A New Year, A New Puppy

It was a year ago this week that our beloved Labrador retriever, Gracie — the sweet girl we brought home in 2004 after the death of Marley — died unexpectedly due to a rare auto-immune reaction to Lymes disease. She was just 6, and should have had many years ahead of her. We were heartbroken, of course, as all pet owners understand too well. Part of the sadness was seeing the effect the loss of Gracie had on our other Lab, Woodson.

Woodson, as regular readers of this blog know, was one of the puppy stars of the Marley & Me movie. At the end of filming, the producer and director presented him to my family as a present. We were instantly smitten, and he seemed to be, too. Gracie was his running partner, and together they would lope from one end of the property to the other, nearly nonstop. They played constantly, nipping at each others necks, tumbling, wrestling. After her death, he moped around alone for weeks. Some nights I would catch him going from room to room on all three floors of our house, and I knew he was looking for her. Eventually, he seemed to move past it, but his happy-go-lucky joy seemed to be extinguished. Without his playmate, he mostly just sniffed quietly around the yard alone. The days of running and nipping and tumbling were behind him.

Enter, the latest addition to our canine family: Wallace. If he looks a lot like a miniature version of Woodson, it might be because they are cousins. We got Wallace from the same breeder who provided Woodson to the movie studio. Diane and Joe Citro are a wonderful couple from eastern Ohio who take a lot of pride in their calm, gentle line of English-style Labradors. Woodson’s father is Wallace’s grandfather. We now have two generations of this beautiful line. (Thanks, Diane and Joe!) And Woodson again has a playmate. The puppy keeps him running and is constantly tiring him out. It’s hilarious to watch.

Wallace is 12 weeks old, and we have had him for the last four. We can already tell he’s going to be a calm dog with a great disposition. He’s making great strides on the housebreaking front, and somehow he taught himself to sit on command without us showing him. I think big cousin Woodson, who automatically sits and puts up a front paw whenever food is in sight, showed him the ropes. Life with a puppy is a little like life with an infant, and the first week or two Jenny and I were walking around the house like two zombies. The puppy was getting us up three to four times a night to go out. And sometimes — most often at about 3 a.m. — he simply wanted to lie in the grass and chew a stick. Now he is consistently sleeping through the night, which is welcome.

At any rate, a puppy photo is worth about 6 million words. So here are a few more shots of the little man.

Wallace (left) with his twin brother at about four weeks before we brought him home.

Woodson and Wallace getting acquainted on the puppy’s first night home.

I realize this probably constitutes puppy porn, but we could not resist dressing him up for the holidays.

11 Responses to “A New Year, A New Puppy”

  1. Hi Mr. Grogan,
    I’m to writing from Brazil, and have two dogs now, a destroyer REX (Rottweiler) and Lady Charlotte (Dashund) …
    Today I was searching the internet about the movie and the book Marley & Me …
    for over a year and a half our Max (Rottweiler) had to be euthanized because she was very ill for some time … good shortly after won a Yorkshire and we named him Marley (after watching the film and a tribute to our Max), it was impossible, uncontrollable but above all he was perfect. he went into my closet to hide the bones he stole from the kitchen, upset everybody, it could only rest when she went to sleep and look there because I wanted to sleep in our bed and then we wanted us to be stroked his head until he sleeps … and so it was during this time.
    only yesterday we were playing me, he and my cousin a baby girl of 5 months and then my brother opened the gate to enter the house and he fled … but did not arrive at the corner of the house (which is very close) and a car hit him …

    My good Marley died yesterday in the evening in my arms

    I can not describe the sadness I’m feeling right now
    miss him all the time ….
    I think I wrote to you just to try to console me, or do not know why
    finally think it’s just

    good luck to you and your family, your puppies are cute

    I will stay here


  2. Eve Saizan says:

    Ah, welcome Wallace, you are one cutie patootie!!! We have a 12 yr. old sheltie (Kodiak)! LOVE the way you write John and have enjoyed reading your books and this blog — HAPPY NEW YEAR GROGAN’S!!

  3. Susan Phillips says:

    Dear Mr. Grogan,

    Being a dog owner, I have laughed and cried along with you every time I read Marley & Me. Thank you for sharing your story with the world. I thought you might be interested in another Marley story unfolding here in San Antonio. A yellow lab mix named Marley recently protected a little girl when she was attacked by two other dogs. Although Marley shielded the little girl from the other dogs, he was taken away from his family by Animal Control Services (ACS), who have now designated him as a “dangerous dog”, despite testimony from the little girl and neighbors that Marley was protecting her. Marley now has to live under extremely tight restrictions, and his owners must hold a $100K liability insurance policy on him. The attorney representing Marley’s family is appealing the decision. ACS in San Antonio has a long history of injustice. Here is a link to the story. Please help Marley by showing support on the Justice for Marley Facebook page. Thank you so much! http://www.ksat.com/news/Labrador-mix-declared-dangerous-by-judge/-/478452/8273310/-/50k9ykz/-/index.html

  4. Lily says:

    Hey John,

    I’ve just finished your book ‘Marley and Me’ (took me a while to find some time to read it..a long time). I absolutely loved it, I cried page after page after page reading the last chapter on Marley’s life. He’s such a dear.

