on her lap and his still, patient body consolingly at her side. I am a non-breeder and when reading this scene I was an absolute mess. I was a thirteen-year-old girl saying goodbye to her friends at the end of summer camp. I was a mother at her daughter’s wedding ceremony. I was the girlfriend who didn’t get anything from her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. I was Meryl Streep in a Meryl Streep movie: weepy and distraught. Grogan poignantly balances the humor, stress, and satisfaction of pet ownership with a young wife as they transition into parenthood. His story is a pleasure to read in its effortless weaving of funny anecdotes, emotional growth, and the changing priorities that come with parenthood, all with an amusing animal for comic relief. Hollywood could not have done better.

The Grogans get pregnant again and their birth story is one of the more interesting ones I have heard (again, I’m a non-breeder so hearing this kind of schmaltzy crap usually bores me to tears. Why do you tell me this stuff? What do you want me to say, “Congratulations, you successfully carried out a maneuver that baboons accomplish every goddamned day, but with less fanfare, books, websites, and talking?”) But the Grogan’s story is quite remarkable as it offers a unique window into the child birthing methods of America. Before the birth, they reserve and pay extra for an upgraded, special birthing suite. When the big day arrives, however, they arrive at the hospital to learn that all of these suites are full. “We can’t control when women go into labor,” a nurse tells them. Not only that, however, but all of the “normal” labor and delivery rooms are full as well. A few phone calls, some scrambling, and they are led into a completely different part of the hospital. The room they are put in is bare and unadorned, lacking the floral curtains, pastel pillows, and cushy couch for dad that they had expected from their pre-natal tour.

The section they are in is for the poorer, mostly immigrant population of their southern Florida community. Seeing their dismay and concern, the Grogan’s doctor assures them that since the poor typically cannot afford prenatal care, they tend to have higher-risk pregnancies so their room was actually equipped with more specialized tools and instruments to prepare for these higher-risk deliveries. Also, these poorer immigrants cannot afford the expensive, pain-relieving epidurals that have become such a common part of births in America, so throughout their entire birth the Grogan’s are treated to the un-drugged screams and painful yelps of their impoverished neighbors. As a non-breeder and a bleeding heart liberal, all of this was thoroughly, thoroughly fascinating. Who would have thought? I open a book looking for a Jack London-esque dog story and get a socio-economic examination of the United States. Ah, books! And to think there’s more to this world than the news and current events I was getting from my usual two sources: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and my pot dealer.

From there, the story meanders down a gently twisting road into an enjoyable story of an American family, complete with happiness and sadness, disappointment and success, children and pet, jobs and vacations. The Grogans get pregnant again and with this baby mom goes into labor months too soon and is relegated to strict bed-rest to prevent a premature birth. A healthy baby boy is finally born at the same hospital and the day after Donald Trump’s baby. Afterwards, mom battles severe post-partum depression and demands that Marley be given away. At this point in the book, I remember silently chanting my encouragements to the narrator to “Get rid of the wife! Keep the dog! Keep the dog!” Ultimately, there was no need for such drastic measures, it’s too good and perfect of a story for tragedy. This story is one where wives and misbehaving dogs learn to live in harmony. There is the birth of a third kid (a girl!), a new job and move to Pennsylvania (complete with dog bellowing from the belly of the plane, serenading all un-amused passengers as his owners play dumb, feigning ignorance and similar disgust at such an obnoxious beast).

And through all of this idyllic American family’s adventure and change, Marley is there, though growing ever older. Marley of course eventually trots into the sunset and my tears were plinking down on the pages the whole way, Grogan tugging every one of my heartstrings. Since I have gotten a dog, I have often remarked that they make great starter-kids. In fact, I have often wondered why parents bother upgrading to human children given that dogs are expensive, entertaining, time-consuming, and very rewarding.

Now I know. Dogs die. We need something that will stick around a bit longer and wipe our ass.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dixie Diamond.
462 reviews
December 29, 2008
To be honest, I couldn't even finish this because it was so stupid.

"Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog Owner." For crying out loud--get this poor dog some exercise and a trainer!

I hate books and movies like this: The "zany" antics of poorly-trained, poorly-raised, poorly-managed pets and their self-centered, moronic, owners. I'm always afraid stories like this will encourage other ill-informed, clueless people to adopt dogs they can't handle.

I've owned dogs all my life and never had problems like this. I adopt dogs that I can manage, not large hunting breeds that need more exercise than I have time to give them. I train them. I keep training them so we both don't get out of the habit of them following the rules. I don't set them up for failure by spoiling them and failing to provide boundaries. The result? I've never owned a problem dog. I've even adopted adult dogs (4-5 years old) that had NO training--were not even housebroken--and they all turned out just fine.

