Sunday, July 27, 2008

Merle's Door ; Lessons from a Freethinking Dog

Merle's Door; Lessons from a Freethinking Dog
Author: Ted Kerasote
Publisher : Harcourt

I absolutely dreaded coming to the end of this book. The closer I came to the end, the slower I read, and when the last page was read, I sat and had a good cry.

We got our dog eleven months ago, and it has been a challenge. At one point, my Mother-In-law suggested we take her to the pound. I replied that our dog is Family, that she is one of us, and it was a concept that my mother In Law simply could not comprehend. "It's Just A Dog", she told me.

My Mother-In-Law needs to read Merle's Door, because this book has the power to change how human beings see animals.

I know that when you "review" a book, you should talk about the actual book, the story, the plot, how good the writing was, etc, but this book was more that just words on paper, it changed me. It changed how I feel and act in regards to my own dog. To the dog that lives across the street, and the one that lives next door. It changed my very definition of the word "dog".

"Merle's Door" should be required reading for every person before they make the decision to share their life with a dog.

"This exquisite written book is sure to be controversial, but it raises important questions that every thoughtful dog owner should consider" Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D.,

The controversy Dr. McConnell refers to starts right in the title of this book. "Freethinking" - that is, a dog who is given the same choices we as humans are given. Merle is not leashed except in the most urban of environments. He has a dog door leading him to the outdoors where no fence is there to keep him caged. He is free to go where he wants, see and do what he wants. To grow and learn.

Not many people feel comfortable giving their dog this type of freedom. Including myself. Smokey is on a leash at all times when outdoors. I worry that she will run off, or worse, get hurt. But am I protecting her? Or am I hindering the natural learning process she deserves to experience?

I'm not sure that I have the strength within myself to give Smokey the freedom that Ted allowed Merle to enjoy. I am sure however, that "Merle's Door; lessons from a freethinking Dog" was an amazing book to read. It's odd to think of it now, but looking back at the book, there is a tonne of information about the nature and history of dogs, but it was written into the story so naturally that it did not distract from the story.

It was a book that made me both laugh out loud and cry, and that, my friends, is a sign of a darn good book.

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