Marley and Me by John Grogan

Ever had a dog? John did when he was a kid, and so did Jenny. Perfectly saintly dogs that defined much of their childhood, and growing up years. So what was more natural than them getting a dog to spice up their lives, once they were married? Enter Marley, the yellow Labrador retriever.


As luck would have it, though, Marley turned out to be nothing like the model, perfect, multiple dog show award-winning pup they had anticipated. He was the exact opposite, a bundle of mischief (read: psychotic), who single-handedly managed to demolish or devour at the least provocation. He broke things and drooled excessively, got expelled from obedience school, ate whatever he could get his mouth near as soon as their backs were turned, acted in a movie, and was strong enough to pull the entire table along at the diner’s. It would be safe to say that there was never a dull moment when he was around. Yet, he had a heart of gold; he was loyal and affectionate, gentle with children, and protective as well, when the need arose.


John Grogan’s witty and emotional memoir is spread over thirteen years of devoted companionship, and three localities, namely West Palm Beach; the ‘Land of Bocahontas’, Boca Raton; and the ‘Land of Pencils’, the Pennsylvanian countryside. He intimates us with every detail frankly, honestly and shamelessly, be it the glories or the embarrassments. It takes but a few pages to feel like a part of the Grogan family, and by the end, you find yourself mourning the inevitable farewell with as much sorrow as they do.


What is remarkable about this novel is how it takes under its wing every member of the family, and acquaintances besides; and every important moment that shaped their lives, without once abandoning its main character. It has something for everyone, and Marley’s journey from frolicking pup to aged senior citizen encompasses all the simple joys of life which the author deems the most important, and for which he most credits his mad, nutty, lovable mentor and teacher, Marley the Dog. He helped him realize that often, the journey is far more important than the destination, and that although there would come a day when there would be no tomorrow, that wasn’t reason enough to stop living and enjoying for today.


John Grogan decided to write this autobiographical book following the overwhelming response that his column received, when he published Marley’s eulogy in The Philadelphia Inquirer, following his death. The book was released in 2005. Since then, it has also been rewritten into three different versions for children—Marley: A Dog Like No Other, for younger readers; Bad Dog, Marley!, a picture book for children in lower grades; and A Very Marley Christmas, with hilarious incidents and anecdotes, as well as illustrations. The book has also been adapted into a movie titled Marley and Me starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, and directed by David Frankel. The movie was released on December 25, 2008, and has been described as emotional and true-to-the-book by viewers and reviewers alike.


In the author’s own words, “Dogs are great. Bad dogs, if we can really call them that, are the greatest of them all.” Clearly, flawed as he was, no dog was ever loved more. Delivering a bunch of laughs and a few tears, this #1 New York Times Bestseller is a book that people of all ages, be they dog lovers or not, will appreciate.


Kriti Bajaj