I'm not even a particularly strict owner, either--my dogs have all been indoor dogs with squishy beds, toys, and overprotective "grandparents," but they still don't grow up to be nuisances like this.
5 reviews
July 22, 2007
You have to read books your grandma gives your for Christmas. Having said that, Marley's antics were mildly amusing (I guess), but I couldn't see past the fact that the owners were simply moronic. Example: they know their dog goes bananas and tries to claw its way to perceived safety anytime thunderstorms hit, tearing the house to shreds in the process. So what do they do to prevent it from ripping apart the house in the event of a thunderstorm in their absence? They put it in a little dog crate while they leave. And can you guess what happens? It tries to claw its way through the metal bars and hurts itself in the process.

No kidding. I never would have foreseen that.

If you can't handle a dog, don't get one.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,007 reviews354 followers
May 13, 2017
Os Mestres Do Amor Incondicional

Seja na vida real, no cinema ou na literatura, os cães conquistam-nos!
Partilham alegrias, consolam tristezas - são seres adoráveis e uma fonte inesgotável de amor incondicional.
São peritos e mestres nessa arte e Marley não é excepção.
Por estranho que pareça, o convívio continuado com o cão faz de nós, humanos mais humanos!...
Profile Image for Amanda.
72 reviews21 followers
July 19, 2017
What a beautiful book. I read this too soon after losing my 10 year old golden Labrador to cancer, so I found it made me extremely emotional. It's very well written and some of the antics of Marley are so typical of a young Labrador! Hilarious, heartbreaking and beautiful, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
Profile Image for Sheila .
1,918 reviews
February 3, 2009
This is a book for dog lovers, and for those who have been loved by a dog. The Grogans may not have been the best dog trainers in the world, and they may have made a common mistake of buying their dog from a backyard breeder, but what they did right was they loved their dog, and stayed devoted to him through his whole life, from puppyhood to old age. In this throwaway society, where many people consider pets to be "disposable", to be dumped at the pound when they are no longer a cute puppy, or when they start misbehaving, the Grogans did what all responsible pet owners should do. They stuck with Marley, they tried to learn, they tried obedience classes, they worked with their vet to help control Marley's issues, and they actually considered their dog a part of their family, through good and through bad. Marley was one lucky dog, to have been owned by a family who loved him for who he was, and loved him for his whole life. Every dog should be so lucky.
Profile Image for Valerie.
13 reviews8 followers
August 24, 2008
Ahhh! I loved this book. I laughed, I cried, I remeneniced. I thought about my beloved black labrador, Duff. Just like John said, "They really are they when you need them." Duff was always there for me. Walks down the hill, over the streets, down by the Golf Course, with the sunsetting. Sitting on the couch together watching a movie. Sitting out on the hill, at my sunnyspot on the hill, writing or listening to music. Duff was always there. Sometimes he slept on my bed, but usually he had too many fleas. I fed him, gave him water, took him on the most walks out of all the family members, he helped me lose weight that way. Then he got sick in his old age, he was 13 years old. I was there for him during his last months. I was living at my parents house and happened to be dying. I took him on some of his last walks trhough the countryside. He would sniff the cows and they would try to knock him over, probably 'dumb old dog'. But he was ours. Michelle saved another dog from his viciuos tearing. I was too afraid to do it, but she just jumped in there and saved the dog. I mopped up Duff's 'who know' when he was too old to move. That is how much I cared about him. Dad would lift and carry him up and down the stairs. I would give him hugs. I loved his little face. He just celebrates my teenagehood for me. We got him when I was 11? and then he died when I was 24? I love Logan, but I really loved Duff. Probably because of our long walks we took together. Him and I would walk for hours on the ranch and I would let him chase things in the river or down the gravel path. I loved playing frisbee and ball with him when we lived at 5899 Marigold Ln at San Miguel Elementary, he was so good at it. He kept us safe too, in our house on the hill when my parents were out at business meetings until 2 or 3 in the morning, Duff was there and he watched over us all, barking at anyone that came to the door. He was one of the best things that happened to our family, one of the few things that made us 'normal' and human. I loved trips to Healdsburg memorial Beach with Duff and Dad. Jeff and Michelle would come too and we would play for hours at the river, Duff swimming, fetching sticks, and grabbing rocks in the water and struggling to bring them back to Dad. It was one of the times when my Dad was truly happy. If it wasn't for Duff, I don't know if we ever would have spent much time together as a family. He was a beautiful, genuine soul. He made my mom a Dog-Lover and I myself will always be a Dog Lover. I have a Dog personality, rather than a cat. Fun-loving, carefree, and free-spirited. Dogs rock! My favorite quote from the book is: "I have a theory, and writing the book sharpened it, that people can learn a lot from their dogs. Lessons on how to lead happier, more fulfillinf lives. Lessons for successful relationships. Think about it. Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs-loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimisim, unqualified love-can be elusive to humans. My hunch is that people who act more loke dogs have happier marriages. That's assuming, of course, you don't marry someone who emulates cats. Then you're in trouble. Cats will outsmart dogs every time." Page 304

Yes, I am a dog person, and yes, my first marriage was to a cat person! He has said he loves cats! So that's why it didn't work out! Now I look for someone that has that same free-spirited nature that I have.

