A Dog To Remember: John Grogan's Marley. (Marley & Me) Institut Bernat Metge.

We interviewed Mr John Grogan,  the world’s best-selling author, whose dog Marley inspired a memoir and a series of children's books. Indeed, Marley & Me has moved people of all ages who have seen how their feelings for their pets have been masterfully reflected in the book. A dog is faithful, caring and he is always there for you when you get home, as we know. People can learn a lot from their pets. In Grogan’s words:

I have this theory, and writing the book sharpened it, that people learn a lot from their dogs. Lessons on how to lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Lessons for successful relationships. Think about it. Many of the qualities that come so effortlessly to dogs--loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love--can be elusive to humans. My hunch is that people who act more like 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.   (Marley and Me, p. 304)

At Institut Bernat Metge we are doing projects on nature and the environment in 1st and 2nd ESO, so our students chose the story of Marley, John’s dog, for an interview.

Alex and Iker are in their second year (Middle School) and both students are dog owners, so they wanted to share with John their experiences with their pets. They also wanted to ask a few questions to John, as they admire his work: it greatly contributes to gain a better understanding of how an animal can improve his or her owner’s life.

ÁLEX: We enjoyed the story of Marley and I own a dog myself that, when he was a puppy, used training pads or litter  trays not to make a mess. Did you use them with Marley too?

JG: We laid newspapers down on the floor for him, and they worked well. We also made a point of getting up in the night to let him out during the first few weeks. Marley actually was quite easy to house train. He had very few accidents inside.

ÍKER: My puppy wore diapers until he turned two. But when he went out for a walk, he didn’t do his business on the street! Did Marley do the same?

JG: No diapers for Marley. He would have ripped them off and shredded them!
ÁLEX: I used to play with a rope toy  when my dog was young. He really enjoyed playing with it! What toys did Marley play with?

JG: Marley had a big heavy rope toy, too. He loved it and would relentlessly drop it in our lap and stare at us, hoping he could coax us into playing tug-of-war with him. As soon as we picked it up, he’d grab the other end and pull, growling playfully. He was so strong, we couldn’t hold on for long. Then he’d bring it back and drop it in our laps again. He never got tired of playing.

ÁLEX: My dog took out  my mobile from my pocket the other day. He started running down  the street and, when I got it back, I noticed the screen was broken. Did Marley, or any of your dogs,  break expensive things at home?
JG: Oh, the list of household items Marley destroyed was very long. We did not have cell phones back then, but he ate the telephone receiver. And he ate our expensive stereo speakers. He swallowed my wife’s gold necklace, jumped through screens, shredded rugs, gouged up the wood floors, and dug holes in the walls. He even ripped shrubs out of the garden and ran around with them in his mouth. He was a one-dog demolition crew.

ÍKER: Do you think a dog can make of you  a better person if you do not like animals? In what way?
JG: I do think dogs make us better people. And I think a dog is one of the best things parents can give their children. Kids growing up with dogs learn empathy and responsibility and that life doesn’t center around only them. Dogs teach us about loyalty and forgiveness and making the best of any situation. Dogs teach us the importance of being kind and respectful and caring.

ÍKER: Have you ever thought of adopting a smaller dog, like a chihuahua? Why?
JG: I like all types of dogs, but I am partial to big dogs. Labrador retrievers are my favorite. They are just so happy and funny. They melt my heart. But I grew up with a fairly small dog, Shaun, who was the best friend a boy could have. When I’m older and can no longer handle a big, energetic dog like a Lab, I will be very happy to have a little dog who will share the couch with me.

ÍKER : Thank you for sharing with us the memories of your family life with Marley. We hope that everybody will be more sensitive to animal needs from now on. Whenever we are sad, our dog is there to cheer us up. It’s a relief to know he’ll always be there for you


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