A few weeks ago I rented Marley & Me
. I had heard many good things about the book, and mixed reviews of the movie. In all honesty, I found the film to be a bit disappointing. True, there were some amusing bits. But overall, it felt extremely lacking. While the title is "Marley & Me" and the ending is a somber one (supposedly) full of emotion, the story focused more on the "Me" and the family, rather than the relationship between "Me" and "Marley." Marley, it seemed, was presented primarily as a supporting character . . . a marketing hook meant to distinguish the film from countless other romantic comedies. When the inevitable ending rolled around, there was no real basis for the emotional connection that was meant to be present between the title characters. Now, I have not read the book, and can only assume that it fleshes out the relationship more thoroughly.
But I will admit that towards the end, I did begin to tear up. Sitting on my couch, watching the portrayal of a man making the difficult decision to let his "best friend" go, I instinctively found myself reaching down towards the floor, intent on scratching Duncan behind the ear But he wasn't there. As I've no doubt mentioned before, he's been living with my folks for some time now. With my work & school schedule, he was being left alone far too much. So my parents graciously took him in. As I choked up a bit, I realized it was not because I felt anything for the characters in the film, but because I saw myself in "Me"'s shoes. Duncan turned 14 this past July--no spring chicken for a dog his age. And watching that scene reminded me that it was likely that day wasn't too far off for the two of us . . . sitting at the vet's office, staring into his puppy dog eyes, making one of the most difficult decisions I would have to make. And saying goodbye to one of my dearest friends.
This weekend, it seems, that day came. Visiting my folks on Monday, we discussed how badly my baby has deteriorated. Oh, he puts on a good front--pretending like nothing is wrong. Which only made reality more difficult. While he periodically gets spurts of energy and wanders around, it is an obvious struggle for him to stand up. And even once risen, he stays up for only a few minutes and then abruptly plops back to the floor. My folks have observed his hind legs completely collapse when doing something as simple as taking a single step (2-3") down out the door. And his breathing is noticeably labored even while laying down. Our vet has commented more than once about how I can "read" Duncan . . . I know him so well that despite his best efforts at hiding things I can usually tell when something is wrong. As I looked into his face, and he gave me a big doggy-style smile as if to say "Dude, it's cool--I'm happy to see you" all I could see was the sadness in his eyes. It was the "I hurt, but I don't want you to see it and feel bad" look.
Today I say thank you for 14 years of unconditional love and friendship. Today I say goodbye to the best damn 4-legged friend a guy could ever ask for.
Posted at 9/8/2009 6:35:40 pm by PhilM