This book made me think about my beloved black lab. I pray that I can have my own black lab someday. I want one so bad! I need a house, a stable job to care for the dog, and time, as well as patience. It's funny because the way I think about having a dog is the same way most people think about having children, the responisbility factor. For me, having children, was like, yeah, let's just jump right in! Dogs, I know better, I know what it takes.

I love this book and I am glad John Grogan wrote it. His memoir is so complete, moving, and beautiful. I want to live with that family. I want to be able to have Marley or Duff to lean on when times get hard. I absolutely love and cherish this book and will probably reread it just to live it all over again. I was at work when I was reading it and I was sitting there at my desk, literally sheding tears. No one saw me though! I also highly enjoy the fact that John is a journalist, editor, and columinst. He inspires me! I want to go to his book signing in November 2008 down in Corte Madera, I may actually go meet him, he is that good of an author and now one of my favorites! Love it, love it, love it!!!
Profile Image for Theresa Alan.
Author 10 books999 followers
November 6, 2016
This is just the kind of hilarious, fun book I like to read, but because I saw the movie, I almost never read books AFTER I’ve seen the movie. For me it’s the other way around: I read the book and see the movie, usually to see how much better the book was.

It’s been a long time since I saw the movie, so I gave the book a chance, and I’m glad I did—the humor and endless comedy was a blast. Marley destroyed countless pieces of furniture and screen doors. He routinely ate things like parts of their stereo equipment and once, a gold necklace that was a gift from author John Grogen to his wife, Jenny. Grogen then reports in hilarious detail being on poop patrol in his attempt to rescue the expensive necklace from Marley’s prodigious defecation offerings to their backyard.

Everything about the book is funny or touching. Even the birth of their first child was told in hysterical detail.

Marley got kicked out of obedience school the first time for being too incorrigible. When they went back many months later, he did manage to pass—and he quickly snatched his diploma from John’s hands and ate it.

If you’ve ever shared your life with a dog (even cats like to destroy plants, especially if they’re hanging and they can pounce on them from any surface and yank them out of the wall so you come home to dirt and plant shreddings spattered across your carpeting. They also like to topple books from shelves and sit on your keyboard while you’re on deadline for work), you’ll identify with the funny stories of how much work animal companions can be, and how much we miss them when they’re gone. If you live in a place that doesn’t allow animals, you’ll also feel a little better about how simple and unencumbered your life is, but you’ll feel a wistful sense of loss, too.

For more of my reviews, please visit http://theresaalan.net/blog/
Profile Image for Donna Bolton.
5 reviews
September 6, 2007
I loved this book. My now husband bought it for me last year for my birthday. When we had started dating, we found and loved a little mutt named Stella. When she was killed, our world was rocked. We felt foolish for being so upset over a dog. Neither one of us could stop crying for weeks. We didn't even have her a year when she died. This book made us both feel so good becuase it reminded us why we were so devistated. It was not only because Stella was a PERFECT dog. It was that she was there when we fell in love. All of our memories of the begining had her there. She was our little doggie-angel that showed us so much and then left us to pick up the pieces and to go at it alone. That is why we were so upset. Reading this book was wonderful. When a story like this begins...you know the dog will die. But you want to keep reading because you understand why it is worth it. You know you will cry, but you also know it feels good. I often wonder, like the author, "Would we do it again?" And the answer is always....yes yes yes yes. The pain of losing a beloved animal is worth the time you have with them on earth. If you love animals...or you are trying to understand someone who does.....READ THIS BOOK!
Profile Image for Supratim.
233 reviews444 followers
May 16, 2020
What a delightful book!

Mr. John Brogan has penned a wonderful book chronicling the life of Marley and the evolution of the Brogan household. But wait, who was Marley! He is introduced as lively and cute puppy brought home by the young couple John and Jenny. Marley would grow into a huge and handsome Lab – a massive hulk of boundless nervous energy. Words such as discipline and obedience did not exist in his dictionary. He left behind a trail of destruction in his wake – he had cost the Brogan household a small fortune in damaged properties – been a source of public embarrassment many a times. Funny for the readers but just imagine the plight of the Brogans.

