Boycott Marley & Me If You Are a Dog Lover

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Sunday 21 December 2008 at 7:25 pm

Normally, I like to keep things fairly light around here, and of course, write about crafts, but after seeing the one-zillionth commercial last night about the new movie coming out this Christmas called Marley & Me, as a dog lover, I feel compelled to blog about it. This movie, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, is based on the book by the same title, and I read it a few years ago when I was working in the local library. It was a very popular book and had a picture on the front of an adorable lab, so I was suckered in. At first, I found it pretty funny because I also have had a few lab or lab mixes over the years as pets (Rocky-BooBoo is showing his stuff off at the top of this blog post in fact), and while they are the most loving dogs ever created, they are probably one of the most difficult to train as well.

The more I read, the less I laughed and the more I cried. The characters, which are supposedly based on a real life experience of the author, were not just stupid but actually cruel to Marley. In one scene, the wife is dealing with postpartum depression. The husband comes home to find her freaking out and literally beating the dog with her fists. Other scenes have them closing him up for hours in a garage all alone, only later to find something he’s destroyed because he is scared to be alone in the garage during a thunderstorm. (This takes place in Florida, so hello! We have a lot of storms down here folks!)

How is any of this funny? Who would want to see a movie like this, let alone put money in the pocket of the person who abused this dog and the Hollywood industry that wants to also make a buck off of it?

Finally, to top it off, the story ends when the family, now with the addition of children, decides that they want to go to Disney on a family vacation, but then there’s the dog who is now old and ill. What are they to do? Well, of course, they decide to put the dog down so they can go see Mickey Mouse, makes perfect sense to these cold and horrible people.

Other than the fact that this story is sick, my real concern is the many people who may watch the movie and think, “He is so cute. We should get a dog!” Considering this book was a best seller and now turned into a major motion picture, obviously a majority of people think the treatment of this dog was okay, that pets are throw-away objects to be discarded when we tire of them or find them inconvenient. By releasing this movie during the holiday season, this could very well mean more incompetent, cruel people might decide to buy that little puppy with the red ribbon around its neck without realizing that puppies turn into full grown dogs in just a few years, and along the way that means lots of chewing, barking, barfing, peeing, and general destruction along with lots of unconditional, unquestioning love and loyalty.

Anyone who claims to be a dog lover, I merely asked that you boycott this movie and the book, which is now coming out in reprints. And if you know of anyone who is thinking about seeing the movie, feel free to pass along the URL to this post or better yet point them to the many bad reviews posted on from readers who felt exactly like I do.


  1. Comment by Dan — December 21, 2008 @ 9:29 pm

    OMG, is that really how it ends??? That’s horrible! I had heard that it was “emotional”, so I assumed that he died somehow, but seriously…so they could go to Disney? Thank you SOOOO much for the spoiler…that would have really ticked me off if I went to see it…grrr…

  2. Comment by Tammy — December 21, 2008 @ 9:49 pm

    That’s the book. I haven’t seen, nor will see, the movie, but yes, check out the 1 star amazon reviews and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  3. Comment by Jill — December 21, 2008 @ 11:49 pm

    THANK YOU for warning me – I was totally looking forward to seeing the movie, but now I’ll avoid it like the plague! If these events do indeed happen in the movie too, I’d be a sobbing, broken down wreck in the movie theater.

  4. Comment by Rebecca — December 22, 2008 @ 9:39 am

    Thank you for writing this. I read the reviews on Amazon and my heart hurts thinking about poor Marley and all he went through. It sickens me that these people are profiting from this.

  5. Comment by Tammy — December 22, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

    Thanks for the support everyone. I almost didn’t write this because I know not everyone feels the same way I do when it comes to animals.

  6. Comment by Jeanne — December 22, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

    I can’t believe that’s what this movie is about! Thanks for the heads up. I definitely will not be seeing this movie over my winter break. I have two dogs and would do anything in the world for them (including a very expensive surgery for one tomorrow). I can’t imagine putting them down just to go on a vacation!

  7. Comment by Sara Hardin — December 23, 2008 @ 12:47 pm

    I feel like you read a totally different book than I did. I’m a total dog lover and I never read it as if the owners were abusing their dog. I thought it was a really nice testimonial about the amazing relationships that form between a dog and their family. The people weren’t perfect. The dog wasn’t perfect. But the relationship and the love between the people and the dog was perfect.

  8. Comment by Perrito — December 23, 2008 @ 12:56 pm


    I obviously read a different book than you did.

    The Marley and Me I read was about a family that did not learn the breed before they bought it and had to pattern their life around a typhoon of a dog because they were ill equipped to deal with the dog’s needs. I don’t think the book endorses getting a dog you cannot control.

