<b>Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog</b> The dilemma of the canine's true nature is explored by award-winning writer Ted Kerasote in <b>Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog</b>. Touches of a crunchy-granola-hippie philosophy infuse the story that begins when a dog approaches outdoorsman Kerasote and his friends while they're on a river camping trip in Utah. Apparently living on its own in the scrub among the Navajo, the friendly Lab mix endears itself to the whole camp; when they pack up for their next site downriver, the dog runs along the shore, unsure about leaving behind its familiar territory. But as in the best Disney story, the dog jumps into the boat at the very last second and chooses somewhat loosely Kerasote as his companion. Merle and the free-spirited writer return to his small Wyoming town and settle into the give-and-take of getting to know each other, mano-a-dogo. Kerasote observes, romanticizes, admires and resorts to the inexplicable to indulge, then curb Merle's behavior, confused about how to help the dog adjust to life with humans while remaining wild. Though he often takes the observations of experts (Dr. Temple Grandin, the Monks of New Skete, Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz, Dr. Richard Skinner) out of context to bolster his own preconceptions, Kerasote retains deep respect for Merle's essential nature and longing for freedom. Blasting out of his doggie door to explore the countryside, visiting neighbors and hunting wild animals then returning to home and hearth, Merle leads Kerasote to ponder, make mistakes, love and learn. The unapologetic imperfection of Kerasote's choices proves that relationships with dogs are as complicated as human ones, a reflection of our own essential humanity.

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