John Grogan’s Marley & Me

John Grogan’s autobiographical Marley & Me is a funny, honest and heart-warming story not just about the life of the eponymous Marley, but the family he was adopted into and the inevitable ups and downs of their lives, shared with their faithful – if a little chaotic – dog. Taking him from puppyhood right through to older age, the book is full of humour and love in equal measure; and the comedy jumping from the pages as Marley attempts to master the obedience he strives – not always successfully – to offer his owners, makes it unsurprising that the story leant itself to a warm and funny film further down the line.

I first read Marley & Me several years ago, and at the time so many aspects of it reminded me of my own childhood growing up in a family with dogs. Re-reading again on holiday last summer – actually as it happened with my own Marley in my arms as I did – so much of John and Jenny’s beginnings together had been mirrored in our own little family’s, and I could relate to the truth and warmth of the story from our own perspective as well. Now that we have our daughter too, I look forward so much to being able to raise her in a home with animals and introduce her to the wonderful companions they can be.

Reading Marley & Me on holiday with my Marley and the other littles last summer 💙

The Grogans’ tale of life with Marley is a rollercoaster, and is full of mistakes and curveballs, but is held together by the love a life with pets offers so unconditionally.

Marley & Me documents the day-to-day reality of marriage, children and all the winding paths life takes us on. The family’s journey is enriched so much by Marley’s dominating presence in their midst, and as John Grogan writes, he teaches them as much as they teach him and more:

“A person can learn a lot from a dog.. Living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things – a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall. As he grew old and achy he taught me optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all, unwavering loyalty.”

This is a warm and engaging story of family life and the life-long imprint a much-loved pet makes on it. ♥️

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Little Grace and the rest ~ In praise of rescue pets

This morning’s “Facebook memory” transported me back to a day I remember so very well, and I felt the same wave of excitement and happiness I did at the time – six years ago today we adopted our very first rescue pet, our beautiful little hamster Grace.

I’d grown up with rescue dogs and cats in my childhood and knew how rewarding the journey with a pet given a second chance at life could be; but we’d never adopted or rehomed in our adulthood pets journey – and in fact I didn’t really know there was the opportunity for it in the small animal sphere.

I heard about Grace through a fellow rat owner, who had seen her advertised for free online and been worried about her fate so decided to take her on and find a good home for her. When she went to collect her, she found her being kept in a small plastic tub with air holes cut in, no way of seeing out, and an old injury had left her with only one ear. She was also extremely small for a Syrian hamster, but, no doubt due to what we would come to know was her irrepressible character, she didn’t let anything that might have happened in the first few months of her life dampen her spirits; and within hours of her “rescuer” getting her home she was racing around a new temporary cage, and had commandeered a 12″ rat wheel put in with other odds and ends “just in case” to give her some enrichment. She was so tiny on it but made it go effortlessly and absolutely loved it – in fact when she came to live with us we got her one the same size and she loved it all her days.

We brought Grace home on Valentines Day 2012, and she was the most wonderful addition to our little family and brought so much joy in her time with us.

She also began for us a habit of seeking to rescue our pets whenever we could – I had already decided to avoid pet shops for any new additions after learning about the rodent farming practices that can often be used by them; and as this left us with independent breeders or rehoming as our main options, we were always so happy if we found the chance to give a pet a second chance at life come up.

Just as I know it is with larger pets – and in many cases more so as time with the little ones is so much shorter and more precious – it’s so very rewarding to see rats and hamsters find their feet in a second home, and I have always found it such a wonderful thing to be able to do. There are often challenges of course – Lizzie, our first rescue rat, who came from the SSPCA in 2012, and Pipkin, our very troubled but so wonderfully special boy, adopted in 2014, had significant behavioural issues, but seeing them gradually overcome their fear of the world around them was the best feeling in the world.

Lizzie and Pipkin ❤

Healthwise too, the little ones’ starts in life often compromised them – Chae, Winnie and Pipkin were part of a large-scale rescue that made the news in our area, where 300 rats were found being kept in one house in terrible conditions – they were actually kittens born in the SSPCA centre to one of the many pregnant does rescued, so never lived in the house, but the in-breeding that had happened over so long left them all with very poor health and they all suffered from respiratory issues most of their lives. Still though, in spite of the odd jaunt to the vets and medication hidden in fruit juice every evening, they got so much out of their lives, and gave us so much too in return; really appreciating everything we did for them.

