Tag Archives: anthropomorphism

Pukka’s Promise

Pukka's Promise coverIf I had to choose a byline for this book review, it would be ‘Ted Does It Again.”

Author Ted Kerasote has delivered another great dog book following the success of Merle’s Door which I have previously reviewed.

This book, inspired in part by the large volume of correspondence Ted received after releasing Merle’s story, documents Ted’s extensive research into the health of dogs and the factors that may determine longevity.   So many ‘dog people’ contacted Kerasote asking variations of the same question  – ‘why don’t our dogs live longer?’  And since Ted felt the same way, he did what any professional journalist would do – he asked lots of questions.

In Pukka’s Promise -The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs, Ted tackles subjects including nutrition, the politics behind the pet food industry, and what diet is right for dogs.  Ted lays out the facts about raw food and commercial diets, the concerns about grains  and whether they are appropriate for dogs and a favourite topic of mine – variety in the diet.

Because Kerasote observes his dog so well, he realises that there are times when Pukka (pronounced PUCK-ah) rejects the food that is laid before him.  Pukka lets Ted know that he prefers something else one day when he follows him into the pantry.  Having rejected raw lamb, Pukka readily accepts some dried elk chips.  Ted then listens more often to what Pukka would like for his meals noting, “Today I do not want sardines, I want chicken.  Yes, I do love elk, but this evening I prefer dried elk.”

And just as he did in Merle’s Door, this communication between Kerasote and Pukka is not contrived nor do these moments come across as a story book type of anthropomorphism.  Kerasote is a keen observer and dog aficionado.  When he listens or hears Pukka, it’s because he understands what his dog is trying to tell him and translates it into words.  Few authors could achieve this in such a natural way.

An example of the communication between Ted and Pukka comes when Ted is frustrated by Pukka’s excessive barking.  Dog trainers should be prepared that Ted’s solution doesn’t come from clicker training or positive reinforcement, although Ted tries these things.  Ted’s solution is a direct result of understanding dog behaviour and putting that knowledge to good use.  It helps that Ted can communicate in dog.   Enough said; you’ll have to read the book for the ending of this tale.

Kerasote covers a range of health topics including vaccinations, the history of the ‘annual vaccination’ recommendation, and the latest research on why over-vaccinating is a concern.  A good message to take away from reading the book is to enquire with your vet about having your dog ‘titered’ to determine the amount of immunity they still have from previous vaccinations.

Still other issues that are tackled in a thorough way are the effects of neutering and alternatives to the traditional spay/neuter operation that may help our dogs retain the health-preserving effects of their natural sex hormones.  Kerasote also questions the spay/neuter philosophy in a constructive way and whether you agree with his conclusions or not, he does lay out the facts very well.

Another topic that I hold dear is the issue of cancer and the simple message – if you find a lump on your dog, don’t let anyone (including your vet) tell you to ‘wait and see.’  Some lumps, if caught early and tested, can be removed before the disease takes over the comparatively small body of a dog.  Take heed!

As a backdrop to the book’s hard facts, we also get to enjoy a wonderful story about Ted’s search for another dog and his choice of Pukka.  Once Pukka’s is on the scene, we share some of their adventures.

My only criticism of this book is its lack of photos.  Other than the cover photo of Pukka, we don’t get to enjoy any photos of Pukka, Ted, or their other dog friends (A.J., Burley and Goo) nor any of the great scenery from Ted’s camping and hunting trips with Pukka.  I don’t think photos would have detracted from the contents and scope of the book, but I guess that’s the publisher’s decision.

With 49 pages of references, this is a thoroughly researched book that took five years to complete.  Add it to your book collection and refer back to it as the basis for a conversation with your vet (your dog will love you for it).

Well done, Ted!  What are you cooking up for us next?

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Losing a father

I have often felt that Daisy and I have a lot in common.  She likes purple (in fact, her collar is purple) and so do I.  She likes ice cream and so do I.  She’s  eats red meat – and guess what? – so do I.

Today, however, we have now another thing in common.  We have both lost our fathers.

The phone call came through this evening.  Shaka was ill this morning and with very low blood pressure.  The vet thinks he may have had a tumour that finally overwhelmed his system and she said that he wouldn’t recover.  There was really no choice but to put him to sleep.

When I told Daisy about it, she went out in the yard and wouldn’t come in for a while.  This was most unusual for her, particularly because it had started to rain and she doesn’t like getting wet.   I think she understood but some people will say I am anthropomorphising her behaviour.    All I know is that I was upset and, usually, if I am upset then Daisy wants to be at my side.  This time, I think she needed some time to herself.

I am grateful that Daisy only saw her Dad two days ago; he was a kennel dog and she was in kennels thanks to a business trip.   As it turned out, it was their last chance to play together.  I am also grateful that for the better part of the last three years, Daisy was able to visit Shaka every week for day care.  Her day care arrangements ceased earlier this year when her day care provider moved farther out of town.  Still, she and Shaka saw each other whenever Daisy needed a kennel stay or when I massaged another dog at the kennels.

Shaka was a ‘cool dude’ and I’m certain that Daisy inherited her placid nature from him.

Here are photos taken in 2007, at Daisy’s seventh birthday party.   We both think he was a very handsome and distinguished dog.

Shaka won best dressed at Daisy’s birthday party in 2007 with this tuxedo.

Daisy and her Dad in a family photo, taken at her 7th birthday party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand