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Column: Dog seems to enjoy new home in Montana

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| October 22, 2009 12:00 AM

Looking up toward a sizeable tree behind the house, Marley Boy’s ears stand at attention. A squirrel is chattering away above as if he’s cursing the dog for glancing his way. You might even say the squirrel is taunting him … as if it knows that the canine cannot get to him.

Such is the life of a black lab mix called “the Marley Boy.” Now 6 years old, the dog has been a part of my family since he was found alongside a lonely road 30 miles southeast of the Grand Canyon. At the time, my future wife and I were driving toward the 40 acres of property that we own when a black puppy appeared alongside a dirt road.

The pup was just sitting there with his food dish and a bag of dog food. Someone obviously abandoned him with the idea that a motorist would come along and pick him up. That’s not exactly the ideal way to get rid of an unwanted animal. For one thing, he was on a road not heavily traveled and for another, the coyotes would’ve probably killed him that night.

We pulled over and took a look at him. He was excited to have the attention and we couldn’t help but load him up in the car to at least give him a ride into town. Grand Canyon Village has a no-kill shelter and I thought about taking him in.

While growing up, I had a dog that was on many occasions my best friend. Figuring that a dog could do the same for my young son, I decided to keep him. We named him Marley – and yes, just like the movie, it was in honor of musician Bob Marley. I soon added “Boy” to his name; it just seemed to fit his ornery personality.

The move to Montana, I believe, has been good for our curious dog. Down in Arizona, he didn’t have much of a chance to view wildlife and a big event was a trip to the dog park. Now, he gets to see all kinds of animals from a backyard that actually has grass instead of only dirt.

One of his favorite activities is going on a hike. I’ve taken him on a couple of long ones and he amazingly never seems to get tired. We like to make fun that Marley is simply thinking, “up the trail … up the trail … up the trail” when he’s out in the backcountry. He’s just so happy to be included on an outdoor excursion and can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner – even five miles in.

Of course, when we’re headed in the opposite direction, Marley’s thinking changes to “down the trail … down the trail … down the trail.”

Marley Boy is not a perfect dog. I never really trained him so he gets himself into trouble every once in a while. He likes to eat so you can’t leave a loaf of bread sitting around on the kitchen counter. One of our favorite games to play is “Will Marley eat it?” On most occasions, the answer is yes.

Marley Boy didn’t fare very well over his first winter in Montana. Oh sure, he survived just fine doing his business outside and dashing back into the warmth of the house. But on one occasion, he decided it would be a good idea to lick a metal fence post. I’m not sure why he did it.

And yes, his tongue got stuck. I spotted this immediately and reacted to remove his tongue from the post. He seemed fine but I carried warm water outside over the next several days in case he was dumb enough to do it again. He didn’t.

Coincidentally, the movie “Marley and Me” was released over this past holiday season and we just had to go and check it out. My son and I laughed at the many similarities between the movie Marley and our own pup. As in the film, our Marley will someday grow old and we’ll lose a good friend.

Although he’s starting to get a little grizzled under the chin, we’re hoping we have many good years ahead with the Marley Boy.

(Brad Fuqua is managing editor of the Western News. He can be reached at ).