For a while, I thought this nonfiction book was titled incorrectly. “Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man” by Brian McGrory should have been titled Harry: How a Dog Made Me a Better Man. Readers are introduced to Buddy in the first chapter but then the story goes back in time and features Harry for six more.
In the first chapter, McGrory and fiancée, Pam, are sleeping in a new home in suburbia. A menagerie of animals resides with the couple and Pam’s two daughters from a previous marriage. Pam is a veterinarian. He says it all in the book’s dedication:
“To Pam, Abigail, and Caroline (as well as Baker, Walter, Charlie, Tigger, Lily, Dolly, Mokey, Lala, Smurf, Chaz, and the nameless frog – what a house)”
McGrory and Pam are sleeping peacefully when all of the sudden, Cock-a-doodle-doo! Cock-a-doodle-doo! In the darkness, McGrory reaches for the extremely loud alarm clock. He pokes and presses an object until he figures out where the sound originates.
Cock-a-doodle-doo! The sound is getting closer and McGrory’s fiancé shoots out of bed with an obscenity. In the darkness she steadies herself and heads for the door. McGrory follows the sounds of her footsteps downstairs until he hears the gay barks coming from a relieved chicken basking in her arms.
The next chapter begins, “The story of this rooster actually begins with a dog.” To celebrate another successful year of marriage (pre Pam), McGrory suggests a starter family per custom. He goes online and orders a golden retriever to surprise his wife on Christmas Eve.
On a cold Tuesday, McGrory arrives at Logan Field at 5:15 p.m. with great excitement. The baggage handlers point him nonchalantly to a small dog crate in the corner of the hangar. As he approaches, he does not hear a sound. Even closer and the crate looks to be empty. He has to get right to the door to see the little 11 week old puppy shaking against the back.
He slowly opens the door, “And there he was, aloft in front of me, his four legs dangling in midair, his luxuriant blond fur tousled in a way that would later become his trademark, his jowls loose, his jet-black nose set off against deep brown eyes that carried a mix of fear and – I swear I saw this – relief.
Folks, get ready for “Marley and Me” in the form of a rooster and a little dog.