    Despite the fact that Marley is a huge handful, they never abuse him and they cater to his needs to make him happy. They share their life with Marley and always make sure he is happy even when he is at his most destructive.

    He is not put down as a throw-away animal. Where did you come up with that? Quality of life is always the answer when you are deciding to put a dog to sleep. Marley is arthritic and ailing when the time finally comes and it is a heavy loss to the entire family.

    The moral I took away is sometimes the things in your life that are the most destructive, most unsympathetic are also the most joyous and life-loving creatures to have with you. Even though Marley was a tsunami of an animal, the author loved him and Marley enriched his life.

    The book doesn’t conceal the fact that the author made a poor choice and adopted a ‘cute’ dog rather than study what dog might be better suited to his lifestyle. He doesn’t endorse getting a dog. He merely says that he decided to live with an animal that was sometimes difficult, rather than abandon it and he was able to see how beautiful Marley was despite his bad manners.

  9. Comment by Tammy — December 23, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

    Hi Sara – If beating your dog with your fists isn’t abuse, then I’m not sure what else is. Maybe the owners loved the dog, but they did not treat it humanely.

  10. Comment by Tammy — December 23, 2008 @ 1:19 pm

    Perrito – The family puts the dog down so they can go on vacation. That is a fact that is in the book I read. I’ve taken care of plenty of elderly dogs. I made a commitment to taking care of them until the end. These folks didn’t do that. I’m not saying there weren’t medical issues with the dog. In fact, I mentioned that in my post, but from the story I remember that was not the main reason they put him down. They wanted to go on vacation. They had already left him at some other kennels before and he had freaked and made his condition worse. So, rather than put him in a kennel again which they knew would probably kill him or rather than having someone stay home to take care of him while the rest of the family went on vacation, they decided to have him put down so they could go to Disney. I never suggested there was anything concealed in the book. Granted there’s the “happy, la la la” side of the book, but to me, it was overshadowed by the horrific treatment of the dog.

  11. Comment by Diane Yule — December 27, 2008 @ 12:44 pm

    Tammy, I completely concur with you. Please dog lovers out there – do not support this film. A friend gave me the book as a gift and the further I read, the more appalled I became. Downright negligence and cruelty were involved in the treatment of this dog – proof?
    a) You do not leave a dog alone all day in a boiling hot Florida garage with no stimulus or company.
    b)You do not physically attack a living creature because your hormones have gone crazy.
    c) You do not knee a dog in the chest to stop him jumping. (There are many other methods involving kindness and patience – virtues which his owners were completely devoid of).
    d) You do not go on a jolly to Disneyland when your devoted pet is dying and needs you.

    Life with the world’s worst pet? Life with the world’s worst owners I’d say. If Marley was naughty it was because he didn’t receive the time, care and training he needed and deserved.

    It makes me spit blood to think the author is lining his coffers with even more money from the sale of the film rights. He and his wife are two complete egotists with their heads so far up their own asses I doubt they even realized what mental, emotional and physical damage they were doing to that poor dog.

  12. Comment by Catherine — December 27, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

    I had googled boycotting Marley since the movie trailer disturbs me so much with the dog running outside the car on his front paws. I don’t remember anything like that in the book and am appalled that Hollywood has no moral conscience or that the Humane Society doesn’t monitor movies that make such garbage.
    I just hope to get the message out to not promote this movie.

  13. Comment by Susan — December 28, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

    Hey, everyone!
    I went to see the movie, as I hadn’t read the book, didn’t see anything about boycotting, and thought it looked cute. While there were some parts that I (and many other animal lovers probably would have) disagreed with, I thought it was very good. The dog was NOT put down so the family could go on vacation, he had a twisted stomach for the second time, and the vet said there was nothing further that could be done (it was a miracle that he recovered the first time…). It was very heartbreaking, they held a funeral in the backyard for Marley, and the whole family (Mom, Dad, and three or four – I can’t remember now, I think four – kids) was in tears. The mom did want to give the dog away at one point when she was suffering from post partum depression, and was majorly overwhelmed with all of the kids, and an unruly dog, but she later realized that Marley is “family” and they could NEVER get rid of him. So as long as people watch the whole movie, the right message does get out there – “Animals are members of the family and are NOT disposable!” If the book is as you say, then definitely boycott the book, but, in my humble opinion (and I am a big animal lover) the movie does not need to be boycotted. Thanks for listening, and if you still wish to boycott, that is your prerogative.

