Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Favorite Reads: Merle's Door

My Favorite Reads is hosted by At Home With Books.

Each week I am featuring one of my favorite reads from the past. June is Pet Adoption Month. Please don't get a pet from a breeder, but instead from a rescue group or local shelter. My sisters each got their pets from breeders. One was very sweet but stupid (Miniature Schnauzer), one was smart but mean (Persian Cat). Mine was from the shelter (calico longhair) and she was the best cat ever (kind of ruined me actually for future pet ownership.) Inbreeding is not good. Look at the British royal family if you really need proof.

Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote

Summary (from the publisher):
While on a camping trip, Ted Kerasote met a dog—a Labrador mix—who was living on his own in the wild. They became attached to each other, and Kerasote decided to name the dog Merle and bring him home. There, he realized that Merle’s native intelligence would be diminished by living exclusively in the human world. He put a dog door in his house so Merle could live both outside and in.

A deeply touching portrait of a remarkable dog and his relationship with the author, Merle’s Door explores the issues that all animals and their human companions face as their lives intertwine, bringing to bear the latest research into animal consciousness and behavior as well as insights into the origins and evolution of the human-dog partnership. Merle showed Kerasote how dogs might live if they were allowed to make more of their own decisions, and Kerasote suggests how these lessons can be applied universally.

Why I chose this book:
Ted Kerasote is a fantastic writer. Literary, erudite, yet down-to-earth. In fact, I have yet to read a writer for Outside magazine who isn't stellar.

The bond between Mr. Kerasote and Merle was quite extraordinary. The research he did into the relationship between humans and dogs was impressive, and boiled down to its essentials. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although like any memoir of life with a dog, one should be prepared for a sad ending. I am not a big dog person, but this book was fantastic.


Alyce said...

I'd be interested to read about what the dog did and how far it roamed having a dog door in the house. Living in a town, it seems like a foreign idea (at least without having the door go out to a gated yard). Then I thought about it and realized that my grandparents (who I lived just a couple of house from when I was growing up) had a dog door on their house, and no gated fence. The difference was that they lived in the country and there was a lot of open space for the dog to roam without getting in trouble.

In any case, it sounds like it would be a very interesting book, especially the discussion of animal consciousness and behavior.

Jeane said...

I really liked the book. But it was kind of hard for me to decide- was he being negligent in letting his dog have total freedom to roam? or admirably trusting in his relationship with the dog, to live that way. I think the second, though I doubt I could ever let a dog I owned do this.

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