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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)
The remarkable true story of a six-year friendship between a wild, oddly gentle black wolf and the people and dogs of Juneau, Alaska.
The heartwarming and amazing story of Chaser, a Border Collie who has learned the names of over 1,000 objects, and her octogenarian trainer, exploring the true potential of animal intelligence and the ways in which any dog lover could achieve similar results.
A New York Times Bestseller
The amazing story of a very smart Border collie who is redefining animal intelligence.
Chaser has a way with words. She knows over a thousand of themandmdash;more than any other animal of any species except humans. In addition to common nouns like house, ball, and tree, she has memorized the names of more than one thousand toys and can retrieve any of them on command. Based on that learning, she and her owner and trainer, retired psychologist John Pilley, have moved on to further impressive feats, demonstrating her ability to understand sentences with multiple elements of grammar and to learn new behaviors by imitation.
Johnandrsquo;s ingenuity and tenacity as a researcher are as impressive as Chaserandrsquo;s accomplishments. His groundbreaking approach has opened the door to a new understanding of animal intelligence, one that requires us to reconsider what actually goes on in a dogandrsquo;s mind. Chaserandrsquo;s achievements reveal her use of deductive reasoning and complex problem-solving skills to address novel challenges.
Yet astonishingly, Chaser isnandrsquo;t unique. Johnandrsquo;s training methods can be adopted by any dog lover. Through the poignant story of how he trained Chaser, raised her as a member of the Pilley family, and proved her abilities to the scientific community, he reveals the positive impact of incorporating learning into play and more effectively channeling a dogandrsquo;s natural drives.
Johnandrsquo;s work with Chaser offers a fresh perspective on whatandrsquo;s possible in the relationship between a dog and a human. His story points us toward a new way of relating to our canine companions that takes into account our evolving understanding of the way animals and humans learn.
The unlikely true story of a six-year friendship between a wild, oddly gentle black wolf and the people and dogs of Juneau, Alaska
No stranger to wildlife, Nick Jans had lived in Alaska for nearly thirty years. But when one evening at twilight a lone black wolf ambled into view not far from his doorstep, Nick would finally come to know this mystical speciesand#8212;up close as never before.
A Wolf Called Romeo is the remarkable story of a wolf who returned again and again to interact with the people and dogs of Juneau, living on the edges of their community, engaging in an improbable, awe-inspiring interspecies dance and bringing the wild into sharp focus. At first the people of Juneau were guarded, torn between shoot first, ask questions later instincts and curiosity. But as Romeo began to tag along with cross-country skiers on their daily jaunts, play fetch with local dogs, or simply lie near Nick and nap under the sun, they came to accept Romeo, and he them. For Nick it was about trying to understand Romeo, then it was about winning his trust, and ultimately it was about watching over him, for as long as he or anyone could.
Written with a deft hand and a searching heart, A Wolf Called Romeo is an unforgettable tale of a creature who defied nature and thus gave humans a chance to understand it a little more.
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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