I finished reading Merle's Door last night; I cried like a baby through the last forty pages.
At this point, since bringing Hooper home, I have read about a dozen or more books about dogs: dog training, dog breeds, dog behavior, dog health care, dogs; the last category includes your typical dog memoir or reflection on living pets, and so far Ted Kerasote's book totally nails it. Granted, Merle is a fantastic dog, living in fantastic conditions, but the story is still a real rags to riches story, rife with dog care and training tips--and, what I feel is one of the most important skills required of any dog owner, observational tips.
Ethologists will piss all over this book as a 400-page homage to anthropomorphism. And while I admit there is a lot of the author inserting plain-english words into his dog's inner monologue, we all do that. Every dog owner out there knows they're guilty of making up Fido's inner thoughts while out for a play session in the dog park, and you know it.
So, getting past that, you have a wonderful story of a man who takes in a stray dog and together they teach EACH OTHER many important lessons of life. These are lessons I'm learning now, taught by Hooper, and having read "Merle's Door" are lessons I'm absorbing and cherishing much more deeply, knowing Merle's--and all dogs'--ultimate fate. And I guess that's lesson number one that dogs teach us, is that life's too short to sweat the small stuff.
I loved this book.