Friday, August 28, 2009

Merle's Door ~ by Ted Kerasote, 2007

Even before I joined Kailana's Four-Legged Friends reading challenge, I had already agreed to review this book. A very happy conjunction, as it turned out. What I like best is the way the author shows how people and dogs communicate with each other. Merle was one smart dog, and Ted wasn't so bad himself. The book:

Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog ~ by Ted Kerasote, 2007, memoir.

While on a camping trip, Ted met a Labrador mix dog living in the wild. When they became attached to each other, Ted name the dog Merle and brought him home. When he realized Merle’s native intelligence would be diminished by living exclusively in the human world, Ted put a dog door in his house so Merle could live both outside and inside, thus "Merle's door." I recognized some of the issues that both animals and humans face when living together, but I was fascinated when the author showed how dogs might live if they were allowed to make more of their own decisions. This is a very touching story, and I very much wanted to know all about Merle.

Rated: 9/10, an excellent book.

One of Kailana's rules for the Four-Legged Friends challenge is to tell something about our pets in our introductory post. I have had a number of pets ... turtles, puppies, fish, kitties, salamander, and a hamster named Herman, for example ... but the ones I have bonded with have mostly been cats. The most memorable dog was named Pippa.


Pippa got her name from Robert Browning's famous poem "Pippa Passes," published in 1841. Perhaps the most famous passage is sung by a little Italian girl named Pippa:
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!
Each of my three children memorized these lines and could recite them to me. (Okay, I bribed them to do it for a quarter apiece, which really was worth a little bit of something in the late 1960s.) Pippa was a regular-sized collie with a very sweet and loving personality. I have a photo of her romping with David when my son couldn't have been more than five or six years old. They were in the lower part of the yard, down near the stream that ran through our back yard, near my children's earliest treehouse which was built beside a large tree and had a sandbox under it.

That's one of the good memories, but the bad memory almost obliterate the good. On December 12, 1977, we arrived home after dark to discover Pippa lying dead in the upper part of the back yard. She had been shot and killed, we learned later, by someone who said to my daughter at school, "I know who killed your dog." It was apparently a boy she refused to date, a boy who must have come around the end of our house and shot Pippa with a 22-rifle as she stared toward the back road, away from the shooter. A beloved pet was killed by a boy who wanted my daughter to suffer because she wouldn't go out with him. And I am so glad she never did! I was fearful for the longest time, however, that the next time it would be one of my children.

Here are all my posts for this challenge, with a story about one of my pets with each book review.

1. Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog ~ by Ted Kerasote ~ dedicated the memory of Pippa, a most memorable dog.
2. The Fur Person ~ by May Sarton ~ dedicated to the memory of Jack, a gentleman cat.
3. Cat's Eyewitness ~ by Rita Mae Brown and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown ~ dedicated to Kiki, the lovingest cat I've ever had.
4. Goldie (The Puppy Place Series #1) ~ by Ellen Miles ~ dedicated to the memory of Herman, our hamster.
5. Sign-up for this challenge ~ dedicated to the memory of Duchess, the cat who found me.


June said...

Just so happens that my travel mate was telling me about Merle's Door today...

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I think you'd love this book, June. Run by here some day and I'll let you borrow my copy.