Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Review: Pukka's Promise - The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs

Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs
Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs by Ted Kerasote tells the tale of Ted and his new dog Pukka against the backdrop of their cabin at the base of the Teton Mountain Range.

The book starts with Ted's thoughts about his previous dog, Merle, who he adopted as a stray. Merle's legacy is pervasive throughout this work as well as the action that he (Ted) takes in finding a new companion after Merle's passing. Every page of this book is permeated with the love that Ted has for dogs, including those that are his, a local pack of visitors to his cabin, and all canine-kind.

The book is laid out to alternate between Ted and Pukka's adventures and research on a variety of topics related to the health and wellness of dogs.

I was most surprised that Pukka was purchased from a breeder. As someone involved with rescuing homeless animals I was initially taken aback that Ted chose to go this way to find a particular type of dog (a "houndy lab" in his description) rather than adopting one of the many available homeless dogs. That said, his research on breeders and those that are both helping and hurting the breeds that they represent is thorough and very understandable to the lay person. After reading through the entire book, I understand where Ted was coming from in his desire to find a dog that could measure up to his beloved Merle. His experience and research on the topic is just as relevant whether you've adopted a dog or gone the breeder route.

The topic of breeding leads into hereditary diseases that have increased by breed over the years largely due to inbreeding to accentuate particular traits by mating close relatives. I felt like this part of the work tied together a lot of things that I heard anecdotally about breed-specific maladies.

Diet, long-term health concerns, including cancer, and shelters are just a few of the other topics that Ted covers both at home and interviewing a wide variety of professionals including: vets, breeders, manufacturers, and animal behavioralists. I was impressed with the amount of travel and consulting Ted did with throughout the Western Hemisphere to gather his data.

Some of my favorite bits show Ted and Pukka working out how to live together and in harmony in nature. The word training comes to mind here, but it's almost too antiseptic of a word to describe that educational element of their relationship.

This is a quick, fun read that provides a lot of scientific background in a non-threatening way. Regardless of whether you have or dog or not, if you're thinking of getting one in the future, pick up this book.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but have since bought a copy for my Kindle, since that's a format that I'm more accustom.