I’ll never forget the day I talked with Grace Bowles, Marley’s foster mom at Almost Home, about whether this sweet looking, little pup I saw on Petfinder would make a good, outgoing, friendly shop dog. We were looking for a puppy who wouldn’t mind being petted all day, who would like kids, and who wouldn’t try to scoot out of the shop when the front door was open. “He’s a little boy…” Grace said, her voice trailing off when I asked her about Marley’s personality. And about whether he could get along with two older collies in the house? “He’s definitely a little boy…” Hmmm…the voice was still trailing off. He sounds like a handful, I thought. My husband and I talked it over. Would he be trainable? Would he upset the routine of our older collies too much? Would he be good in the shop? We worried. But he had the face of an angel…and he looked so sweet in his puppy picture. With Grace’s words ringing in our ears, we decided to adopt him and we brought our little hellion home.
Marley hit Charleston with a bang. He stayed in our fenced-in yard for all of two weeks before tunneling out and escaping. As soon as we plugged up one tunnel, he’d dig another one. We had a runner on our hands – this pup wanted to see the world. We took turns chasing him. I tackled him in a stranger’s driveway (yes, he’s my dog, honest!). I figured he’d outgrow it – literally! After all, eventually he would get too big to wiggle under the fence. Ha! Growing up didn’t slow him down for long. Once he got too big to go under the fence, he discovered the joys of jumping over. We kept a good eye on him. He jumped. I jumped after him. I tramped through more neighbors’ backyards and flower beds that spring chasing Marley than I care to remember. He was infamous in the neighborhood. Everyone knew him. Kids recognized him (yup, he’s over at the blue house). Strangers were bringing him back home. He made friends with a Lab on the next block who he liked to visit. He created a route. But one good thing did happen from those few months of chaos – we met all the neighbors.
We told ourselves he would grow out of it. He was just a bored puppy. So, we started bringing him to the shop. On his first day as greeter, he jumped in the front display window and barked at the carriage horses pulling tourists down the street. He and I had a little talk. I told him those horses were working a lot harder than he was and it wasn’t nice to bark at them. He ignored me. It only took a couple of time-outs in the office before he caught on.
Finally, finally, finally, the collie crazies visited less frequently and Marley mellowed. Now, five years later, he’s the perfect shop dog. He greets customers (like Gordon in the picture) and kisses babies (paying particular attention to wayward Cheerios in strollers). He entertains the older kids while their parents browse. The highlight of his day is seeing the UPS man and chewing on rawhide bones. And once in a while you can catch him snoozing on the job.
Marley has become a tourist attraction. More people know his name than they do ours (is Marley here today?). He’s become a gentle, friendly, outgoing collie who meets and greets everyone who comes to The Silver Puffin in downtown Charleston, SC. He’s a real sweetheart. And he earns his biscuits.
Megan & Erastus
The Silver Puffin