Monday, February 18, 2008

Five Minutes with Maggie, Merle's Door

Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote

I will be the first to admit it: I'm obsessed with my dogs. They are two of the smartest, funniest, most loving creatures I have ever known. Every single day is a delight as they snuggle me and entertain me. While many of my friends tease me about my puppy obsession, in Merle's Door, it's clear that Ted Kerasote knows how I feel. In the opening chapter of the book, Kerasote is out camping with friends when a young stray wanders over to their group and makes camp with them. Kerasote names the young dog Merle, and that is the beginning of their friendship. Like most dog owners, Kerasote delights in Merle's accomplishments and tries to teach him good behavior. Unlike many dog owners, Kerasote also allows Merle many freedoms. He installs a dog door so that Merle can come and go as he pleases. He allows Merle to roam the town during the day and explore the great outdoors. It's a unique, trusting, and very loving relationship full of ups and downs.

Kerasote's writing is entertaining and engaging. The book is fascinating because he incorporates the science behind what causes a dog to be a dog. He uses anecdotes about Merle to illustrate many findings in animal behavior. The scientific research that makes up the meat of this book helped me to understand why my dogs behave the way they do, and it made me really see the importance of the bond I have with the two of them. This book is a must-read for animal lovers of all kinds – though many of the moments are so touching and so heartbreaking that you need to have a full box of Kleenex on hand. --Maggie Marton

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