April 12th, 2009 at 9:31 am
I am a dog person.
As mentioned in my review of Marley & Me, being a dog person and a book person, I am methodically reading every book on the topic.
Ted Kerasote’s Merle’s Door was the next dog book that managed to bark loud enough for me to pet it. There’s more to this metaphor. Much as I like the smell of books, I too enjoy the sweet, nutty aroma of my pooch.
Near the end of Merle’s Door, Kerasote quotes philosopher Raymond Gaita: “ ‘we do not write biographies of animals’ because they do not have ‘distinctive identities’ and cannot make or fail ‘to make something of their lives.’ Consequently, they are unable to find in their lives a ‘reason for joy and gratitude.’”
Kerasote mentions this of course to contradict it, which he has been doing, quite entertainingly, for 341 pages. Because Merle’s Door stands as a great biography. Of a dog.
Though filled with cutting-edge canine research and expertise and charming doggy anecdotes, Merle’s Door focuses on the inherently symbiotic dog-human relationship that rebukes the philosophy of popular television personalities and dog trainers who preach an entirely unilateral mandate of “pack leader” dominance over dogs.
Guilty of his own innocent anthropomorphizing, Kerasote’s books stands as a testament to the enormously positive condition of the human-canine relationship at a time when such companionship has been perverted by an ever-changing world that is dominated by man’s technology over the natural world order.
And it stands as a testament to the sheer power, eloquence, and persuasion that can be achieved by writing simply and passionately about what one observes, learns, and feels.