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.
Good research on dog behavior and interaction with humans. Some digression made parts of the book read like a textbook but overall it was great. We just had to face a difficult decision with one of our dogs and the other is in his twilight years, which made this book rather special to us. We live, hike, ski, and maintain trail in this same country, thus could visualize the places Ted described.
Ted does present the view that dogs should be allowed to roam freely as if a leash will stifle them. While it is nice to have our dogs off leash within our view and under voice control, far too many people do not like dogs they do not know, running up to them with no master in sight.
And despite what Ted may believe about dogs not pooping on the trail, he must not have ever skied up Teton canyon, and gotten brown klister all over his skis.
This is the best dog book--fiction or non-fiction--I've ever read!
Excellent but made me cry.