Rarely does a movie come along that really hits the spot. Possibly once every 5 to 10 is there one that I can watch more than once. Just days after Christmas I took my kids and my mother in law to see Marley and Me. It's quite possibly one of the saddest movies ever.
My husband and I were quite transient for the first 4 years of our marriage. We lived in 2 different states and 3 different cities during that time. When we finally settled (or so we thought) in the North suburbs of Dallas we did took the next logical step. We got a dog, of course.
We were determined to get a rescue dog. One day we happened to pass a Petsmart and they were adopting out rescue dogs. One thing led to another and somehow we left that day with a DOG! We knew we wanted a large dog, one that could run with us and keep up with our active lifestyle. We chose a 6 month old black lab. He was 60 pounds at the time and we guessed he would get to 80 pounds, maybe 90 at the most.
We took him home and he seemed to be totally comfortable with our abode. He was a dream dog for the first 24 hours. And then the doorbell rang. You would have thought there were 100 bad guys outside our house, trying to kill us the way he reacted. He was a total Jekyll and Hyde. Our guests were mortified by the behavior or our dog and we had to put him outside. He barked and howled the ENTIRE time! It was disturbing to say the least.
His behavior continued over the next 2 weeks. He would hear the doorbell, or someone walking on the sidewalk outside our home and he would FREAK. Our sweet Labrador would turn to is "Hyde" self, which happened to be his Chow Chow personality. After having him for a few days we found black spots on his tongue and with a little research we found that this was characteristic of a Chow. Chows are also known to be extremely loyal and don't adapt well to non-owners. News to us.
After 2 weeks, we invited his "rescuer" to our home, telling her we may not be able to follow through with the adoption. We took a walk with the rescuer to demonstrate the dog's disposition. Understanding that she knew a lot more about dogs than we did, we listened to her explanation of how some dogs need to be socialized and schooled. Taking her advice we decided to keep the dog and began investing all kinds of time, energy, effort and MONEY into this Chow/Lab.
Throughout our time in Dallas the dog made progress although we still could not expose him to most guests that entered our home. It was just too risky. He had never bit anyone before but there is a first time for everything.
It was our move to Ohio though that did it for us. We moved from a 1700 square foot, open ranch to a 1200 square foot cape cod. In Dallas we had good weather and miles of bike paths where we would walk every single night. Some nights we walked as far as 6 miles. In Columbus the weather only allowed about 6 months of walking per year and the addition of our twins put an end to our long held tradition.
Our dog, who never was an easy part of our life, became a burden. We feared his presence around the twins so we'd have to block him from many family moments. He resented this of course and as the twins became more mobile, he got more nervous. The house was not big enough for him to release energy like he could in Dallas. He became more and more disturbed as time went on.
The ultimate mobility of the twins made us realize that neither we nor our dog could live like this any long. We started searching for someone who would want a 105 pound, black as night, hairy, barking Lab/Chow. Every family's dream dog, right? Well, my husband and I agree that this might be the biggest answer to prayer in our entire marriage. We prayed and prayed for an answer that would not include putting this poor dog to sleep. After several months the answer came.
A student from the Vet school at Ohio State had a friend whose parents were looking for a guard dog for their family farm. They wanted a very large, intimidating dog who barks. We had the perfect dog for them.
On the 10th of December, 2005 (while I was 5 months pregnant with Little Dude) we drove Odyssey up to the farm in Upper Sandusky Ohio. Initially the family (an older couple with grandchildren) had a bed set up in their garage where Oddy would reside. Being a suburban girl, it concerned me that he'd be living in the garage. Well, as it turns out, Odyssey sleeps in the couples' bed most nights and has a run of the house now. He still barks every time a car goes past their farm. The neighbors are not big fans of Oddy but thankfully they are many acres away instead of right next door. Thankfully God provided a perfect answer for our dear canine. While we miss him tremendously, it ended better than we can ever imagine. We still visit him once a year and it's always good to see him. (And by the way, he's now 120+ pounds!)
While our story didn't end the way it did for Marley, we see our lives in Marley and Me, not just in the story of the dog but the story of our lives. A couple growing up together, going from Newlyweds to an older, more mature couple with school aged children. With our anniversary yesterday, it seemed appropriate to remember all that God has done in our lives and the way He has blessed us. I couldn't be more thankful for the good and the bad that has happened. It's been a good 11 years and I look forward to many more...no more dogs though!