Book Review: 'Merle's Door' by Ted Kerasote

Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking DogMerle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote

Merle's Door is a portal to better understanding the life of a dog, our own lives, and how we relate to dogs and the world around us.

Wyoming resident Ted Kerasote's 2007 memoir of his time with Merle, the golden Lab mix whose path crossed his during a camping trip along the San Juan River many moons ago, is the story of humanity's relationship with dogs throughout history as well as a testament to our dogs' role as interpreters of the natural world for us.

I downloaded the book to my Kindle, thinking, "Don't make me cry, whoever you are who wrote this thing. Just tell me what you know about dogs. And Merle, don’t die in the end.”

Ted did. Merle did. I did.

Merle chose Ted when he climbed into his truck and took the ride to Kelly, Wyoming. There he enjoyed full citizenship as well as celebrity status as he skied and hunted and hiked and cycled with Ted. Merle was the best of teachers as he deepened Ted’s understanding of the natural world and the nature of dogs and people.

Ted did his best to make sense of Merle’s reactions to his behavior—why he ran from guns but ran for coyotes, why he finished his bones when he was younger but left them for other dogs when he was older, why Merle needed a door of his own….

Kerasote had me thinking of the love of my own life, Cuchulainn, a black Lab mix from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who was my best friend, body guard, hot water bottle, and confidant. Cu came to me by way of someone I loved very much who bought him from a hobo for the price of a bottle of hard cider. Cu grew into my loyal companion as we navigated the conflicted world of Northern Ireland. I’d take that dog up Belfast Mountain, and when I’d stop to rest or have lunch, he’d sit 50 feet from me and keep an eye on everything. He kept me warm on the cold nights and stayed close every time my heart broke and every other minute of his life.

The other day a friend whose dog recently died remarked to me, “You put so much of yourself into your dog.” He added this wasn’t true of every dog. That magic is a miracle for you and the dog that claims you. We live and die with our dogs. Of course.

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  1. I just loved this book. I am glad you found it.

  2. P.S. I pushed publish before my thoughts were finished.Geez... I wanted to say that yes, we do put a lot into our dogs life just as they are a great part of ours. Not every dog is created equal but as Ceasar says you are given a dog in your life that matches your needs. We learn so much from them.

  3. I believe all our pets are resurrected so we'll see them again, if that's any comfort...sweet story!

  4. Sandy, I have lost your email and I was wanting to send you some new graffiti. If you want it send me your email.

  5. and our kitties too, they are our boon companions!

    Friendly Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral
    > < } } (°>

  6. Sounds like an interesting book - although my bedside table is already groaning under the strain of unread books!

    Thanks for the comment!

    Stewart M - Australia

  7. Anonymous11:29 PM

    Wonderful review. Loved what you say about dogs. It's so wonderful to find that one magic dog that is a miracle for you.

  8. Thanks for this interesting review, Sandy.

  9. Even I'm lazy and late in reading books, this one sounds very warm and interesting! and saaad.. I like drama.. even if they turn me down..


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