Merle's Door- GREAT BOOK!

I picked up a book yesterday and wanted to share it with all of you. It is called "Merle's Door: lessons from a freethinking dog"

The book is about a man, Ted, who find a dog roaming the desert (a ten month old pup) and brings him home and what they teach each other.

A lot of it is about training a dog off leash and letting him/her make their own decisions. That is clearly not possible for a lot of us with Bs. At least, not for me, who lives in a city. But, our dogs are already pretty freethinking and make their own decisions naturally. So, it is very interesting to read about someone watching their dog learn "cause and effect" (ie- don't try and play with a bison, you will get hurt)

A non-fiction book with great narrative and a lot of great facts, it isn't specifically about Basenji's (the dog is a lab/hound of some sort mix) but a great read for any dog lover. I am about halfway through it right now, and if anyone else has read or is reading it, I would love to have a dialogue.

thanks for the heads up on a good book. Just reserved it at the library.

I'm telling you- I can't put it down! Let me know what you think.

As a note on this book. One of the things I find most interesting about it is that it deals a lot with giving a dog his own freedom, and letting him figure out the world, and where he fits in it. Yes, it talks about the pack structure, but it also takes some great data and tells why this may not actually fit in the Human/Canine relationship. It makes a VERY strong case for treating your dog as an equal, instead of treating them as a subordinate.

It does discuss socialization, but it makes the case that this socialization is a life-long process, that while the most formative time is during puppyhood (lets say up to 12 weeks) it continues…..and it is important for young dogs to also learn from adult dogs.

The theories put forth in this book are sometimes challenging, sometimes inspiring, and always informed.

It has DEFINITELY changed the way I want to train Jack. No, I can't let him off of his lead where I live (far too urban) but I can let him make his own decisions in our house and yard, and I can let him work through problems on his own.

Take, for example, our tie line in the back yard, which he constantly gets wrapped around the gutter extension. Will he learn how to un-tangle it if I leave him alone, instead of untangling it for him? I don't know- it is worth a shot. I do know that I want a dog who can make his own decisions and who can do so intelligently by studying the world around him.

I realize this is probably old news, but has everyone read Marley and Me? It is the story of a man and his wife who adopt a puppy, a yellow lab, who grows to be enormous and unruly. The book tells of Marley's antics, and over time he becomes a cherished member of the family. I cried at the end of the book, but it was a great book for any dog lover, regardless of your favorite breed.

I haven't read that book, it sounds very similar to this one. I finished it today on my ride home on the subway and was crying the whole way. There were people staring at me. But I just couldn't stop! I will have to pick up Marley and me next.

@CyrusVirus:

I realize this is probably old news, but has everyone read Marley and Me? It is the story of a man and his wife who adopt a puppy, a yellow lab, who grows to be enormous and unruly. The book tells of Marley's antics, and over time he becomes a cherished member of the family. I cried at the end of the book, but it was a great book for any dog lover, regardless of your favorite breed.

I just started reading it, about 1/4 through. It's good, enjoyable. What I find funny is that being a Basenji owner, I don't find Marley to be that bad of a dog at all!!! I guess it's all relative…

@Tommy360:

I just started reading it, about 1/4 through. It's good, enjoyable. What I find funny is that being a Basenji owner, I don't find Marley to be that bad of a dog at all!!! I guess it's all relative…

Our Lab was "Marley…The Dark Side"! After she died, we were pretty sure there was very little that a basenji could throw our way that we weren't prepared for! In fact, one of the most important questions we asked Robyn when we inquired about Cory was "How does she react to thunder storms?" One of my friends gave me the book about Marley because of our trials with Cassie and all the damage she had done. And I did really enjoy the book.

Pat

I loved Merle's Door! My parents live in a rural area and they allow their dog to make her own decisions. It has worked very well and she is a great dog! I will say that she is also a Hound mix demands respect!

@Congo:

I loved Merle's Door! My parents live in a rural area and they allow their dog to make her own decisions. It has worked very well and she is a great dog! I will say that she is also a Hound mix demands respect!

See- that is the thing- the book gave a new perspective to training didn't it? Because all of the books I read and the classes I went to with Jack, they all kept harping on "be the alpha, be the alpha" and while that is great and all and has its place, it was so refreshing to see another view that gives dogs some respect.

I am also thrilled to hear from someone who has seem this "method" in action and that it works as well in real life as it seems to in the book.

And didn't you just bawl at the end? I was literally riding the T home as I was finishing it and people were staring because I literally could not keep it together. Yeah, picture it…..subway car, downtown Boston, some weird lady sobbing in the corner seat with her nose in a book.....that was me.:D

I read both books and found Merle's Door much better, but I still had mixed feelings. I was impressed that the author researched and provided all the extra scientific information – that was great. However, I thought he projected some of this own thinking onto Merle (for instance I don't believe Merle's learning not to attack bison had anything to do with Ted's talking to him) but overall found it thought provoking. I think Ted's living circumstances and the Navajo puppy training (which we don't know about) before Ted had a lot to do with how Merle behaved -- free roaming wouldn't work in urban settings even if you could remove all the stupid pet owners. But it does provide "ammunition" for creating and maintaining dog parks for socialization. I was sad at the end however - not because both dogs (Merle and Brower) died but because they died in such drawn out conditions. That part really surprised me. Sorry if I've given too much of the story away.

So glad you liked it….I had mixed feelings about certain points of the book as well.

See- I agree with you that I don't think that Merle's learning not to attack Bison had anything to do with Ted- I think he learned by dealing with the consequences...."If I rush this big hairy thing, it knocks me on the ground, I think I will go a different way"

Free roaming would definitely not work in an urban setting.....and definitely not with a basenji.

The end was sad....I think it seemed drawn out, to make it more tearjerking at the end...which it was...but I thought it did show two different side of death....one where a dog is put to sleep because of the pain he is in, and the other, where a dog who isn't in pain, is left to die of natural causes. There are pros and cons to each, but I think that is a decision each dog owner has to make at the time.

Oh yes I agree about the end of life issue - and I thought it was a good idea to include those questions about helping to decide. It's a really tough decision I know.
re: the bison – a previous mutt I had used to hang around the neighbor's horses and tease them by nipping (nothing serious) at their heels. Finally one horse had enough and kicked him (not very hard - no damage). My dog never ever teased any of the horses again. I think most dogs would naturally make that kind of learning association -- big animal hurt me, leave big animal alone.

@wizard:

Oh yes I agree about the end of life issue - and I thought it was a good idea to include those questions about helping to decide. It's a really tough decision I know.
re: the bison – a previous mutt I had used to hang around the neighbor's horses and tease them by nipping (nothing serious) at their heels. Finally one horse had enough and kicked him (not very hard - no damage). My dog never ever teased any of the horses again. I think most dogs would naturally make that kind of learning association -- big animal hurt me, leave big animal alone.

EXACTLY! Big animal hurt me, leave big animal alone…..that is perfect!

I'm so glad to have this kind of dialogue about the book....I read it and really felt the need to discuss. THANK YOU!!!

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.