Summer Reading: Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog ~Ted Kerasote
Warning I have not finished this book. I have read to the last chapter and the author has saved the last chapter for the death of his dog. This is a book about a dog and the dog dies.
I actually try not to read stories about dogs, because the dog always dies. I always weep and weep after I read these stories, even when they are not such good stories.
I do have a rule of thumb though. Whenever someone says you must read this book and I hear that about the same book 3 times, I pull up the rule at hand and read the book. Three people commented on this book. Two who commented had gone to see the movie Marley and Me and felt that Merle’s Door was a better read than Marley.
The third person who asked me to read the book is one of my neighbors who was out walking his 2 Labrador retrievers and first asked me where my two dogs were – so I knew he had seen me around!
This is a very well written and researched book by a professional writer. Kerasote is on a river rafting trip in the desert and this big golden dog just bounds out of the tree line and adopts him. Writer meets dog and it is a story with lots of scientific research into the development of the culture, rules of smell and growth of a loving bond. The author calls out so many details of life and living and how we all learn to get along, this book is a study of living life wrapped inside the tale of a man and his best friend.
I have highlighted so many pages in this book and pressed sticky notes in the margins that it looks like a text and not a novel. Here is an example of one of my favorite lessons:
I had reached a point in my relationship with my dog from which there was no going back. I had come to admit that he had a life of his own. At least I couldn’t go back easily, and if I tried, I’d have to resort to the ‘just’ phrase, the phrase every privileged class has used when trying to protect its interests while disregarding those of whom it considers its inferiors: He’s just a slave; she’s just a woman; it’s just a dog. But after witnessing firsthand the breadth of Merle’s personality, I’d then have to deal with what the psychologists call ‘cognitive dissonance.’ More bluntly, I’d have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror.
Mr. Kerasote has written a number of other books about the wilds of America and his adventures in studying and exploring. He has a fine style of prose, great knowledge and does a tremendous amount of research. I think I would like to read another one of his books in the future to explore his keen understanding of our world. Hopefully his book will not end with a chapter about his dog dying.
How are you with reading animal stories? Does an author ever intrigue you to read some of their other work? If you only read blogs will you read some of the blogger’s books that are coming out?
Summer Reading: Breakfast with Buddha ~Roland Merullo
Due Date for Writing Contest THE DIVORCE coming up June 1, 2009. Check it out.