Photo Credit: John Zav

Marley was a Christmas gift in 2018, but 10 months later, he was dumped at a shelter and branded a bad dog all because the family didn’t understand his needs.


Global (23 November 2020) – December 2018, Marley was gifted to an excited young child. He was wrapped in a bow and presented to the child, tail wagging and filled pure excitement about meeting his new family.

Marley was bought from a breeder; his fur hypoallergenic so that nobody in the home would suffer from allergies. He arrived at his new home, fully trained and ready to bring joy to all. But Marley’s story continues like most tragic tales about puppy gifts.

The child he was gifted to was too young to understand that a puppy is not a plaything. Marley was treated like a ragdoll, pulled and dragged around, never given a moment to rest or retreat into a quiet space.

As Marley grew up over the next few weeks, he was tortured by a child who was never taught to be gentle. On the other hand, the adult owners took no responsibility for his special needs as a hypoallergenic dog and left his fur to grow and become matted.

When Marley got big enough to protect himself from the child, he did so in the form of biting. Quickly the family blamed Marley for his bad behaviour and locked him away. Over time, Marley became so traumatised by his life with this family as a Christmas gift that he became branded a bad dog and sent to the animal shelter.

John Zav was assigned to take on his care in 2019, just a few months before Christmas. He was devastated by the emotional state that Marley was dropped off in and decided to pen a very powerful message to all about gifting puppies for Christmas! Please take a read of his viral open letter below and remember to adopt, don’t shop.

“This is my foster dog Marley. He’s cute as hell. His cuteness has been both his curse and his blessing in life. Marley bites. Bad. Marley was a cute puppy. He was treated like a stuffed toy by a young child who wasn’t supervised with him. When Marley got big enough, he started to defend himself from this unintended abuse, the only way a dog knows how. With his teeth.

At ten months old Marley was surrendered, covered in mats because the family who bought him didn’t understand the needs of a hypoallergenic dog. By this time, the damage was done. Imagine not washing your hair for months the whole time someone was dragging you around like you were a teddy bear.

So what do you do with a dog that’s snappy and won’t let you get close to it? You lock it in a cage. You let your frustrations get to you, and you shove him into the cage because he’s biting you while you’re trying to get him in there. So now he obviously has issues with the cage.

Marley was sent to a training facility that deals with aggressive dogs. I have worked with some very aggressive dogs. Marley is not an aggressive dog. Marley has no trust in people because all they have ever done is wrong him. Marley is terrified to be touched the wrong way because all his life, he has been shown that touch only leads to pain and hurt.

They said he had no respect and that he was unfixable and unadoptable. When I first heard his story, I laughed, I thought he was a poodle with an attitude. Now that I have known him a while, I know better. I can see the pain and the suffering this dog has been through. The animals don’t have a voice, but if you know what you’re looking at, they will tell you their story. Marley now has a voice, mine, and I am telling his story.

Marley is going to be with me quite a while so he can learn to trust people again, working at his own pace towards his recovery. Marley is well trained. He can sit, stay, come, lay down, rollover, Fetch (exceptionally good at Fetch), and high five. He is house trained. He follows the rules of the house. He walks well on a leash. Marley does not need training. Marley needs to recover.

I’m writing this with Marley at my feet. A dog that was a gift to a small child. A dog that was supposed to be therapeutic. A dog that was made into a monster. So this holiday season, please remember; a dog is NOT a gift.

A dog is NOT the responsibility of children. A dog (any dog) is NOT to be left unattended with children. A puppy/new dog is NOT a therapy dog. A therapy dog is a therapy dog. It takes years of expensive training to turn a dog into a therapy dog. You don’t buy them from some donkey selling designer puppies out of their backyard. A dog is NOT an impulse. If you want a non-shedding dog be prepared to take care of that hair. If you want a German Shepard be prepared for all the training required. If you want a Dalmatian be prepared to deal with a stubborn pain in the ass.

At the beginning of this, I said his cuteness was his curse and blessing in life. The curse is obvious after reading this. The blessing? If Marley looked like a Pitbull, he would have been put down a long time ago.”

John’s story is trending again because it is about the time of year again when people would start making plans to pick up puppies for Christmas. A full year has gone by since Marley was rescued and he is doing so well! Take a look at some of the snaps John has been sharing.

In the end, John adopted Marley, and we cannot get enough of his cuteness!


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Sources: Facebook
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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