Alright, we did it.

We watched the movie. I didn’t want to… especially after I read all my friends’ Facebook status updates saying, “Just say Marley and Me and cried like a baby at the end.” No way… did not want to see it. Yes. I cried. Like a baby. Stupid movie. *growl*

See. I had my own Marley when I was a kid. Her name was Muffy, and my parents bought her when I was only three years old. They went to the pound in Atlanta and looked at the dogs. She was the runt of the litter and literally could sit on the palm of my mom’s hand. The workers didn’t think she’d live all that long, but they let us have her. As I grew up, Muffy was my best friend and playmate. One of the most annoying and endearing qualities she had was tugging on my pants’ leg(s). She grew to be a good-sized dog (around forty-five pounds, I think) and could easily drag me around the yard until I was around ten or twelve years old.

My parents separated and divorced when I was about six. My mother and I moved back to her home town and found a little duplex to live in. We were in a fairly decent neighborhood, but we lived next to a huge storm drainage ditch, a railroad and a highway. It was an interesting place to live, but I liked it. I remember taking a shovel out by the side of the house and trying to dig a tunnel to China — don’t most kids do that? I started hitting hard clay and rocks about two feet down and gave up. Muffy tried to help but got bored and ran after some cars.

Anyway, we would get some pretty bad storms in the area, and I would see the water rise pretty high in the drainage ditch and get concerned — I was only a kid. So, in my desperation, I decided to draw plans of my escape possibilities. I would build a submersible go-cart (peddle-powered) and use it to take my mom, Muffy and myself to safety if ever a flood should hit too close to the house. Of course, I never actually built the K-sub, but it was my dream. And Muffy was always part and parcel of the escape, with her requisite “Woof” or “Arf” in art form descriptively giving tell to the seriousness of our situation.

I used to lie on the floor next to her and put my head on her belly while she rested, singing an Elvis medley of “Hounddog” and “Love Me Tender”. She was my darling dog, and I couldn’t imagine life without this dearest of friends.

She stayed by my side through my childhood and adolescence. I graduated from high school and took off to a ten-day trek through the Sangre de Christo mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was awesome and one of the experiences that “made me into a man.”

Several things happened on that trip that helped me learn to “be a man.” Perhaps the hardest thing was learning from my mother that Muffy had run away shortly after I had left for New Mexico (within hours) and that she had not been seen for two days. (I didn’t call home until we’d been gone about two days.) I was heartbroken, but not completely forlorn. I knew she’d be back when I got off the trail after ten days.

She wasn’t.

She didn’t come when I called, driving through the blocks around my home, yelling for my beloved mutt to come home to me. My Muffy was gone.

She was fifteen, going blind, deaf and getting arthritic. She knew what she was doing, but it hurt.

And Marley and Me just let me live that all over again.

Thank you for such a horrible, funny, heart-wrenching, touching movie. I may not forgive those who made it for bringing such reality out in film (of course I will). You all hit a homerun with this one.

I miss you Muffy. I love you, my “best friend forever.”