At a point of time, even Jenny wanted to get rid of him. Only through John’s patience and efforts would the crisis be avoided. But, don’t get the impression that Marley was only a troublemaker. He always rose to the occasion when the situation demanded. He was the best therapy for providing emotional solace or could transform into a formidable protector if he sensed the Brogan’s were in danger.

I will quote these comments to convey Marley’s importance to the Brogan family –
“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?”
“He taught us the art of unqualified love. How to give it, how to accept it. Where there is that, most other pieces fall into place.”

Some readers might wonder why I have given this book a 5 star rating. A very sensible thought, I agree. It is not what you could call a specimen of superior literary fiction. It just tells the story of a wild but very lovable dog. In my defense, it deserves the rating by merit of the sheer positive impact that the book has on numerous readers.

If the book piques your interest, I would strongly recommend you to enjoy Marley’s hilarious adventures.

Profile Image for Jenny.
377 reviews14 followers
August 31, 2015
This guy has a pretty bad case of Precious Snowflake Syndrome. He's the kind of guy who appears to have a pretty average life with a pretty average wife and kids. Lives in an average house. Makes an average wage. But that's all too boring so instead he has to act like he has the Craziest Dog in the World! His dog (and everyone else in his life) is a precious snowflake more beautiful and unique than anything else in the universe.

His dog's digestive tract cleans gold better than any chemical! His dog is just crazier than any dog that ever lived in the entire history of dogs! His wife is so brilliant and perfect she can be cured of postpartum depression practically overnight with no drug interventions at all. His children sit quietly and only occasionally pop up to say adorable things in childish speech impediments. He probably rides to work on a unicorn and poops rainbows. While I'm sure he's a delightful man to know in real life, reading the book equivalent of a Norman Rockwell painting is not really all that riveting or funny.

Profile Image for Cara.
242 reviews143 followers
February 17, 2022
Marley and Me by John Grogan was such a good book!! This novel is told in the point of view of the author himself, John Grogan. The prologue itself had me crying when John was talking about his childhood dog. This story had it's laugh-out-loud moments, but at times it was so heartbreaking!! I can't believe I waited so long to read this story, but i'm so glad I decided to finally pick it up. What's not to love about a dog on the cover of a book? That's what really grabbed my attention. Expect to laugh, cry, and shake your head as you read this book.

John and Jenny Grogan were just beginning their life together. John and Jenny both worked at a newspaper company in Florida, they were young and in love, with a perfect little bungalow and not a single care in the world. John and Jenny both had sweet pups when they were children, and decided to get a dog when they got married. John and Jenny brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow furball of a Labrador retriever puppy. Life would never be the same again. I thought Marley was such a sweet, fun, loving, and adorable dog. Marley quickly grew into a barreling, ninety-seven-pound steamroller of a retriever, a dog like no other, Marley was so unique is his own ways that nobody could ever understand.

Marley crashed through screen doors, gouged through drywall, flung spit on people. stole women's undergarments, and ate everything he could get his mouth around, which includes couches and expensive jewelry. John and Jenny took Marley to obedience school to teach him to behave, but that did no good, Marley soon got expelled. But Marely's heart was so pure! Marley joyfully refused any limits on his behavior, but his love and loyalty were just too boundless. Marley was a man's best friend, as John Grogan stated. I just wanted to jump into the book and hold Marley so close to my heart!!

Marley shared John and Jenny's joy at their first pregnancy and their heartbreak over the miscarriage. Marley was there when Patrick, Conor, and Colleen were brought into the world. Marley was there when a seventeen-year-old stabbing victim's screams pierced the night. Marley was just always there. Marley shut down a public beach, and earned himself a role in a movie. Marley was always winning hearts, even with the messes he made. Marley taught the Grogan family unconditional love, and they would soon learn that love comes in many different forms. Marley and Me is a heartwarming and unforgettable story of a family in the making, and a crazy, loving dog who taught the Grogan's what really matters in life.
Profile Image for Oceana2602.
554 reviews131 followers
February 2, 2009
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.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dixie.
467 reviews7 followers
January 6, 2009
"A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbols mean nothing to him. A water-logged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his."

I never 'dog-ear' pages in the books I read. I like my books to remain looking as new as possible and I enjoy perfectly pressed paper with no hint of wear. Last night as I finished the last few pages of the book, "Marley & Me" I dog-eared two pages; very unlike me. I couldn't help it. I was so moved by Grogan's words that I wanted anyone (myself included) who read or re-read the book to be as moved as I was.

