About a month ago, I joined a book club. It's fairly informal, but there's a great synergy that's created when a group of people read the same book at the same time.
The book we just finished was Marley and Me by John Grogan. The subtitle of the book is "life and love with the world's worst dog" and that aptly sums up the whole thing. Grogan did an excellent job of structuring the book with short, compelling chapters that wove his life events into the story of a rambunctious lab. A movie based on the book is currently in production and stars Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson as the Grogans. Despite his destructive tendencies and bad manners, the Grogans kept Marley - a choice too few pet owners make, based on the overflowing animal shelters across the United States.
For several years, I devoted all of my volunteer time to a local animal shelter. I spent every Saturday at adoption fairs, hoping to find homes for unwanted canines. When my youngest daughter was born, I stopped volunteering and as the girls grew older, school volunteering began to fill my schedule.
But, I have a large, furry reminder of those animal shelter days - my 10-year-old Irish Wolfhound mix, Grindl. Fortunately, he shares few traits with "the world's worst dog" from Grogan's book. He will steal food, given half a chance and thunderstorms do make him quite nervous. But he is never destructive and is not a digger or a chewer (he won't even play with chew toys!) He's a gentle soul that is utterly patient with the kids and is never aggressive. But, just like Marley, Grindl is a Great Dog who is loved by our family.