Jan 152009

There is a conceptual fallacy that has existed for many years but seems to have recently increased in popularity.  It is the notion of the bad puppy: my puppy is so bad he ate my favorite shoe, knocked over grandma, chewed through a wall, dug up the yard, destroyed a pillow, drug a table around, pooped in a museum, chased a cat, jumped out a second story window, knocked a window out of my car, humped a pillow, got mud on my shirt on my way to work, got out of the fence, got on the counter, stole the steaks, released the parking brake, set the curtains on fire, peed on my bed…

Let me share a slightly painful insight with you—these are not bad puppies, they are just puppies owned by idiots.  The amount of trouble your puppy gets into is a measure of your IQ, not his mischievousness.

I know, it hurts and you want to deny it.  Don’t.  Believe me, whatever your puppy has done, I have seen it.  My house has raised countless puppies of every variety, lions, hyenas, raccoons, crows, lemurs, antelope, skunks, wolves, coyotes, goats, chickens, rats, kinkajou, etc.  I have seen things destroyed that you would not believe. I have seen my house flooded and my car’s interior completely destroyed, and I can honestly tell you it is almost always the owner’s fault… 

If it seems like your puppy is more trouble than any other puppy, it simply means you are messing up more.  You are failing to imagine the trouble he can get into, you are making mistakes.  Sure, some puppies have more energy or are more destructive, but they all follow the same immutable laws of nature. They chew, they dig, they run, they jump, they climb, and they get into exactly as much trouble as you allow, no less and no more. 

Don’t feel too bad about this.  One of the many gifts your puppy will give you is humility.  He will remind you that for all your vaunted higher reasoning skills, your thumbs, your speech and writing skills, you can still be outwitted by a ten week old puppy with boundless energy…

 January 15, 2009  Posted by at 10:20 am Tagged with: , , ,

  3 Responses to “The Marley Fallacy”

  1. AMEN! Every time I see the trailer for this movie, I see nothing funny or cute about it….I see a dog out of control with no leadership, and as you said, idiots as owners–BOTH badly in need of training! I’ve heard people brag about how bad their puppy or dog is as if it is something to be proud of….to own a recalcitrant canine, and if you offer help, they are not interested because they genuinely seem to enjoy their animal being that way; but yet, they will comment on how “smart” mine are and wish theirs was smart. Actually, mine are very average. They just have been trained.

    It was reassuring to me to see someone else comment about “Marley and Me”. And it took ALOT of training to get all the Marleys ready to perform as actors!

  2. The movie (and book) are offensive to me because it portrays ignorant, poor-quality ownership as ‘cute’ and ‘normal’. That’s a very damaging message.

  3. What also bothers me is the owner who almost seems proud of what their dog has done. (I want to say, Is this all you have to be proud of in your life?”). There are many things dogs do which we can be proud of and thankful for but being a wave of destruction similar to Sherman’s march is not one of them.

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