This book for me was something special. I am stingy about giving 5 stars to any book I read. When I was about 2/3 of the way through, my husband asked me what I thought of the book. I hesitated before responding, "Uh, its alright". I was not overly impressed at that point. I was enjoying the story but I knew where it was heading. I knew I would finish the book with tears (which is not out of the ordinary for me). Sure enough, when I finished the book, tears streaming down my face I was sad it was finished and knew, for me, it was going to be a 5-star book. I was swept away with the writing and the story. It moved me emotionally and the more I think about it, the more I love it.

The author, John Grogan, is the owner of the crazy dog and the storyteller. For his profession, Grogan is a columnist so he has amazing writing skill. I enjoyed his sarcastic humor and the creative way he told his story about Marley. My husband and I are non-pet owners and will likely remain so. We both work full time. We are clean freaks. We like to travel. That being said, my mind for a half of a second wanted to change as I dog-eared the second page:

"He became part of our melded fabric, a tightly woven and inseparable strand in the weave that was us. Just as we had helped shape him into the family pet he would become, he helped to shape us, as well- as a couple, as parents, as animal lovers, as adults. Despite everything, all the disappointments and unmet expectations, Marley had given us a gift, at once priceless and free. He taught us the art of unqualified love. How to give it, how to accept it. Where there is that, most of the other pieces fall into place."

I'm not sure I'll see the movie because I know the book is better. I don't have to see the movie to know that I already like the book more. A movie can't capture the thoughts of Marley's family like the book can. The movie will also lose the enchanting writing of very talented author.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,290 reviews120k followers
May 27, 2015
Marley is a lovable lab and the structural element around which Grogan writes his own coming of age story. Grogan and wife are reporters in south Florida, and take on the responsibility of a pooch as a way for his wife to see if she is up to the challenge of handling a baby. We follow Grogan as he tries to gain some control over the rambunctious Marley. He leads us through the life of a young couple as they try and fail to have a child, then try and try again, successfully. He shows us the changes in his neck of Florida, and the changes in Marley and his wife. We meet his babies and see how Marley attaches to them. It is a charming tale, warmly told, of a flawed but lovable pooch. It is no shock that this tale bolted its way to the top of the bestsellers’ list and would not let go. Eventually the family moves to Pennsylvania as Grogan takes over publishing duties for the Rodale Press. The Pennsylvania portion is definitely the lesser part here. Marley learns about snow and gets a taste of the Middle Atlantic, but all too soon he begins to go gray and soon after he begins a rapid medical decline. The final chapters address his demise. I was relating particularly to the passing of Bo, our alpha cat, while reading this, choking up the whole time. Grogan tacks on his take on what Marley taught his human masters. It was a bit maudlin, but what the heck. This is a very engaging and enjoyable read. Payload, such as it is, concerns dogs in general and labs in particular. But the joy here is the pure, untrammeled love of Marley for life and his loyalty to his family. Recommended. Carry tissues.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,084 reviews215 followers
October 16, 2020
Definitely enjoyed this re-read and now I feel like I need to watch the movie again?

Marley and Me gave me so much joy because it had a dog and I just love them. Plus it made me laugh so much because puppies and dogs in general get into so many things. They are definitely a handful but the love, kisses, and snuggles are well worth it.

John and Jenny also made me laugh so much and again, I died at the plant comments. Mostly because my sister buys so many plants and she "loves" them so much.. but they always die. It's hilarious to watch her buy new plants to replace the dying ones and thinks I wont notice. I do, every time and snort.

Last, but not least, the ending will forever get to me. I know I cried the last time I read this and watched the movies so I was a little prepared for the tears to fall. It happened and I don't regret anything.

Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog was again freaking adorable. I've seen the movie countless times and I was very excited to dive into the book. I honestly loved Jenny and John in the beginning. The whole plant dying thing had me laughing and then she jumps from a plant to a dog. For me, I'd rather have a dog than a plant because of the whole unconditional love thing.. but her logic was just funny to me.

Another thing, dogs definitely help you prepare for kids - sort of. They are a lot of work and you will spend a lot of money on them. Just like kids. Marley was all kinds of trouble from the start and it definitely made me smile. It definitely reminded me of how my first dog was and definitely how my two dogs are now. They are all kinds of trouble and make my life interesting.

Now I loved reading about their time with this dog. It was beyond precious to me and I loved everything about it. Then I reached the saddest part ever because I've seen the movie so I knew it was coming. Reading about his death was just so freaking sad. It took me back to the day that we had to put down my first dog. We did it at home and it was just a very sad day. My dog, Calvin (Cal for short) had cancer and when we put him down - well, he went very quickly. The whole family was just crying, hugging, and kissing him goodbye.

