Unexpected Delights has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

January 21, 2010

The Final Marley Chapter

I know that many of you didn’t partake in the Marley and Me book and/or movie (wise move I cried like a baby for two days afterwards) but this final chapter in the “Marley” story that appeared recently in Parade Magazine was one that I thought was too touching not to share. It just proves that there is a little bit of that “crazy dog” person in all of us! (yeah you might need one tissue but I promise not the whole box :)

Bringing Marley Home
by John Grogan

published in Parade Magazine: 01/03/2010

Sometimes even bad dogs end up doing great things. And so it was with Marley, the world’s worst dog. What I did not fully realize during his 13 years with my wife, Jenny, and me was just what a good story our incorrigible Labrador retriever had to tell.

Then I wrote Marley & Me, and everything changed. The book grew into an international best seller and a hit movie—and millions more fell in love with our eternally mischievous pooch. Good dogs, it turns out, are highly overrated.

Marley & Me brought my family many blessings. I quit my newspaper job to write books, and Jenny and I were able to realize a long-held dream. We had always wanted to live in one of those stone farmhouses that dot the Pennsylvania landscape. Now we bought a house, fixed it up, and moved in. An old claptrap cottage on the property became my writing studio. We planted a garden and filled a once-abandoned coop with baby chicks. Our two new Labs, Woodson—adopted from the Marley & Me movie set—and Gracie, “the good one,” romped joyfully through the fields. We reveled in every day.

It was all because of Marley. Had he been a better dog, more controllable and behaved, there would have been no story. I found my inspiration in all that he did wrong—and in the way he challenged us, forging us into a stronger, closer family.

There was only one thing missing, and that was Marley. When he died in 2003, I buried him on the edge of the woods at the house where we then lived. Now that house stood vacant with a FOR SALE sign in the front yard.

From our new home, it nagged at us. Finally, one morning, Jenny blurted out what we’d both been thinking: “What about Marley? We can’t just leave him behind.” I resisted at first. The thought of exhuming our beloved bad boy sounded like the kind of behavior I normally attribute to “ those nutty dog people.”

But Marley was no ordinary pet. He would forever be a beacon of loyalty and trust, a life force that changed us forever. We knew what we had to do.

And so on a clear, crisp day, Jenny and I arrived at our soon-to-be-sold house with shovels and a pickax. Five years earlier, I’d marked his grave with three large stones. I quickly found them amid the brambles. We began to dig. We dug and dug. And dug. Then we widened our circle, convinced we had missed the mark. Soon we were coated in sweat and dirt. Our backyard looked like a major archaeological site. Where was he?

“That dog is still up to his old tricks,” Jenny said, and we both had to laugh, remembering what an escape artist he had been. As it turned out, I’d forgotten just how deeply I had buried him.

Eventually, we found his remains—still neatly packaged in the heavy black plastic we had buried him in—and carefully lifted them out of the ground. “You didn’t think we’d forget you, did you?” I said aloud.

Back at our new home, Jenny and I quickly settled on the perfect resting place: a bluff behind the barn overlooking a meadow filled with milkweed and Queen Anne’s lace. It was a spot where deer came each dawn to browse, and I knew Marley would have loved that.

I swung the pickax down hard. In the rocky clay, I had to fight for every inch. I worked steadily until I stood, grimy and out of breath, in a waist-deep hole. Jenny and I lowered him down. “We love you, Marley, and always will,” she said.

Alone, I finished up and finally wrestled a rock in place as a marker. Then I fell back beside it. “You’re home again, old friend,” I whispered, patting the earth. “With your family, right where you belong.”

Photo Courtesy:
John Grogan


  1. Love this - that's my favorite book. I forwarded the article to my family, thanks for sharing!

  2. Dude...you are killin' me! The whole Marley story reminds me of my Birchie! Sad!