I love pretty much all animals, especially dogs, so you'd think I would have already read Merle's Door (2007) by Ted Kerasote. I had definitely seen it at Target, but by then I had already read Marley and Me (which I enjoyed), and from the cover, I just assumed it was a cheap rip-off of Marley and Me, trying to make some bucks off the earlier success. I find animals and especially animal behavior fascinating, but there are only so many life stories of family pets that I want to read, especially considering that I know how they're all going to end. But then my father bought and read Merle's Door and couldn't stop talking about it, so I borrowed it from him. And I ended up loving it.
Ted Kerasote was on a river trip with some friends on the San Juan river in Utah when a young dog joined their group. After taking the dog down the river with them, Kerasote adopts him, brings him home to the Tetons in Wyoming, and names him Merle. Merle is a smart, independent, exuberant dog that loves to hunt elk, hike, and ski, and is a perfect partner for Kerasote.
Although I quickly fell in love with Merle, I was struck by Kerasote's sensitivity in detailing his dog's life and feelings, his own life and feelings, and his love for the outdoors. I appreciated the way Kerasote thinks about his relationship to the animals and world around him, and I enjoyed vicariously living the independent, active, rugged life that he described. Even with all the detail provided, I found myself wanting to know more about Kerasote and his life. I'm not sure how this interest would translate to others who don't share the same views or love of animals, dogs, and wilderness, but I'll definitely be reading more by him.