So when I went through this whole section about Marley.. it definitely brought back bad memories. Bittersweet for me. In the end, I would definitely re-read this book and re-watch the movie again too. It was just that good. I fell in love with John, Jenny, Marley, and the entire family. They were adorable and I'm glad that I got a chance to dive into this book.
Profile Image for La Crosse County Library.
550 reviews132 followers
May 4, 2022
Review originally published January 2006

Animal lover, get ready to lose your heart to a dog when you read Marley & Me by John Grogan. At times, we all need to be reminded about things that really matter in life: loyalty, courage, devotion, simplicity, joy, and unconditional love. And Marley, a golden Labrador retriever, does an excellent job of reinforcing these values.

John Grogan writes about the ups and downs of life with Marley, and tells a very enjoyable and heartwarming tale. Grogan is an expert at writing word pictures. Imagine reading:

“Marley didn’t actually wag his tail. He more wagged his whole body, starting with the front shoulders and working backward. He was like the canine version of a Slinky.”

I highly recommend Marley & Me to all readers. This book is catalogued as a nonfiction title, yet the book reads like a novel!

Marley & Me is currently a title on the New York Times "Best Sellers List." All five La Crosse County Libraries post a copy of this list, and indicate which titles are owned by the libraries. You can request these books in person or by phone with your library card. We are happy to fill requests for readers as the books become available.

Find this book and other titles within our catalog.
Profile Image for Lynne King.
489 reviews652 followers
March 26, 2022
I purchased this book on the recommendation of a friend. As I also have a labrador retriever, I was intrigued to see how badly behaved this Marley was in comparison to my own lovable lab, but still inclined to behave badly when it suited him.

There were just so many similarities between the two dogs but apart from that I loved the writing style and, for the most part, it was a great book.

There's one paragraph that just sticks in my mind and I always look at this if I happen to be browsing through this book, or if I'm having a low period in my life: "As I wrote this farewell column to Marley, I realized it was all right there in front of us if we only opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with stinky breath and bad manners to help us see what really counts in life. Despite all his flaws, Marley had given us a gift that no amount of money could buy. He gave us the gift of total, complete love. He taught us how to give it and how to accept it. When you have love, most of the other pieces fall in place."

A delightful read.

Profile Image for Anna.
45 reviews35 followers
September 18, 2019
The funniest and saddest book I have ever read. John Grogan is a real bastard for making me laugh and cry so damn hard and he's amazing
4 reviews
November 8, 2012

At first glance, John Grogan’s Marley and Me appears to be a “feel good” novel for the dog loving population. However, as an active member of that population, it is a disappointing example of the multiple wrongs many people engage in when raising a puppy.

The secondary title, Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog would be more appropriate with, Ridiculous Decisions of the World’s Worst Dog Owners as its title. Let me explain. The autobiographical story begins with a young Grogan and his wife contemplating dog ownership. Readers are given the information that for the Grogan’s, owning a dog is natural progression and prelude to parenting.

Admittedly, Grogan brings up several points where he and his wife overlook obvious signs of trouble – such as the lying “breeder” they choose as well as the personalities of the parent dogs. This is to Grogan’s credit because thereafter he continues to name other forces as the reason for Marley’s misbehavior.

The novel continues through the lives of the Grogan’s and their burgeoning family. Oftentimes, their lives do not include Marley – which is a prime example of so many households today…Once the children start coming, the dog becomes less important and more like a piece of furniture. The expectation, however, that Marley should become a “good” dog is always present – even though the effort has never been given in regard to poor Marley. A good dog does not happen by osmosis but consistent training with effort, love, and loyalty.

While the antics of Marley are often humorous, I am saddened that “Bad Dog” Marley is blamed when the fault should be lain upon the Grogans themselves. This perhaps sounds harsh but as a dog trainer myself, I firmly believe that our dogs are the products of the time and effort we put into and afford them. Dogs are NOT disposable though we live in a society that perpetuates this theory. Even though the Grogan’s keep Marley throughout his life, the fact that he is less than cherished is ever present, especially on behalf of Mrs. Grogan as she expels him from the house and wants him gone shortly after the birth of one of their children exclaiming that John “Get rid of him.”

Overall, Marley and Me remains an example, sadly, of what many pet owners are today – uninformed and uneducated in the ways of dogs. Poor Marley, he could have been a great dog if he had had great owners.

