An engaging, comprehensive study of man’s best friend.
In 2008, Kerasote told the tale of his relationship with his beloved Merle (Merle’s Door, 2008, etc.), the stray dog who basically walked out of the desert and became the author’s stalwart companion. After Merle succumbed to a brain tumor, Kerasote mourned his loss by investigating the factors that influence a dog’s longevity, undertaking a quest to find and raise the healthiest pup possible. “Why has nature decreed that our friendly dogs are already ancient in their teens,” asks the author, “while giving the unhuggable tortoise more than a century of life and some whales two hundred years to swim through the polar seas?” Kerasote attempts to answer that question, combining his close personal observations of canine behavior and health with extensive veterinary input and field research. With his trademark attention to detail and masterful descriptive abilities, Kerasote delves into the crucial factors affecting a dog’s life—breeding, diet, environment, spaying and neutering, living conditions—as he chronicles his hunt for and acquisition of Pukka (pronounced PUCK-ah and Hindi for “first-class”), the good-natured golden Labrador retriever puppy born in Minnesota, whom the author took back home to live with him in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Kerasote covers every aspect of young Pukka’s life, from the genetics and character of his parents, to the car restraints fashioned for their road trip home, to the best food to feed him. Kerasote also graphically probes issues in the U.S. animal shelter system, noting that in a country with upwards of 60 million dogs, 3.4 million dogs and cats are euthanized annually, a vast number compared to Europe and other developed nations. The book is packed with considered, sometimes controversial, reflections alongside accompanying illustrations and helpful notes.
At once encyclopedic and intimate—a tour de force in canine appreciation.