Movie imitates dog lover's life


POSTED: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Long before the book and movie “;Marley and Me”; came out, I was working on my own imaginary novel about Zoe, my beloved dog of nearly 15 years. I believe the reason that “;Marley”; touched so many people is that almost everyone has had a meaningful relationship with a pet at some time in their lives, although not everyone has embraced one as deeply as Marley's family did.

Marley, a beautiful and rambunctious golden Labrador retriever, caused great disruption and destruction to this poor, sweet family. Yet they were committed to him and loved him unconditionally, until the end of his natural life.

My relationship with Zoe, my precious poodle, is deep and meaningful. As I sit here at my computer, she is where she always is, close by.

I know I have fewer days with her than more. Just like in the movie, seeing your pet grow older and slow down is heartbreaking.

She has come to work with me since she was a puppy, and wherever I am, she is not far away. Zoe is just about as recognizable as part of our family as our children are.

I can think of a million things I've done right with her. I have loved her, cared for her, fed her, walked her, regularly groomed her. I'm sure the Dog Whisperer would approve.

But there is one thing that I didn't think about when I brought her home.

When I picked out that precious puppy from the litter, my children were younger. I didn't think that as she neared the end of her statistical life span, my children would be older and leaving home. How could I have known that my one living parent would be in her last chapter of life, too?

Zoe has been my soft place to fall in the midst of the chaos of life. Whatever comes my way, Zoe has been there with her unconditional love, lending me her soft coat to stroke, reminding me that it's all OK. I can still recall a time when I was bedridden with the flu. Zoe kept vigil the entire time, only leaving my side when she had to.

Zoe has cataracts in both eyes, a heart murmur and is hard of hearing. She walks with me on many mornings, but some days she can't. Like today, when I held up her leash up and said, “;Let's walk,”; she just stood there. She has always loved our walks, and leaving her behind makes me sad.

While watching the movie, I already knew the ending, as I had read the book. I was as prepared as I could be, but when Marley died I was overcome with emotion. My husband reached for my hand and held it for the rest of the movie. At that moment it was not Marley on screen, but Zoe.

My husband and I have always loved looking at clouds and calling out forms that we see. For some odd reason, most of the time I see white poodles. I'm sure if you look at the clouds, one day you will see one, too.

I am thankful that when that time comes, when she is no longer with me, all I'll have to do is look up at the sky, and she will still be where she has always been, close by. ... Zoe and Me.