Thursday, January 1, 2009


Back in August, when I was making the trip across the country to my new post at the Citadel, I was reading The Art of Racing in the Rain, on the trip. Consequently, I associate the book and passages in it with portions of the landscape between Colorado Springs, CO, and Charleston, SC. It was a beautiful book. It was recommended by a good friend. I enjoyed it, and I recommend it to any of you who share your lives with a dog or dogs.

This afternoon, I went to a movie, Marley and Me. As the movie is based on a book I've never read, I can't comment on it with respect to how well or poorly it captures the spirit of its print precursor. But I can tell you I enjoyed the movie. I did make the mistake of going expecting a comedy though. And while the movie has funny moments, I don't think it can really be called a comedy at heart. What it is, is a movie about life, and especially about married life, and about the choices that we make when we agree to share life with other souls, be they a dog, a spouse, or children. I think the thing I liked best about this movie, is that, like the movie Once, this is a movie in which people make the right choices in hard circumstances. Or better yet, they make the right choices in circumstances that can't even be called hard--they are simply the normal circumstances that most of us find ourselves in, in the ordinary course of living our lives.

So, I recommend the movie. I can especially recommend it as one to see with the children. I'll warn you though, take tissue. We couldn't help but wonder today if perhaps the two young children behind us, around seven or eight I'm guessing, hadn't lost a beloved dog at some point. They were quietly sobbing by the time it was over. I have to confess, I came near to joining them.

My own dog is over ten years old now. She came into my life eight years ago this week. She was and remains an astonishingly beautiful dog with a luxurious coat and piercing blue eyes. And like Marley, she began her first night with my family alone in the garage of friends we were visiting in Oceanside, CA. Her howling didn't earn her a ticket into the house, but it did result in my spending the night on a couch in the garage, with her on the carpet by my side, snuggled up with a tee I'd worn most of the day. Once upon a time, she would go on runs with me and pull me along for a couple of miles before she would tire enough to merely keep up. These days, she can just keep up, and that for less than half a mile. Beyond that, I wouldn't even ask her to do more than walk. In people years, she is, after all, over 70.

If you share your life with a dog or dogs, go enjoy the movie. I don't think you'll regret it. And here's a tip: swallow and blink--it'll staunch those tears. Just try it sometime.

And by the way, Happy New Year.