Monday, February 11, 2013

Ted Kerasote's "Pukka's Promise"

Ted Kerasote is the author of several books, including the national bestseller Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog and Out There, which won the National Outdoor Book Award. His essays and photographs have appeared in Audubon, Outside, and the New York Times, among others. He lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Kerasote applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs, and reported the following:
Page 99 recounts my driving away from the Minnesota kennel where I met Pukka. As in many of the book’s other chapters, I relate the ongoing conversation between my dog and me, a conversation that is part spoken words, part gesture, and part observation of a dog’s body language. By filling the book with such conversations, I hope that people will pay more attention to what their dogs are trying to tell them, even when, as in the section below, the dog is still a puppy:
As the farmhouse disappeared behind a windbreak of trees, his face took on a look of surprise, then worry, then shock. A second later, he began to cry, yelping plaintively and turning to me with a look of despair. A stab of guilt went through me: I was taking him from his family to come live with me.

“Oh, Little Sir,” I said softly, trying to comfort him. “It’ll be fine.” I reached over and held my palm against his chest. “Just you wait and see. You’re going to Wyoming where you’ll have room to roam.”

He gave me a skeptical look: “I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.”

“I’m sure you don’t,” I replied.

Nonetheless, he came over to me and settled on the console between the two front seats, giving an anxious yawn before putting his head on his paws and dozing. A few moments later, he opened his eyes, looked around, and let out a whine that sounded like, “Oh my goodness, where am I going?”

“You’re going to the big mountains, with lots of snow, and skiing, and elk to eat. Mmm-mmm-mmm,” I hummed. “And rivers to swim in, so many dog friends to play with, and people who will love you.”

He followed everything I was saying, looking directly into my eyes. Apparently satisfied with my happy tone of voice, he crawled into my lap and put his chin on my left wrist. As we drove along, he slept, awakening now and then to cry out, “Oh, where am I going?” Then he’d close his eyes and begin to dream, paws twitching.
Learn more about Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs.

Visit Ted Kerasote's website and follow him on Facebook.

The Page 69 Test: Merle's Door.

--Marshal Zeringue