2008-12-31 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

"More powerful than a locomotive. Able to eat tall couches in a single bound-"No, not Superman, but Marley, the demolitions expert disguised as a rambunctious yellow Lab, has stepped out of John Grogan's popular novel, Marley & Me, and come to a theater near you…

… And now you can win an adorable movie poster just for enumerating the many blunders made by Marley's patient but exasperated owners, the author's family. More about that in a moment.

Marley & Me, the movie, opened Christmas Day. A week before the American Kennel Club (AKC) invited members of the Metropolitan Dog Club to a private screening in NYC and gave each guest a movie poster. It was quite a thrill to be part of an audience of canine aficionadosveterinarians, fanciers, rescuers and dog writers.

The AKC also helped make the public service announcement (PSA) about responsible dog ownership shown at the start of the movie. This PSA and the poster gave me the idea for the contest. I'm building suspense. More about how you can win a Marley poster later on.

The AKC (www.akc.org/marley) is proactive, educating the public about breeds publicized in major motion pictures. No one wants to see impulsive puppy purchases. Labrador Retrievers have already been the #1 AKC registered breed for about 17 years; Labs do not "need" a spike in popularity.

As Lisa Peterson, AKC director of club communications reminds us: "A dog is a living, breathing being, a 10 to 15 year commitment. It is very important to do your research before you get a dog to make sure the breed you choose fits your lifestyle. Once you add a dog to your family, it is crucial that you socialize and train him consistently". Whenever a dog movie goes to DVD, the AKC inserts breed parent club and other resources in the package.

Labs are the ultimate active canine love machines. Marley was the energy extreme. During filming 22 Lab actors were needed to fill the paws of the real Marley at various stages of his life. The story recounts how the persistent pooch bulldozed his way through the Grogan homes and into their hearts. Despite extensive damage, separation anxiety and thunder phobia, they never gave up on their boy, the "clearance puppy".

Grogan turned his newspaper columns about the antics of his delinquent dog into a bestseller while foolishly I stockpile 26 years' worth in folders. I chuckle when I recall Juliet, my first Afghan, as Marleylight. In 1981 Juliet, like Marley, flunked out of obedience school but actually her sequence was: suspension (for standing on her hind legs and slapping her teacher across the face), expulsion (for leaping over the benches into the spectators), and finally getting left back. Juliet repeated the course before barely graduating as a beginner.

If nothing else, we learned that obedience instruction is not one size fits all. Juliet's teacher was wonderful with Dobermans, while sight hounds were not her forte. Free spirit Afghans balk at "30 minute" downs or other heavy handed methods. After all, Afghan Hounds never enlist in the Prussian militia.

As novice dog owners, we made some of the same mistakes as the Grogans. (Read between the lines for contest hints.) We never crated Juliet when we left for work. She would redecorate the curtains, distress the wood on the cabinets, and call her cousins in Afghanistan because the phone would be knocked off the wall. Since she'd smack the clock stopped at 10 minutes to 8, we knew the ruckus began as soon as we left. Juliet continued to wreak havoc until we adopted Alfie, her Afghan brother. We were lucky. They could have teamed up as desperados.

Marley & Me spans the lovable Lab's 13 year life. I don't want to be a spoiler but be prepared with tissues. This warning comes from the same blubberer who'd fetch a colleague to read her class the end of Charlotte's Web; the same sobbing teacher who would hand a student the last page of Stone Fox to finish aloud.

Everyone who has ever held a beloved pet crossing over to the rainbow bridge can identify with Grogan. Lisa Peterson of

the AKC says, "It doesn't matter if you have owned one dog or ten. At the end

of the film, you're watching yourself and your cherished dog at the vet"

•Drum roll, please… Now for the Marley & Me poster CONTEST: From either the book or movie, send me a list of responsible dog owner and/or training errors inadvertently made by Marley's family. The 8 most complete lists will win a "Marley & Me" puppy movie poster, courtesy of the AKC. The retired school marm/ judge promises not to correct spelling. Email your list to me at: acjnews@rcn.com with "Attn: J. Anderson-Marley & Me contest" in the subject line or mail them to the Massapequa Post, 1045B Park Blvd, Massapequa Park, NY 11762. Don't forget your contact info. Deadline is Jan. 25. The list is a fun vacation project to do with the kids.

•"Rhapsody in Rescue" concert to benefit dogs and cats at Last Hope Inc.- Sun. Jan. 11 at 4 pm (snow date.- Jan. 18) at St. John's Episcopal Church Huntington (corner of 25A & Prospect St.). Mezzo soprano Leslie Valentine and other professional NYC artists will be performing an enjoyable program of classical and popular music. Reception to follow in church's Great Hall. Tickets $30 in advance; $35 at the door. For more info: 516-220-6695 or www.lasthopeanimalrescue.org .

For Adoption: New Year's Eve connects the old and new. Our poster dogs from Babylon Town Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon represent this timeline also. "Rex" in Cage 13 is a purebred German Shepherd

Dog, probably about 10 years old­—

a

wonderful "old soul." His untraceable microchip reveals that he was adopted from a city shelter 2 years ago. The "Parkway Pups" are a puzzling case. Last Friday two were found on Southern State and two in East Farmingdale nearby but they appear to be the same litter. The 3 month old pups in Cage 26 look like Vizsla/Dobie mixes.

Female: "Flower" scared St. Bernard 2 years old- Cage 43; "Laverne & Shirley" longhaired sister cats in C-10; "Helga"- blue-eyed Hound mix Cage 25; strange coincidence- a stray older St. Bernard Cage 47.

Male: Retriever mix Cage 14; black Lab mix pup Cage 20; "Roosevelt" Akita mix recovering from fractured pelvis Cage 19.

Return to top

Poll

Do you expect to spend more this holiday season than you did last year?