Although I’d read the book–twice, read the reviews which basically panned the movie, scanned the negative blogs and heard from people who couldn’t even bring themselves to see the movie because they couldn’t stand the idea of watching a badly behaved dog with clueless owners, I still had to go see Marley & Me.

It wasn’t because I loved the book. The first time I read it, I thought it was okay, even a bit boring. What was all the fuss? About a year later, I read it again, this time with more interest. I liked the story better the second time, and appreciated Grogan’s fine-tuned writing style and humor.

But, my husband and I had to go to the movie because we owned a Yellow Lab, Hudson, who passed away two years ago. And I guess I was hoping that seeing that big oaf of a dog on the big screen would connect with me, would somehow ease the hurt that still lingers after all these years, from losing a dog we loved.

Hudson was not as naughty as Marley, but he was rambunctious, difficult to train, hardheaded and slightly dense at times. He loved to swim, even in the chill of October weather, and although he was a retriever, he was always oblivious to the ducks paddling by. Toward the end, he found it difficult to walk, or get up, or get down. His favorite place to sleep was on my husband’s feet, or if my husband wasn’t home, Hudson rested his head on Mike’s empty shoes.

The movie Marley & Me, unfortunately, did not live up to my hopes, which were very meager to begin with. The puppy Marley was cute, but somehow I never felt the movie gave us a connection with him, at any age. Even the canine actors looked completely different to me. I don’t mean the differences from puppy Marley to adult Marley–but even the different scenes of the same age Marley seemed to be played by totally different looking dogs. Although I like Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, they didn’t seem to do much besides yell “No Marley” sometimes with a bemused look on their face, and run back and forth across the screen as Marley knocked over lamps/babies/furniture/pedestrians/bistro tables or ate diapers/necklaces/walls.

Slight spoiler alert: if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie–and still plan to–don’t read this paragraph. I have to admit, there were a few scenes where Mike and I couldn’t hold back the tears. But it was not due to the movie plot, which did attempt to jerk every tear out of you it could in one prolonged scene, but because we were thinking about our Hudson. The big, old, yellow dog and, well you know…

Paws for Reflection: We all cried at Old Yeller, too. Right?