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Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog Hardcover – July 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; First Edition edition (July 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151012709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151012701
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Merle showed up at the San Juan River at the same time Kerasote and his river-rafting friends arrived. Merle looked at Kerasote as if to say, "You need a dog, and I'm it." He accompanied the group down the river and then went home to Wyoming with Kerasote. A dog who was eager to please and almost trained himself, Merle learned the ways of bison, ground squirrels, and coyotes. Merle then taught Kerasote the fullness of the hunt, leading Kerasote to his favorite prey. But, after Kerasote installed a dog door, the main thing Merle taught him is that a dog develops to his full potential, becoming the dog he was meant to be, when allowed to make his own decisions. Merle developed a life of his own, patrolling the small settlement where they lived with his dog companions, and yet was always very aware of Kerasote and his schedule. In telling Merle's story, Kerasote also explores the science behind canine behavior and evolution, weaving in research on the human-canine bond and musing on the way dogs see the world. Merle is a true character, yet Merle is also Everydog. An absolute treasure of a book. Bent, Nancy

More About the Author

Ted Kerasote is the author of many books, including the national bestseller "Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog" and "Out There: In The Wild in a Wired Age", which won the National Outdoor Book Award. His essays and photographs have appeared in Audubon, Geo, Outside, Science, The New York Times, and more than sixty other periodicals. Focusing on the interrelationship between people and nature, Ted's writing continues to take him from the Arctic to Africa and many places in between. His home, and the place he finds his peace and inspiration, remains Jackson Hole, the high valley that lies between the Teton and Gros Ventre mountains in northwestern Wyoming.

Customer Reviews

You will cry at the end if you read this book.
avid reader
It is a warm loving story about the relationship between Ted & Merle.
Terrence D. Brown
Great book, great read, would recommend it to any dog lover.
peggyglennie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

389 of 398 people found the following review helpful By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on July 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Wow. What a book." These are the words that I breathed out when I reached the end of Merle's Door.

Ted Kerasote is to writers what Mozart is to composers. His writing is that good. If he were to write about how the grass grew in his yard over summer, I have no doubt it would be a page-turner.

But that's not the story he wrote. This story is so much more. This unforgettable story begins when a big golden dog emerges from the dark to introduce himself to a small group of people camping in the desert. One of those people was Ted Kerasote, and the dog went home with him. As the story unfolds, we are taken on an amazing journey that goes well beyond "a boy and his dog."

Good relationships are built on mutual respect, and this relationship was better than most. This book is the story of that relationship. These two were the best of friends, and this account of their life together shows how each grew and learned from the other. Love, patience, and understanding are evident throughout the book.

At times, this book is humorous, and at other times it's instructive. But always, it's interesting. One of the lessons Merle taught Ted was that great things can happen if humans will change their behavior instead of always trying to change the behavior of their dogs. The prevailing wisdom is that dogs must be trained and molded a certain way, and treated as though they have no independent powers of judgment. Merle proved this isn't so wise.

The problem is that people don't let their dogs grow up. They make the dog into a perpetual child, and then are surprised when anxiety surfaces in the form of behavior problems. But how would you feel if you always had someone telling you what to do, and not letting you make any decisions on your own?
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110 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Lori Pritchett on July 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book knowing nothing about it or the author. I love dogs and had the love of my life dog pass away about 2 years ago. I've read Marley and Me and other dog books, but somehow they didn't come close to expressing the bond between man and dog as this book does so flawlessly. I read the book right away as we are now raising two puppies and I thought the book would be instructional. Wow. Although the book is instructional, it is so much more than that. This book touched me like nothing has in a long time. I finished it last night and I still can't think about it without choking up. What a life! It makes me want to go put my arms around the author and tell him I understand.
Bravo!! Well written. 5 stars. I loved it. I wish I had known Merle.
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156 of 167 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Capshew on June 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
First, the cold facts. Ted Kerasote has an uncanny ability to mix the sociology and history of dogs with humans and the very personal story of his life with his extraordinary Labrador mix, Merle, and makes it work like no other dog book I've read (and that's a lot of books). He is such a good writer that it's fun to read science part. But what really makes Merle's Door sing, or howl, is the poignant love story of Ted and Merle as they get to know more about each other over the years. Merle's story as told through Ted, who can put the words on the page since Merle could not, rings so true. When you read this book you are reading the story of two friends who share a life of adventure and love that is simply all too short. Millions of humans have had loving relationships with our canine halves, and never has it been so eloquently distilled in a single volume as this book. Read it, shed some tears of joy, give it to your friends, this is a magical book.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By agnes bonaparte on September 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book was UNBELIEVABLE. This was quite possibly the best book I have ever read. It was so intelligent, interesting, well written, suspenseful, insightful, heart rending and hilarious. I was up half the night AFTER I finished it contemplating its many facets. I cannot recommend this enough. Make no mistake, this is a story of deep, life changing friendship that few, if any, of us ever experience in our lives with anybody. It is a love story, and a tale of life's deepest lessons, told with such flair you cannot stop reading. Ted Kerasote is a man I would really like to meet. He is insightful and above all one of the most compassionate people I have ever read about. And what a life, full of excitement and adventure, and Merle is along for every experience, contributing his unique input at every opportunity.

I also admire a tale about letting your dog be a DOG and not treating it like a stuffed animal....i.e. carrying it around in a pocketbook like a fashion accessory. I only wish I could provide my dogs with a mountain range teeming with wildlife and a town full of other friendly people and dogs to romp with off leash.

I was literally sobbing at the end, and I felt this book opened my eyes in the sense that it brings home a point we all know but seldom think about. Life is so, so short for all of us, and if we pay attention, we can make sure our time on this earth is filled with happiness, earth shattering love, beauty, peace, and deep meaning if we let it.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By GMW on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a bit surprised by some of the negative reviews of this book, especially the chap that suggested that you "skip this book." If you skip it you will have missed a gem. It is not a dog training book or a "treatise on animal behavior" as someone suggested. It is the telling of a thirteen year relationship between a man and a dog and the life that they shared together. The author intersperses the narrative with research that support his observations over the years. He makes no attempt to state that his research and conclusions are absolute or scientific findings;just the results of asking questions and having a curious mind. You will laugh, you will cry and you will be left with a special feeling of being allowed to vicariously share the life of Ted and Merle. Anyone who has loved and lost a great, special dog will understand and cherish the book.
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