Winston Rat loving old age despite his ailments ❤

Of all the lovely animals we’ve owned, the rescues have often been those we’ve grown closest to, and the length of time they’ve had to spend with us has had no correlation to how much they’ve meant to us – Darcy the bustling hamster only lived with us the last six months of his life but I loved him so very much and he was a wonderful character.

Darcy

There are so many wonderful aspects to a life with rescue pets, big or small, and I’d recommend it to anyone considering taking on a new addition.

Grace, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winnie, Pipkin, Darcy, Rosie, Jasper and Jet all in their second home with us. ❤

Enjoying looking back on little Grace’s arrival and all the others’ time with us too.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. X

Snow games for the rats… ❄️🐭

Decided to bring a little of the outside in for the boys today as we woke once again this morning to fluffy white snow covering the garden. Always on the lookout for ways to make life more interesting for them at the moment, as they don’t get as much free range time just now as usual; and always glad of games I can play with them.

My whiskery pair 💙

Snow has seemed to take all our rats’ attention in the past, especially when digging through it for hidden treats, and Jasper and Jet, meeting it for the first time today, turned out to be no different (when I eventually persuaded them to leave their cosy hammock!).

Lovely to see them enjoying their fun and to spend some time with them. The sun is out now, and the peaceful blanket that fell overnight melting away under February’s brightness – but plenty digging and playing to be done for J&J!

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Happy New Year ✨2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣✨

2017 has drawn to its close and we woke yesterday morning to the dawn of 2018, excited to greet a brand new year. I always love the fresh-start feel to New Year’s morning and this year was as new and different as any we’ve ever had, waking with our 2-week-old baby to an era we move into all together, ready for so many adventures we can’t even begin to imagine yet.

We got ourselves up and ready – more of a mission now than a couple of weeks previously! – and, all wrapped up, headed along to the farm in the morning, where the pony was standing happily in his stable, all the horses en masse having a little longer a lie than normal as everyone sleepily arrived mid-morning to the yard with new-year greetings and chatter. I got him breakfasted and sorted, and we took our first 2018 amble over to the gate with the rest in the tumultuous rain-wrestling-with-sunshine morning light.

Once he was out and sorted I rejoined my husband and the wee one, who were taking an extra five minutes cosy in the car, and we got transitioned to the pram and headed out for a lovely walk along the coastal path we’re so lucky to have right at the farm.

It was a beautiful morning and we had a lovely ramble before we bundled ourselves home for a bit of quiet as the daylight faded and the January super moon rose outside.

Just wanted to wish you all, wherever you are and however you saw it in, the happiest new year, and all the very very best for 2018. Xxx

2017 Reflections ~ Holed up in the snow

We are in the midst of the usual in-between period between Christmas and new year – that beautifully still time where the days stretch ahead and blur into one another (“Romjul” as I was charmed to learn is its romantic Scandinavian name); a few days of quiet contemplation and true unwinding. Every year I look forward to this, and every year it arrives with a familiarity that makes it so easy to sink into – before long the continual passing round of Quality Streets and the sticking on of an afternoon film without a second thought becoming second nature once more.

This year, we are enjoying that period as much as always and more so; but its familiarity has been shaken up by the new dimension added to all our days and every aspect of our little world since our daughter arrived to join us. ♥️

Born exactly a week before Christmas, our little girl has transformed our life unrecognisably, in the best possible way. The last couple of weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, and we have lived and learned so much as a little family already. She is settling so well, taking everything in her stride – and although it’s been a busy period full of new routines and challenges, visits from family and friends and Christmas coming along too; we’ve had a little bit of time now to start to enjoy settling into our new roles and getting to know each other.

Today, we are all cosied up inside as the snow falls steadily outside the window, and are taking the day at an easy pace from under our blankets here.

 

I always find myself reflecting so much on the year that’s been as we hibernate in these last few days of it; and this year has been one full of change and new horizons as we’ve transitioned in so many ways – moving home, all the journeying on we’ve done in different ways in our living and working, and having been blessed with expanding our family.

The pets (usually the main focus of any blog post but currently being sidelined in every way, poor souls!) are doing well too – or Jasper and Jet will be as soon as they get used to the sound of the wee one’s cry! Getting there slowly already though I think…

 

The pony headed off out to play in the snow this morning quite happily, on my brief foray out into the world of the farm and the wintry outdoors before getting home to the others once more.

Our world here at the moment is all new and all so exciting; but is strung together too by the constancy of the season – the twinkle of the lights, chill in the air and warmth of home – as we adapt to all our changes and find our feet together.

Hope you are all finding time to enjoy this cosy in-between time, and have a really lovely week from all of us. X

♥️