cover Merle's Door
Lessons from a Freethinking Dog

by Ted Kerasote

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 2008
paperback | 416 pages

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Merle and Ted found each other in the Utah desert. Merle was about ten months old, surviving on his own, and looking for a human to hang his heart on. Ted was forty-one, liked to write about animals, and had been searching for a pup whom he could shape into a companion. The training went both ways. Ted showed Merle how to live around wildlife, and Merle reshaped Ted's ideas about the complexity of a dog's mind, showing him how a dog's intelligence could be expanded by allowing it to make more of its own decisions.

Acting as Merle's translator, and using Merle's life and lessons as a door into the world of dogs, Ted takes us on the journey they shared. He explores why the dog-human bond is so intense and how people and dogs communicate so readily with each other. He also uses the latest wolf research — showing that wolves treat maturing pups as partners rather than as subordinates — to explain how sharing leadership with your dog, rather than being its alpha, can help to create a healthier, more self-reliant, and better-socialized companion.

Funny, fascinating, and tender, Merle's Door is a moving love story that reveals how the partnership between dogs and humans can become far more than we have imagined.

Merle and Ted Kerasote


"Merle's Door is a truly wonderful book—iconoclastic, mind-blowing, and gorgeously written."
—Delia Ephron, author of Hanging Up and Frannie in Pieces

"This exquisitely written book is sure to be controversial, but it raises important questions that every thoughtful dog owner should consider."
—Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., author of The Other End of the Leash

"It is no exaggeration to say that Merle's Door could be the best book ever written about dogs."
—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs

"Kerasote has created a whole new work of art. Merle's Door is the best, the most utterly compelling translation of dog to human I have ever seen. A terrific book, a superb book, I can't think of a single other book that conveys the love of a human for a dog so well."
—Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of Dogs Never Lie About Love

"Merle's Door is a window into the mind of a dog. You will experience his loyalty, fears, and joys and his true inner self. Everybody who loves dogs must read this book."
—Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation

"Merle's Door is a love story for grown-ups—an intense reciprocal relationship between a dog and his man, and how we and our dogs genuinely share feelings and emotions."
—Dr. Bruce Fogle, DVM, author of The Dog's Mind

"Merle's Door is a joyous, sad, gripping, and deeply moving testament to the fulfilling relationship that can grow between human and dog."
—Juliet Clutton-Brock, author of A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals

"To be entertained and educated at the same time is rare in dog books, which makes this one definitely worth reading."
—Stanley Coren, author of How Dogs Think and The Intelligence of Dogs

"A thoughtful look at animal intelligence and the human-dog connection."
Kirkus Reviews