Friday, April 17, 2009

Marley and NOT Me

I don't consider myself a dog person. In fact, I've always identified myself as a cat person, and I've always had a cat. It isn't that I don't appreciate dogs, because I do. I've even felt affection for a few, owned by others. I have seen the bond that dogs and their masters have, and it warms me. Dogs are like people, almost. I get that. But they smell. Although puppies are about the cutest things ever, puppy breath is not cute. While I appreciate the sentiment, the thought of a dog licking my face makes me want to hurl. I hate that their fur smells greasy and dog-like, even after a bath. I hate that I can't pet a dog and not smell my hands, and then not wash my hands. I hate that they chew everything and have to be walked and have to be socialized, and then you have to pick up their poop. I have enough poop to clean up. And they bark. And they scare people. And you have to do so much for them and with them. And you know how the more you do, the more you love? I know what would happen.

But I think the real reason I cannot be a dog person is evident after watching Marley and Me last night. I cannot love a dog, because a dog will die. And I cannot handle that.

It's hard enough when cats die, or even the hamster, for heaven's sake. I get so attached to animals, to pets. They are a part of the family and they should live forever. But imagining the bond that I would share with a dog, that is so much more interactive and human-like than a cat? I might never recover. I started crying during the movie at Marley's first sign of sickness. I knew what was coming, and it was just too much. When they said their goodbyes? Please. I was sobbing. Sobbing! And I cried for a good thirty minutes after the movie ended, and it wasn't even my dog, and I'm not even a dog person!

My first Christmas being married (the first time), my sweet husband surprised me. He took me to a house to "pick something up" and when he came out, he walked over to my side of the Jeep and unveiled from beneath his bulky green Gap sweatshirt was a white ball of fluff. A Persian kitten with blue eyes that we named Corey. I loved that kitty. He lived with us for seven years, and loved on two of our children, and then one night, at 2am, a knock on the door.

"Your cat's been attacked by three dogs," the neighbor reported, and pointed to a white pile in the middle of the street where Corey lay.

Adam went and scooped him up and wrapped him in a towel and laid him on the porch before me. I was shaking and sobbing. Lyndsay and Dylan were still sleeping, thank goodness. My sister, Abby, lived with us, and was up too. Corey was still alive, but in bad shape. His back was probably broken and he was matted with blood and dog spit. He lay motionless and just looked at me. I petted him and whispered of my love for him. Adam said, "We have to, Jenna," and I knew what he meant. "I know," I said.

That act, one of the hardest of my life, was done purely out of love. Adam got his gun, and took Corey out back. I went inside, absolutely a mess, and sat on Abby's bed holding on to her, trying my best to not throw up while I waited in agony for that shot to be fired. When it did, it about killed me too. Poor Adam. He was deeply affected by having to help our kitty, and let him rest. He brought me in Corey's blue collar, with the jingle bell, and we sat and both of us just balled.

The next day I went out in the yard and gathered up a piece of his fur and the bullet casing. I still keep them in a drawer in my jewelry box with his collar. The children were broken-hearted in the morning (though they weren't told for years how Corey actually died), and for about a week tears flowed freely. Every picture, random memories, it all just flooded through our family.

That was a horrible time.

And now, we have another cat. And he better never die. Or the bunny. It's just too much. I grieve too hard. Even when our family cat, Sassy, passed away, after 17 years and long after I'd moved out of the house, it was a dark day in my heart. I miss her.

So, I loved the movie. I cannot read the book, because I can't go there again. It's just too emotional, and it will only confirm to me why I can never have a dog. The dog I would want would be big and fluffy and smart and part of the family. And I just can't risk him dying.

No thank you.


Don said...

Yeah, we saw that last week. We sat and watched most of the end credits so eyes would have a chance to dry.

I'm not looking forward to the day the first guinea pig dies. I'm not sure how I'll handle the trauma and drama. Not me personally (it's hard to get attached to a rodent that runs away at the very sight of me) but my daughter, who actually seems to have developed a rapport with the things. She's handled dead fish pretty well, but these are the first "real" pets, and it's going to be hard when it ends.

Wonder Woman said...

I almost choked on my mac & cheese when you said the cat had been attacked my three dogs. And I was nearly in tears and couldn't eat while I read about what you had to do.

Which brings me to the fact that you are a much better person than me because I do NOT connect with animals! Never have. We never had pets growing up, and that was just fine with me. My husband, however, always had pets.

We now have two dogs. And I'm not a fan of theirs for every reason you listed. I guess I just can't get past all those things to have a real connection to them. We only have them because I love my husband.

Misty said...

Funny... I'm reading your post and thinking "But Jenna... Dogs..." Because I myself am a dog lover...