Profile Image for Jake Doyle.
4 reviews
May 31, 2016
This book was great and gave me a real insight on what it would be like to have a dog. As a person who would like to own a dog when they get older, this book was a real joy because it shows how even though having a dog can be hard work, it pays off with the love and loyalty that dog gives. Most reviews of the book praise it but some criticize it because they say John and Jenny were terrible dog owners because they didn't treat Marley like a child. This is silly because Marley didn't need to be treated like a child and although he was still a bit crazy until the end, he changed a lot over the book. I think a reader who would enjoy this book is someone who likes books that are about dogs and ones that allow you to imagine scenes. What I mean by that is that when a scene was laid out in the book, I imagined it and the book gave me a good I,age of what must've happened. The dog lovers would like this book because, well, it's about a dog and his family who try to live with his craziness. I also think family oriented book readers would like this because a main theme of this book is the importance of family. I think there is a huge character development in the Grogan family and how over the course of the book, Jenny and John become great parents after dealing with Marley, and Marley becomes tame but still keeps his puppy attitude. All in all, this ok was great and it would have been even better if I could've related to this family even more than I had.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Evelyn (devours and digests words).
229 reviews497 followers
June 16, 2015
'In a world of bosses, you are your own master.'

I rarely ever give 5/5 ratings on a book. Let alone on a memoir. But if I have to be honest, Marley & Me deserves it all. Hell, if I could rate this more than 5 stars I bloody damn would.

This is the first non fiction book that I truly ever find delightful. It was such a joyride. I laughed out loud, snickered, made strangled *squeeeeeee* noises, and even shed a tear or two at the near ending. I'm the most dramatic, soppy reader ever and this review will be just that. Dramatic and perhaps a bit soppy (and maybe even non-sensical too because mind you, there will be a lot of gushings). I think I scared my mum while I read this because she threatened to lock me up in a mental hospital if I don't stop flailing around with this book and making weird cooing sounds. This is how much Marley the Dog affected me.

I've read a few memoirs back then and they were depressing and gritty as fuck. I was only eleven when I read about the real life accounts of a Yakuza's daughter and then another memoir about a girl living in the same roof with an alcoholic mother. Right after I finished, I made a vow to never ever pick up another non-fic book. So when my sister bought Marley & Me a few years back, I blatantly ignored it. I did not even want to look at it. Thinking it will be uninteresting, depressing and boring. Now fast forward to the present, boy was I wrong about this book.

John & Jenny were happily married. But when they brought home a labrador retriever puppy that came to be known as Marley (named after the celebrated singer Bob Marley) their lives were changed for good. What was once a little furball, Marley rapidly grew into a hyperactive 97 pounds of a dog. This same dog caused a wreck in their house; breaking furnitures, crashing screen doors, tearing cushions, gobbling up receipts, bottle caps (and other things) and he even figured out how to dug a hole in the wall. He humped strangers, stole food from unsuspecting kids, stuck his nose into poodle dogs's asses, and not even tranquiliser pills can get in his way. Heck, he even failed obedience school. He was one unstoppable machine.

To other people, he may seemed like a wild, ferocious uncontrollable thing but to John and his family - to his readers Marley was anything but

"..... a big, loving dope of a dog whose defense strategy against intruders would surely have been to lick them to death. But the prowlers and predators out there didn't need to know that. To them he was big, he was powerful, and he was unpredictably crazy. And that is how we like it."

Marley reminded me that life is finite, that soon our mortality will catch up and death will be inevitable to stop. So why not try to enjoy every precious moments in life?

I never for once owned a dog or a pet for that matter. I couldn't even take care of a fish. So I can't have known how the loss of a pet could affect me. I have never known that bond but when I read this book, I felt that connection between man and dog. The scene where Marley passed on jerked at my heartstrings and before I knew it I was crying Niagara Falls.

Put aside Marley's awesomeness and you have John Grogan's excellent way of writing. Plus, his humour is simply gold. Two thumbs up!

I'd recommend this to those who love dogs, owns dogs as pets or even those who wants to have a dog for their own. Read this, laugh out loud, join the ride.
Profile Image for Hillary.
88 reviews40 followers
March 21, 2018
i love this book so much because it makes think of my dog snowball that passed away in 2014 . my dog was a great dog but had a lot of energy. he was 8 years old when he passed away in a house fire .
Profile Image for Nicole Leigh Reads.
210 reviews57 followers
May 24, 2022
4.5 stars

I've simultaneously wanted to read and dreaded reading this book since I saw the movie adaptation and cried my eyes out in 2008. So when this book came into my life for the unbeatable price of $0.10, I had to grab it. And I'm so glad I did.

Marley and Me is the tale of a dog who was approximately 50% goofball hyperactive energy and 50% love told through the eyes of an owner who embraced him for all that he was. The antics and ruckus caused by Marley, the nearly 100 lb yellow lab, are framed in a way that is sweet and endearing. I can't say as I agree 100% with every single action taken or statement made by the Grogan family, but I appreciate the way in which they loved their dog for all that he was. It showed throughout this reflective collection of Marley's life.

There were a few chapters where the author wandered a bit off track and maybe got a bit self indulgent with details of himself when the book's central focus was meant to be Marley and Marley's impact on their family. This was the main event most of the time, but I did feel a little bit pulled out of the stories he was telling when it went into great detail about things such as the ways he would spend his days adventuring around to write columns as a journalist.

