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Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dogby Ted Kerasote
Because I love dogs, Merle's Door was my favorite book this year. Merle lives with his owner, Ted, in the Grand Tetons. (He "found" Ted on one of Ted's many hunting explorations.) This book is a beautiful record of the relationship of a true wilderness man with an amazing dog.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Humorous, jubilant and touching by turns, this story of the relationship between man and dog is informed by the author's grasp of animal research and his attachment to Merle, a stray dog he adopted. A Labrador mix, Merle first appeared while the author was on a camping trip. Kerasote (Out There: In the Wild in a Wired Age), an award-winning nature writer, decided to take his canine friend home to rural Wyoming. This chronicle of their 13 years together is interspersed with studies by animal behaviorists that strengthened Kerasote's desire to see Merle as a responsible individual rather than a submissive pet. Merle set his own eating schedule (though not without early mishap), refused to hunt birds (although not elks) and, according to the author, possessed a range of emotions and sentiments similar to those of humans. Kerasote tends to anthropomorphize Merle's every look and movement, but this narrative is entertaining and Kerasote's strong love for Merle and enthusiasm for life in the wild will win over many readers. Kerasote's joyous relationship with Merle is balanced by a bittersweet account of a close relationship the author had with Alison, a neighbor and fellow dog owner. Kerasote's last weeks with the dying Merle are beautifully rendered. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A thoughtful look at animal intelligence and the human-dog connection." Kirkus Reviews
"It is no exaggeration to say that Merle's Door could be the best book ever written about dogs." Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs
"Kerasote has created a whole new work of art. Merle's Door is the best, the most utterly compelling translation of dog to human I have ever seen. A terrific book, a superb book, I can't think of a single other book that conveys the love of a human for a dog so well." Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of Dogs Never Lie About Love
"Merle's Door is a window into the mind of a dog. You will experience his loyalty, fears, and joys and his true inner self. Everybody who loves dogs must read this book." Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
"Merle's Door is a love story for grown-ups—an intense reciprocal relationship between a dog and his man, and how we and our dogs genuinely share feelings and emotions." Dr. Bruce Fogle, DVM, author of The Dog's Mind
"Merle's Door is a joyous, sad, gripping, and deeply moving testament to the fulfilling relationship that can grow between human and dog." Juliet Clutton-Brock, author of A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals
"To be entertained and educated at the same time is rare in dog books, which makes this one definitely worth reading." Stanley Coren, author of How Dogs Think and The Intelligence of Dogs
Book News Annotation:
Kerasote's articles have been published in Audubon and National Geographic Traveler. In this memoir he introduces the reader to Merle, the golden retriever he met and adopted during a camping trip in Utah. He integrates the story of the relationship that followed with research on animal consciousness and behavior, preferring the notion of adapting one's behavior to one's dog over traditional obedience training. Writing as Merle's "translator," he demonstrates how becoming a partner to his dog and allowing him plenty of freedom taught them both valuable lessons on living. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This national bestseller explores the relationship between humans and dogs. How would dogs live if they were free? Would they stay with their human friends?
Merle and Ted found each other in the Utah desert— Merle was living wild and Ted was looking for a pup to keep him company. As their bond grew, Ted taught Merle how to live around wildlife, and Merle taught Ted about the benefits of letting a dog make his own decisions.
Using the latest in wolf research and exploring issues of animal consciousness and leadership and the origins of the human-dog relationship, Ted Kerasote takes us on the journey he and Merle shared. As much a love story as a story of independence and partnership, Merles Door is tender, funny, and ultimately illuminating.
About the Author
Ted Kerasote's writing has appeared in more than fifty periodicals, including Audubon, National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Field & Stream, Salon, and the New York Times. His most recent book, Out There: In the Wild in a Wired Age, won the National Outdoor Book Award. He lives in Wyoming.
Table of Contents
chapter 1: From the Wild 1
chapter 2: The First Dog 26
chapter 3: The Synaptic Kiss 49
chapter 4: In the Genes 67
chapter 5: Building the Door 97
chapter 6: Growing Into Himself 113
chapter 7: Top Dog 145
chapter 8: The Gray Cat 169
chapter 9: Estrogen Clouds 181
chapter 10: At Home in the Arms of the Country 194
chapter 11: The Problem of Me 210
chapter 12: The Mayor of Kelly 234
chapter 13: The Alpha Pair 249
chapter 14: White Muzzle 270
chapter 15: What Do Dogs Want? 284
chapter 16: A Looser Leash 304
chapter 17:t-family: 'Times New Roman'" The First Passing 313
chapter 18: Through the Door 327
with many thanks 363
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