  14. Comment by Tammy — December 28, 2008 @ 2:54 pm

    Hi Susan, Thanks for the report. I still don’t plan to see the movie and feel this is important for anyone who believes as I do, but it is interesting to know that they changed the ending some what. In the book, there is the stomach issue, but it was originally brought on by stress from Marley being left at a kennel while the family went on vacation. They wanted to leave again for another vacation (this time to Disney) but knew he would not be able to handle it. Rather than not go, they put him down. Did they show the scene when the mother beats the dog? Doesn’t sound like it. I still feel that by going to see the movie this supports the author of the book who mistreated this animal.

  15. Comment by Steve Dale — December 29, 2008 @ 12:44 am

    Did folks who commented here even see the movie? There is NO beating of Marley in the postpartum depression scene. No one beats on the dog. No one. In fact, in a scene when Jen (Jennifer Aniston’s character) has a baby die before giving birth Marley comforts her, and John (Owen Wilson’s character) watches Marley – the dog comfort her. He then realizes, and only then does he realizes, he should to. The scene you describe has a fed-up and depressed Jen at her wit’s end being exasperated by the kids and the dog. She does not beat the dog, or hit the dog. She wants the dog gone. Same day or next day (don’t honestly recall) she apologizes to John, and says Marley lives here. Many dog owners become frustrated, and when you have young kinds too, well, good luck! Isn’t that real life? I am about to write a story of lessons learned from this movie, including how “dominating a dog” and putting a training collar (choke collar) doesn’t necessarily work without also finding a way to get the dog’s attention through motivation. The trainer in this movie (played by Kathleen Turner) says, ‘you have to dominate’…and do this and this. Her method, popularized by the TV trainer, of course, does not work. Listen, I’m not saying the movie is without criticism, arguably celebrating an unruly and untrained and misbehaved dog (it’s not the world’s worst dog, and argument for world’s worst owners? Could be…not quite though – world’s worst just give up on dogs they can’t handle or are unwilling or unable to train). But obviously the family stuck with the crazy Marley dog, and loved him. Marley was never given up on. The message IS dogs are NOT disposable. And the movie in FACT was certified by American Humane. And the director has five rescued dogs at home. You can read an interview with the director and hear an interview for yourself on my website. I’m certain this is not Citizen Kane, nor is it the funniest comedy I’ve ever seen. In fact, without giving anything away here, the ending was tough for me and my wife to handle. But at least let’s get the facts right. The messages here are generally good one – See the movie, and get the facts straight on what is really on the big screen before you begin to write. I agree with at least one other post, the movie does not need to be boycotted…Instead, boycott puppy mills by not buying at a pet store, etc. There’s lots more that can be done. In fact, maybe if the movie does well at the box office, we can see more movies with dogs being dogs rather than talking depictions.

  16. Comment by Steve Dale — December 29, 2008 @ 12:45 am

    My print interview with the director, and audio from a radio interview:

  17. Comment by Tammy — December 29, 2008 @ 8:52 am

    Thank you for your comment, Steve, and I agree about boycotting puppy mills, especially because I’m concerned that after this movie many people like the clueless author of the book will go out and purchase lab puppies from such places. You can’t deny that even with the possibility that some people who watch the movie might get the fact that labs are difficult dogs to train, more than likely this movie will only make this very popular breed even more popular. Hopefully, I’m wrong. Hopefully, loving, patient, and understanding movie-goers will head to their local animal shelter and adopt lots of dogs and give them a safe home.

    I still do not plan to see the movie because I feel that would be endorsing the book, even though there have been significant changes for the good in the storyline from what you report. You said, “See the movie, and get the facts straight on what is really on the big screen before you begin to write.” I still stick by what I wrote because my reasons for the boycott is the book, which I read, and which is also supposedly a memoir, as in a true story. Have you read the book?

  18. Comment by Doris — December 29, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

    Thank you, Tammy! This is an excellent reason to boycott the movie!

    Catherine, animals in movies are monitored by American Humane Association, not the Humane Society of the US. A lot of people confuse those two organizations. The AHA’s monitoring leaves a lot to be desired. Two horses were killed during the filming of the movie “My Friend Flicka,” but they gave the movie their stamp of approval anyway.

  19. Comment by Tammy — December 29, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

    Thank you for your information on AHA versus HS, Doris. I did kind of wonder what the deal was with AHA. I’m not that familiar with them.

  20. Comment by Kenneth Fron — December 30, 2008 @ 7:24 pm

    i saw it thrice times!

  21. Comment by Steve — December 30, 2008 @ 9:10 pm

    Thanks for the headsup. I don’t know what the plague is in Hollywood that dictates many movies about an animal has to end with his/her death (Old Yeller, Turner and Hooch, The Yearling, etc.) I can’t even stand to see fake violence against an animal. Steve

  22. Comment by coffee buzz — January 3, 2009 @ 1:34 am

    judging by the box office, it looks like Jennifer Aniston is giving Brad Pitt a run for his money…

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