merle’s door

I just finished this book this past weekend. It’s pretty good, as far as dog books go. I’ve been reading/listening to more of them lately. Marley and Me, A Good Dog, and Merle’s Door all tell a story about a dog, but also cover lots of issues at the same time: History, biology, behavior (human and animal)…

I like alot what Kerasote has to say about encouraging an off-leash lifestyle for your dog. I free Aggie as much as possible and we go months without her wearing a collar.

I’m the first to admit that sometimes it backfires. I don’t live in the middle of nowhere where she’s very safe to run where she wants. But she most of her decisions are safe, healthy ones.

But I’m coming to the conclusion that, just as with people, these things depend on the dog’s personality. A dog that doesn’t pay attention to stimuli other than it’s nose is not going to hear the car that hits it.

And yet our society is becoming more and more controlling of our dogs. Crate training is supposed to be healthy and reassuring to dogs because they are “denning” animals, descending from wolves. But wolves don’t den unless they are whelping mothers.

Alot of people will disagree with me, but I don’t like crate training. I don’t like forcing my dog to become a robot and I don’t like her remaining a puppy for the rest of her life. I want her to be smart enough to make good decisions and learn. Playing like a puppy is fun, some of the time; just not all the time. I like that Aggie is competent. I like that she’s still learning. I can trust her not to wander when the gate to the yard is open. She’s completely trustworthy inside my house for hours.

I don’t like how unfriendly our society is becoming towards dogs. People say that dogs are dangerous and we have to control them to keep the public from being bit. But most dog bites happen within a home, by a dog known to the bitee. In fact (and there’s a reference I’ll add when I find it), you’re about as likely to be poisoned as to be bitten by a dog.

I did go to Ted Kerasote’s website and have begun reading his essays. This one is really important for both dog people and those who live around them = everyone! merle1

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