    I have a Jack Russell terrier at home, and if you’ve ever come across one, you’ll know that they are near psychotic – the funny bits in your book of Marley destroying everything in his path and knocking everything over really reminds me of my little dog Tim Tam. Except he’s tiny compared to Marley. My pup used to chase rats, cockroaches, birds, frogs..I even have a box full of bangles given to me by my grandmother that were his chew toys during his teething stage. He moved on to my stuffed toy collection after. He frequently furniture surfs across our living room and barks at Rottweilers triple his size thinking he’s the boss. I’m the same as you, I forgive my mutt despite his pain-in-the-ass antics sometimes.

    Thank you so much for your book, I read most of it whilst Tim Tam hid under my bed from the neighbours’ Chinese New Year fireworks over here in Asia. Have a great new year :)

  5. Fred says:

    Congratulations on the new puppy!
    When my dalmatian “Daisy” died it was a heart breaking experience for my family and I. A friend suggested to watch the Marley & Me movie. The movie was great, and helped with the recovery process. I decided to get another dog, and after watching the movie, I just had to get a yellow lab.
    I visited the local shelter and there he was, a one year old yellow lab named Charlie. We took him home, and at first I thought I let my emotions control my decision, but Charlie loved us. He seemed to be genuinely grateful that we adopted and gave him a new home.
    He has grown with us and has become an awesome addition to our family. Charlie is a very smart, kind and loving dog. He is now three years old and everybody tells us he is a beautiful and gentle giant.
    But anyway thank you for the website and the “Marley and Me”, and “Coming Home” books, both are great.

  6. Such Labrador cuteness!! I can smell the lovely puppy breath from here. Wallace is beautiful, and Woodson looks very content. I’m glad you guys got another puppy. I think it’s always hard on the the remaining dog when their friend and companion dies, and they definitely mourn and miss them. And while it’s always hard to lose a pet, I think it’s so much harder when you lose them young. We lost our last Yellow Lab, Bronwyn, to an auto-immune disease too, at only 19 months old. It was awful, and our son, who adored her, was heartbroken. It helps to get another and spread the love some more – I call it fuzz therapy. Enjoy that little round ball of fat Labbie yumminess – we all know he’ll be a big old galoot in no time. Hope he’s not chewing on Woodson TOO much!

    :-) Elizabeth

  7. Leslie says:

    He is a adorable. My heart broke hearing about gracie but I am sure she is running through many a screen with marley right now. enjoy the new puppy!!!

  8. Sam says:

    I adore those puppy photos. Too cute not to share. I’m a couple of chapters away from the end of “Marley and Me,” I have already been reduced to tears. To know (about) Marley is to love him! What a legacy he has left. Woodson and Wallace look utterly adorable. We’ve decided not to have kids and to get a dog instead. Looking at those pics of your perfect pooches, I have a bad case of dog envy! Thank you for sharing your story. Love it!

  9. Felicity O'Neil says:

    Hello John

    I have … a few minutes ago … finished reading Marley and Me. After being completely absorbed by your exquisitely narrated story … I feel I can call you ‘John’. :)

    Like Alessandra I wanted to find out how you, Jenny, kids and puppy were getting along … and rushed to the website listed at the end of your book. I was saddened to read that Gracie died so young!

    My sister and her partner recently brought home two Kelpie puppies. Not sure if you’re familiar with this Australian breed but … look out for the movie ‘Red Dog’, you’ll enjoy it – I think it’s OK for the kids too, who are probably now young teenagers? ‘Red Dog’ is a great movie about a red kelpie that became famous for his courage and his loyalty. Kelpies are working dogs, originally bred for sheep (I think) – they are incredibly energetic, highly intelligent, loveable, loyal dogs.

    Anyway, thank you for your book … laugh, cry … I absolutely loved it.

    All the best to you and your family … human and canine! :)



  10. Greg Gregor says:

    Congratulations on the new pup! After re-reading M&M recently I believe you have a real heart for dogs and especially (obviously!) Labs. Please add my thanks to the countless others you have received for writing about and memorializing Marley. I like many others could share stories about a similar nut-case lab (Molly Magoo) that we lost about 5 years ago – but we miss her dearly. And we now have our “Gracie” (Annabelle Pearl – just a treasure!)so my sincere condolences on losing her. Our dogs have probably taught us more about “life and love” as you put it than a person ever could. Make every day count. Never hold your “licker”! Wag early and often. Sleep like you mean it!

    Thank you again John,


    Greg Gregor
    Freemansburg (Lehigh Valley), PA

    PS – would love to share photos and (pardon the pun) tales!

  11. tina says:

    Congratulations on your new addition (although I’m getting the news late). i miss your regular blog updates.

    Are you writing a new book? Please say yes! :)

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