Marley and Me

Saturday, September 22, 2012


For those of you who do not know Marley, he is the best. For those of you that do, I don’t have to say this.

I met my friend and companion of the past 12 and a half years before I graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens. Marley was one of three dogs that roamed the Pine View neighborhood searching for food. They kept their distance from everyone living there but after many weeks of coaxing him closer with bits of food Marley finally came up to me and took what I had from my hand. He was timid and scared. He kept his head down and crawled inch by inch on all fours as I crouched on the ground with my hand held out. After taking the food he jumped back scarfing it down without chewing it and ran off.

I continued this routine with him for months, calling to him with food held out. Not making eye contact as he crept up to me to take what I had to give. Then one day he didn’t run off. He placed his head on my hand and let me pet him. He was shaking the entire time and I could see why. Marley had cigarette burns that were healing on his back and legs. He was also rail thin at the time. You could see all of his ribs easily through his thin coat. I decided then and there that I would give him a good home.

Marley moved in with me and my roommates. It was definitely a transition. As a new parent I had to learn all of his cues and signals. For example a big learning experience for me was one bright sunny day. We were riding in my car with the windows down. I got caught at a light and before I knew it I was stretched between the front seat and the back seat as Marley had decided to jump out of the window. The cars were stopped at that point so I had to figure out how to get him back in without letting go of his leash. Finally deciding I could not do this without choking him. I let go of the leash, threw the car into park and hopped out chasing after him. He ran to the side of the road and immediately went to the bathroom. As I made it to the side of the road he came trotting back to me, tail wagging and tongue out with that trademark smile on his face. We waited until the next red light made it back into the car safely and were back on our way. My heart stayed in my chest for the next 10 minutes. Another quirk that he has, as some of you have seen, is that when he gets excited he chomps his teeth together. He doesn’t bite but he snaps them hard and it’s a little scarey when you witness it for the first few times.  Sorry about that Jason.  Around this time in his life Marley was at my side 24/7. The poor pup actually came up with a mild case of separation anxiety. This made it particularly hard to go to class and it had nothing to do with senioritis. I promise mom and dad.

Fast forward to after graduation and our first move. We headed down the highway to south Florida. With the car packed we spent a year in the sunshine state. Work being what it was at the time we had some time to go to the beach. This is where I found out that although he didn’t like lakes or streams too much, Marley loved the ocean. He would chase the waves into the water and then scurry away as they came crashing back onto the sand. Only to do it all over again and again and again.  The dog and I also spent many a night curled up on the couch watching movies.

The remnants of an abused dog gone now, Marley loved to be loved. He would sit next to me with his head resting on my leg or nudging it underneath my hand. Although the dog had put on some weight and was something like 55 pounds he could fit himself into the tiniest spaces. A skill that he kept with him the rest of his life.

I’m not saying that this is my fault but Marley was spoiled. He hated laying on the floor. He would find a spot on any available furniture and loved to sleep in bed with me.  He was in fact a bed hog stretching out most nights and taking up at least half of a queen sized bed.

We returned from Florida and found a house with old college buddies in Cumming, Georgia. This is where Marley learned to socialize as each of the three of us had a dog. They would roam the fields behind the house and chase after field mice or squirrels or whatever else was roaming around back there. Marley also learned to catch a frisbee at this point. It wasn’t something he did often but if you got him excited enough he would fly through the air with his teeth chomping all over the place. Cumming was also his first encounter with snow. The dog loved it. He would throw himself face first into snow banks and make doggy snow angels. It was an odd site to see.

After a few years of living in the country Marley turned into a city dog. Destiny and I moved to downtown Atlanta.  This is where we learned of his love of pillow forts. He also liked the island game trying to jump from couch to chair and back without touching the floor.

We also learned he loved to be outside during summer storms.


And of course eating snowballs in the winter.




Having spent some years downtown Marley was tired of pavement and traffic. He convinced me to move north to Fitchburg, Massachusetts. A small town that still had pavement but also lots of state parks. Massachusetts is also small enough that you could easily travel to other states in only a few hours. This is where Marley loved to hike and camp.





Marley especially loved roaming the White Mountains in New Hampshire off leash. We would hike along the many trails there and let him roam. We could hear him trailing after some smell or another as we made our way up the mountains. And if we took too long he would come back to check on us with this look on his face that said hurry up you have got to smell this smell up here.

Another of his favorite places is a little park in Lancaster called Dexter Drumlin. It was a huge open space that climbed a hill overlooking the farmland below. He would run all the way up the hill to get to the top to survey the area before plunging into tall grass to go exploring.









While in Massachusetts, Marley made many dear friends. With their love and support he ran for mayor and according to a Sentinel & Enterprise front page story Marley won in a landslide. His efforts to clean up the city were unfortunately short lived due to, what some call a setup by cats, and he wound up with snow in the face.

Luckily for Marley, he was pretty much immune.

After taking Christmas to recover from his political career…


And spending a lot of time in bed



Marley found a few new friends….

He spent more time hiking around the woods of Massachusetts








It was on one of these hikes that we learned of Marley’s true identity. Since the time I was acquainted with my friend, I had always assumed that he was a mut and probably a lab and shepherd mix. Being a rescue I had no actual idea. On a hike up Wachusett Mountain in Westminster we finally found the truth. We found his twin. From then on we knew that Marley was a Carolina Dog otherwise known as the Southeastern or Dixie Dingo. I was apparently very confused by this information.

After a while Marley was tired of playing games.

We decided it was time to move back to Georgia. We packed up our stuff, said goodbye to our friends and headed home.

We’ve spent the past four years back in Norcross and have had a blast. Although the snow is not as high nor the trails as far, we have spent these years making a home. Marley was happy.

On Saturday, September 22, 2012 I had to say goodbye to my companion, my confidant, my friend.  He was 18 years old.

He was the best dog a boy could ask for.

7 comments to “Marley and Me”
7 comments to “Marley and Me”
  1. JP,
    Great story about a great friend. No way I’m gonna call Marley a dog, he was more than that.

    Like I’ve always told my kids, when you get a “best friend” you know that you’ll only have them for so long. All you can do is make sure you can look back on your time together and know that you gave him the best home he could ever have.

    Knowing you and Marley, there’s not a doubt in my mind that he enjoyed every minute with you and DK!

    Love ya bro!

  2. This is amazing, Jonathan. I’m so sorry for the loss. Marley was incredible and you both gave him and incredible life.
    He was the best and most effective mayor of Fitchburg that I had the pleasure to meet.

  3. This is beautiful. I’m so sorry for your loss, but smiling reading this and knowing what a wonderful life you and Destiny gave Marley. He was such a sweetheart, and I’ll never forget the time HE took ME for a walk when I visited you guys in Georgia. I’m so happy I was lucky enough to know him.

  4. What a perfect tribute, Mr. Jonathan. His story needed to be told because it was an incredible one. I was shocked to learn Marley was abused and used to be afraid of people. He let everyone hug him so much, with that smile on his face as if he were hugging you right back, that I can’t believe anybody ever missed out on that!

  5. I’m so sorry to hear about Marley. He sounds like he was a wonderful part of your family. Our fur babies are so precious to us. They love so unconditionally.

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