HOWEVER- yes. I agree. I grieve deeply too. When I listened to the book (audio) on a trip with my family, I thought it was some funny dog story. When Marley got sick, I sobbed for chapters- uncontrollably. People passing us on the freeway must have thought horrible things of my husband.

we did see the movie (twice) and I was a wreck everytime. As my oldest dog, gets older and i see changes in her- my heart BREAKS... I am terrified. I know that losing them will be like losing a best friend/child/family member (even though I don't pretend they are my kids) and I fear it... I probably won't have dogs once they are gone. I just hope that's a REALLY long time from now.

Abby said... totally just ruined the movie!'s okay. I haven't seen it yet..but it's at the top of my Netflix list. Poor Orion..he's such a dog lover that he'll weep. There will be definite weepage.

I'm not a dog fan because of every reason you listed. I Can't stand the smell of dogs. Claim they're clean all you hand still stinks after I touch one. Ew. I'm a total cat lover..but I have a feeling I'll be giving in at some point so Orion and the boys can have their dog. Little boys need a dog..or so I'm told.

I remember that night with Corey oh so well. I wrote about it in my journal when it happened. The kids did wake up..but they didn't get out of bed. I remember Dylan crying from the sounds of the dogs vs cat. I remember going to their rooms and consoling them back to sleep. They were too young to understand what was going on anyway. A horrible night for sure!

Rachel Sue said...

That is the saddest cat story I have ever heard. My husband is allergic to both dogs and cats, so sadly, one will never darken our doorstep.
But I did have a cat growing up and he died about 2 years ago. And even though I hadn't lived at home for over 6 years when he died, I just sobbed when I found out. I couldn't even tell my kids that Grandpa's cat had died. I had to make my husband do it because I couldn't get the words out. So, I know exactly what you mean. And while I am a little sad that we will never be able to have a pet, at the same time, I'm okay with the fact that my kids won't have to go through that.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

My feelings EXACTLY. I claim I'm not a dog person, but really, I'm just too scared.

Turleygirl said...

Ok, I hope this comes out right. I too am a hard griever. I am very sensitive about death having lost a child, 2 sisters and many animals but here's the reality. We are ALL going to die at some point. Every single one of us....humans, cats, dogs, rabbits, fish and the list goes on & on. That doesn't mean that we can't let people or animals into our hearts. Loving eachother is a healthy part of life and quite frankly a necessity. We need love. Right? I hope you don't think I am being insensitive to your story. I just know that you have so much love to give and it makes me sad that you are holding back, even just a little.
Happy owner of 1 adorable dog, 2 african tortoises & 6 chickens.
P.S. I've also had cats before and loved them too.

Jenna said...

Marcy, I loved your comment, and I understand where you're coming from. And if all those other things that I hate about dogs weren't in the picture, I'd probably get one. I'm a sucker for cute and furry. But I have my hands full anyway, and dogs deserve better than what I have to give. I'll give my love away, don't worry. Want some? You got it anyway. :)

YogaNana said...

I've also had pets die in horrible ways and I won't even invoke them here because you kids may have forgotten -- and frankly I don't want to think too much about them, either. But for the time they have, for the time we can share with them, animals are a really important part of life to me.

Of course, I *do* want a dog -- or two or three (and that thump was David passing out when he read that :o) ) -- but I actually like the smell of dogs. Not the poop, but I didn't like baby poop, either. It just -- happens. You may have seen the bumper stickers. :o) And I'm already cleaning up cat poop, might as well at least have an animal that gives me exercise in the fresh air while cleaning up after it.

I also love the smell of horses, but I can't even pretend we'll ever have the space or the energy for one of those. But a nice big (or even not-so-big) hairy dog ...

For now, we've got four cats, two of them getting up there in years. I know, it's going to be really hard when they go. But right now, they're wonderful.

Btw, I have Marley but hadn't seen it yet. S'okay -- I'll be prepared for the ending. :o)


Saint Holiday said...

I believe we will be reunited with our deceased animal friends someday, as we will be with our family members who leave us grieving. This is a blessing the Lord will provide. Meanwhile, we suffer these separations, often intensely. because we are spiritually alive and our hearts are tender. True love is eternal, like the love I feel for you right now.


Raelene said...

I'll say it, I am a CAT LOVER*!* I too love puppies and have raised them, but there is nothing like a purring cat to relieve stress. It takes me a long time to recover from the loss of my beloved pets.
I sobbed liked crazy when my neighbors chicken was mauled by her dogs, and it wasn't even my chicken. When our cat Cookie was so sick it was awful to have to euthanize her. Nick is 17 now and keeps very active with 5 year old Cooper around, but I know the day is soon coming that he will leave us. Nick is so loving and his love is unconditional. I freak out now when he sneaks out of the house and I can't find him. I know I will be a total basket case when he dies. I would love to see the movie, thanks for the heads up.

Luisa Perkins said...

The dog DIES? I am for sure not seeing it now.

Jacquie said...

Delurking to say, have you read the book?? I did before I watched the movie and I have to say it was so well written. I have never laughed so hard reading a book.