Aside from this, I found the writing very witty, clever, and engaging. This book delivered on all fronts: I laughed, I cried, I mourned, I rejoiced. Dogs are truly amazing creatures! (Especially Labrador retrievers, the lovable rascals.)
Profile Image for Asha Seth.
631 reviews313 followers
October 19, 2012
“A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his.

Just like Marley, my Golden-Retriever, Alfey is a classic example of the above mentioned fact. All dogs are! One just needs to see.

A Great piece of work from John Grogan that has promised to remain in my memories forever and ever.
Saying that I loved it, is a mere understatement. I lived it. I enjoyed it. I adored it.

Being a retriever-owner myself, I can say I lived every piece of the book, some to an extent lot more.

I can never agree more to these few lines Grogan has adroitly expressed. Not even if I yelled for hours, standing at the peak of Mount Everest with a mike in my hands. It is just so true and a feeling mutual to all dog-lovers like me.

"We could have bought a small yacht with what we spent for our dog and all the things he destroyed. Then again, how many yachts wait by the door all day for your return?"

The story as you might well know by now is about the life of Marley(A Labrador Retriever). John Gorgan's pet dog. Marley was irritatingly-cute, disastrously-funny, a mess-maker, a heart-winner with those innocent eyes. Marley was a chewer of couches, a slasher of screens, a slinger of drool, a tipper of trash cans.

The book revolves around how in his early years of marriage, John and Jenny(John's wife) bought a lab-pup for a pet dog and how very soon he became the inevitable integral part of their lives. He lives a dog's not-so-long-life of 13 years while he loves the Grogan family unconditionally.
They live learn and love Marley through these years until time comes for him to depart from the world.

This again is such a mutual feeling. In my childhood, I owned a German Shepherd and lost him to sickness. Every tiny memory of his pools my eyes with tears.

This is how Grogan has put it through for himself, for me and for those few thousand people who have lost their pet dogs.

"Every night for thirteen years he had waited for me at the door. Walking in now at the end of the day was the most painful part of all."

I sobbed, then wept and then cried. And once I Did I knew there was no stopping.
I could so feel Grogan's loss as mine. I too fell in love with Marley like thousand other readers did.

This one was an anticipated breakage of the dam of my tears which didn't stop for good few hours. Here it is,

Owning a dog always ended with sadness because dogs just don't live as long as people did.

Read it even if you are not a dog-owner. You might want to own one.
Read it even if you are a dog-hater. You might start loving them.
Read it. Read it anyway.
Profile Image for Merty.
368 reviews
May 17, 2010
This book should have been titled "World's Worst Dog Owners". This book just make me plain mad. Poor Marley was just abused. Left alone in a garage without AC for 10 to 12 hours. Left alone with his fear of thunderstorms. At one point, the callous female owner doesn't want him anymore. What the heck. This book was awful. It just makes me think of all those unwanted dogs left to fend for themselves because owners don't want to deal with them anymore. Don't understand how this book became so popular.
It gets worse, the family goes on vacation when he's near dying so they can go on vacation.
Love their priorties! This book is AWFUL!!! I can't believe the popularity of this book and there is a movie! What the.....?
I will NEVER recommend this book to anyone.
The only reason Marley was considered such a "bad" dog was that he was truely neglected ALL the time. Horrible Horrible Horrible book and treatment of a family pet all the way to his dying end. The Disney vacation had priorty for the Grogan family.
18 reviews1 follower
October 18, 2007
OK, I'm a complete sucker for this book. Yes, some of the anecdotes are things that every pet owners experiences, and are not really that compelling as a result. And some parts of it are more about life with a dog than the life of a dog. It was well written though, and really funny at times. Marley sounds like he was a complete love.

And that is why it was so tough to read the end. Yes, you know how it ends. But Grogan's description of the canine aging process is really accurate. Dogs do live in a compressed time span, and they go from pups to geriatrics in the blink of an eye. They bring so much joy during their lifetime, but they are dependent on their owners, especially as they age. It breaks your heart as they start to show signs of aging and frailty when they still apparently have the mind and demeanor of a puppy. It's an exercise in adapting to their needs and realizing that they, like you, have limited time on this earth.

The whole account brings back a process that I've had two too many times, so maybe I'm hyper-sensitive about it. Still, it brings back the whole sadness of saying good bye to a loyal and totally trusting companion. It's so hard to know that they are naive and have that trust in you even when you are taking them to the vet for the last time. You know its the right decision, but it still is heartbreaking. OK, probably TMI.

A good book on the whole, and it struck a cord with me. I'm glad I was in the privacy of my own room when I finished it.
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