January 14, 2012

Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote

This book couldn't decide what it wanted to be; heartfelt story about a man and his dog, or scientific reference book. And while some topics can pull this off, I didn't really feel it in this one.

On a rafting/camping/etc trip in the desert, Ted Kerasote comes across a half grown pup that is wild, but accustomed to humans. As he seems to have no owner, Ted takes him with him and grows to love this dog he names Merle. After the trip, Merle comes home with Ted to Wyoming where he becomes a "free range" dog, doing everything on his own and making his own decisions despite Ted being his master. But this does not present a problem for Ted who believes that this is the way dogs should live. He offers several scientific and behavioral studies in the book to back up his decisions in regards to Merle.

When Ted is talking about Merle its great. You can tell he genuinely loves this dog. Even though Merle sounds a little too good to be true, he does seem like a good dog and quite exceptional. Ted himself takes a backseat to the dog and while he delves into his relationships a bit, he doesn't describe himself as much as he does Merle. Likewise with the people in the town where he lives, their dogs get more explanation and detail than they do. And even those dogs don't get near as much explanation as Merle, which is to be expected.

When Ted's writing about Merle and their exploits together his writing is terrific. You can really feel the connection he has with Merle. But then he starts getting preachy about dog training and how Merle's life is the best compared to most dogs and adds in all the scientific and other stuff. If I had wanted to read about dog training and such I would have chose a book on that and as such, this book just had too much of that in it. I relished the parts where he told the story and dreaded the other parts. Although the last chapter was rather difficult for any animal lover. But it wasn't near as bad as the reviews I had read on it would account for. And that's all I'm saying on that subject as to not spoil it for anyone else. I did enjoy the parts where he and Merle are out and about doing athletic stuff as really enjoys spending time with Merle and doesn't let it keep him from doing what he normally would do if he didn't have a dog.

An ok book. Would have been great if he had chose a topic and stuck with it instead of trying to combine two different types of books. Not sure if I'll read anything else by him or not.

Merle's Door
Copyright 2007
361 pages

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