I just finished reading “Marley and Me” by John Grogan (I know, I know, I’m behind the times here, but bear with me). I really enjoyed it. Grogan writes with heart and humor and I laughed out loud many times, including in the “quiet car” on the Amtrak train and next to my sleeping son, waking him.
Having worked with Kevin Behan’s natural dog training and having seen how natural dog training has transformed my dogs as well as some of the other last chance dogs Kevin was working with last summer when I took Cholula to him in Vermont, it’s very tempting to arm-chair NDT crazy, bad-dog Marley–clearly Marley had a lot of drive, among other things. Grogan describes in the book trying dominance training over and over again on Marley with little effect. He was just not a dog you could subdue into obedience. I’m sure natural dog training could have helped Marley immensely (possibly to the detriment of the eventual book, however), but what I wanted to put down here is a quote from the middle of the book. Grogan’s wife is going through post-partum depression after the birth of her second son and, deciding she has had enough of Marley, tells Grogan to get the dog out of their lives forever (spoiler alert: things work out in the end). But in this passage, describing fearing having to give up Marley for the sake of his family, Grogan describes SO beautifully Kevin Behan’s concept in his book “Your Dog Is Your Mirror” that I just had to put it out there:
“As pathetic as it sounds, Marley had become my male-bonding sould mate, my near-constant companion, my friend. He was the undisciplined, recalcitrant, nonconformist, politically incorrect free spirit I had always wanted to be, had I been brave enough, and I took vicarious joy in his unbridled verve. No matter how complicated life became, he reminded me of its simple joys. No matter how many demands were placed on me, he never let me forget that willful disobedience is sometimes worth the price. In a world full of bosses, he was his own master. The thought of giving him up seared my soul.”
By eventually writing”Marley and Me” after Marley’s death, Grogan did actually become his own master, able to give up his job as a newspaper columnist to become an independent writer. It’s such a compelling example of the potential catharsis, wisdom, and value in doing what Kevin advocates and working to understand your bond with your problem dog–that somehow, there is a key in there to healing you both.