Tag Archives: John Grogan

Let decaying dogs lie: Some stories are better not told

Marley and Me is a 2005 book by John Grogan about his poorly behaved dog, and how it becomes part of his family and how it dies. It later became a movie in 2008.

In 2010, John Grogan wrote in Parade magazine that when Marley “died in 2003, I buried him on the edge of the woods at the house where we then lived,” and then, when he moved to a new house, he dug up the dog he’d buried “five years earlier.”

Grogan writes, “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.”

He’d worried that “exhuming our beloved bad boy sounded like the kind of behavior I normally attribute to ‘those nutty dog people,'” but as a sort of nutty dog person myself, I think this goes a little beyond the pale. I didn’t dig up my beloved dirt-bound canine when we moved a few years ago — dead is dead. I imagine that after five years, Marley was decomposed down to bones, or maybe, wrapped in plastic, Marley was a stinking, rotting cadaver.

I’d first read this a few years back, and in recent weeks it came to mind as I was telling my students that Marley and Me was a sweet and sad movie that ended with a dog’s death, as a lot of stories about beloved dogs seem to end. And then I told my students how creepy it was that the dog was dug up after five years of putrefaction. (A video of that in the DVD extras would surely change the tone of the movie.) So I’m posting this “he really did that?” story here to remind students to think about what stories of themselves they’d really want out in the public.

I don’t mean to tell Grogan how to feel or what to do with his dog’s long-dead carcass, but I do think that maybe telling this story makes him seem a little more ghoulish than average “nutty dog people.”