a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Marley and Not Me

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Marley and Not Me

SUMMARY: Why I won't watch this dog movie.

It's Christmas, and I'm not really feeling melancholy, but this post turned out that way. Fair warning.

So many wonderful-looking films are coming out today, and quite a few wonderful ones have come out earlier in the year. I love going to the theater to see movies. It's the ambiance, the total immersion in nothing but the film in the darkness of the movie house. It's getting out of my house. It's not having to share my popcorn with the dogs.

I saw Milk--even though I knew the ending--because it reviewed well, it was local history that I lived through, and the topic is so relevant here and now in California waiting and hoping that the state Supreme Court will toss Proposition 8.

I will go see Gran Torino, even though I know it's violent, because Clint Eastwood both acts and directs, he's tremendously talented at both, his violence is always to a purpose, and his films are gripping and leave me thinking.

I will go see Doubt, although it's intense and deals with difficult subjects, because the cast is superb and because it deals with difficult subjects in an apparently interesting way.

I will probably go see Valkyrie, even though the initial ratings aren't good, and even though it's got some violence, because how Hitler got so many people to do so many bad things has always intrigued me, and it would be nice to get a glimpse into the lives or minds of some who didn't let the wool be pulled over their eyes.

I saw Bolt because I love well-done animated family films.

I saw Bolt a second time because it was a well-done animated family film that perfectly captured the personalities of dogs and--duh--I love dogs. Even though the scenes where he's separated from his human were very difficult for me. (Maybe *I'm* the one in my canine family with separation anxiety.)

I did not see Eight Below, even though I had a husky for 16 years and I love dogs and adventure films-- because I had a husky for 16 years and I love dogs. I cannot bear to see dogs in danger; I cannot bear to imagine how confused and disturbed dogs are when humans treat them in ways that dogs can't possibly understand.

And I will not see Marley and Me. Because it's about having a dog in your life, and falling in love with it, and watching it die. I've done that too many times in real life, and now, as part of a larger dog-owning community, I've done it vicariously far too many times, and thank you very much, I have no compulsion at all to relive any of that "for fun."

Love your dogs every day; you never know when there's a tomorrow that they suddenly won't be in despite how good they look today. (Bay Team dogs suddenly gone in 2008: Homer, 2 years old today, gone tomorrow. Tack, 6 today, gone tomorrow. Cammi, 5 today, gone in 3 weeks. Honey, 9 today, gone in 4 weeks. Whoopi, 5 today, gone tomorrow.)

Love your family and friends, too--such a gift when you have them. And such a boon to have when the dogs in your life depart. Hug everyone you love today or as soon as you get a chance.


  1. Not only do I not enjoy watching movies where dogs suffer and/or die, I also don't enjoy watching "cute" movies where people are inept at raising and training their dogs and so the dog is characterized as a "troublemaker" or even "bad".
    When are they going to make a dog movie for us dog trainer tpes?

  2. An agility friend's spouse took a screenwriting class and his screenplay starred agility dogs! However, he doesn't really know that much about dog agility, so it wasn't particularly realistic, but it was fun to know that he thought it was interesting enough to concoct a story from.

  3. I remember the first time I saw My Dog Skip - when the little boy hit Skip I busted out crying like a lunatic. Just can't watch that one again.

    But I have to say I did enjoy Eight Below. I cried a little, but I felt it a generally happy ending.

    Why, I don't know. But Good Dog is one of my favorites, a dog from outer space, no less.

    But a good story about a boy's (imagine, girl) love for a dog and back, I find irresistible :)

  4. Hey ELF! I was interested to read about your friends' agility-related screenplay and your thoughts on Marley and Me. I'm working on a novel set in the agility world, so it's interesting to me to learn of others who are interested in similar things. Addressing dog death in dog fiction and movies is a challenge. Can't fully avoid it, I think, because that's like ignoring the elephant in the room of our intense relationships with our short-lived beloveds. But that's not at all what our relationships with them are all about either. Interesting....

  5. That's not to say that I wouldn't WRITE about dogs dying. In some ways, though, as a writer, it seems like such an easy emotional hook--it's a hard heart indeed that won't weep when a writer with any talent talks about a dog's passing. But, you're right--the dog's short lifespan plays a tremendous role in our relationship with them, and especially so for performance dogs. Are they still young enough and healthy enough to be doing the sport? To be doing it at the top levels? Should we be doing it as much? Do we need to do additional body work or dietary supplements or what because they're getting older? How long will they last? Will cancer get 'em? (So many of them... sigh...)

    Still--and especially--because it's in the back of my mind, or the front, so often, I don't want to read or experience in detail someone else's dog dying!