Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Marley and Me

I watched "Marley and Me" (Twentieth Century Fox) last night. The movie started out with John Grogan trying to find himself as a journalist and in doing so got an insanely disobedient labrador that he and his wife called Marley. My family has had numerous pets both dogs and cats, and the young Grogans let Marley run roughshod over them. Granted labradors are high energy pets but without someone to tell them what is and is not appropriate they will do whatever they damn please. After years of Marley's endearing antics the Grogan's start having children and this loyal blacksheep adopts the Grogan chidren as his own. The movie progresses to the emotionally wrenching twilight years of Marley's life. The lovable hellion begins to slow down, eventually having a foreshadowing bout of Gastric-Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) from which the plucky canine recovers after a touch and go night at the vet.
From here I started weeping as the ending scenes of Marley played out like the passing of the Doberman Pinscher I had from high school through graduate school. Agrippina ("Pina"), was a powerful canine in her elder years who after a run on a cold winter night had massive abdominal distention due to GDV. Dobermans are bred not to feel pain and she looked more confused than pained as the shock of ischemic bowel set in. My mother and I scooped her up and took the weakening dog to the veterinarian who had rushed in from her home. The doctor shook her head as she said that our only option was surgical correction, which as with Marley would have limited benefit and only prolong suffering due to her other chronic medical conditons. Pina was a fatigued ghost of herself and as the veterinarian administered the euthanasia she passed away quietly. Never had I experienced an emotion so purely as the grief I felt at that moment, the tears, sobs, and bellows poured out of me uncontrolled and it was minutes before I had any semblance of control. Later that morning I looked at pictures of my baby in her prime and I knew that although painful for me, this was the best way for Pina to go, chasing rabbits on a cold night. Watching the end of Marley should bring tears to everyone's eyes but the exact timing and helpless grief of Marley's family was a spot on recreation of my experiences on Pina's last night. I wept unabashedly as emotional memories I thought I had marshaled assailed me anew.