It is rare that I ever feel compelled to give a review of a book that I have not yet even finished, but sometimes, when I come across a truly exceptional story, I do make an exception. This book is one of them.
I ran across a copy of "Merle's Door" last year whilst at a book sale held at my workplace. They say never to judge a book by it's cover, but that dust jacket photo of the big golden dog posing so complacently while surrounded by such breathtaking mountain wilderness completely drew me in. And since I am a huge dog lover, I decided to give this book a try.
I certainly was not disappointed. The author, Ted Kerasote, has created a unique and compelling tale of his relationship with Merle, a wayward. big golden dog who happened to wander up to the author and his travelling companions during an outdoor wilderness trip. The dog, appearing to be abandoned, yet not helpless, won over the author's heart, and by the time the trip ended, "Merle" had found a new home.
What I love about this book is not only the way that the author has successfully captured the personality of this wonderful, enigmatic dog...but he has told the story on multiple levels, quite effectively describing his intense bond with Merle, as well as offering Merle's own canid point of view throughout the chapters. Intermixed with this is quite interesting facts and data about dogs and their distant relatives, the wolf, studies and observations from various animal behaviourists, psychologists, and others, collected throughout the years. The perspective is unique and often very interesting.
Right now I am about 3/4 of the way through "Merle's Door", and quite honestly, every time I go to bed (my prime time for reading) I cannot wait to pick up where I left off. I suspect that part of the reason I am finding this book compelling is because every descriptive of Merle reminds me very much of my own dog, Kaya, whom I lost two months ago to cancer. Their personalities, as Merle's has been captured in the pages, sound very much alike...independent; happy-go-lucky yet incredibly strong in character; great sense of humour. Their physical embodiments were quite similar, with the exception that Merle would have been larger than my Kaya; even the way in which we met were somewhat similar...a dog without a home, a recognition of spirits. But the tenacity and intelligence of the two, I suspect, would have been almost a parallel. Of course I am also hesitant to read the final chapters of Merle's story...given the still raw pain I have from losing my girl, the final chapter of Merle's story will most likely open those wounds again...but of course I will have to finish the book. I've read many stories of dogs which were written by their owners' some that completely mesmerize the reader, others that somehow miss the mark. With "Merle's Door", the book definitely captures one's attention, holds the reader's interest, and yes...manages to embrace one's heart.
This book is one of those rare canine biographies that truly and completely captures the love of a dog and his person. Reading through the pages, I guarantee it will have every dog lover nodding in agreement, laughing out loud at the anecdotes, and ultimately, feeling that intense depth of pain during the final read. A classic, and a treasured book for any 'dog person'.