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Pukka: The Pup After Merle    by Ted Kerasote order for
by Ted Kerasote
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

If you like to look at cute dog photos or great pictures of majestic scenery, Pukka is the book for you. The author, Ted Kerasote, has written several books about the outdoors as well as writing about his previous dog, Merle. When Ted was able to think about getting a new dog after Merle died, he found a female who reminded him of Merle, not only because of the way she looked, but also because of her calm temperament. He still waited another year before being ready to adopt one of her puppies, and after she had another litter and they were seven weeks old, 'he did puppy aptitude tests with us,' as Pukka explains it. These may have had a lot to do with why he picked Pukka out of the litter, but he also thought this puppy's face 'reminded him of Merle's.'

The large, colored photographs take up most of each page, with the text written from Pukka's point of view. We watch the puppy grow and learn how Ted trains him from the age of seven weeks to six months, by which time Pukka is pretty much fully grown. They live in Wyoming near Yellowstone National Park, and many of the pictures have magnificent snow-covered mountain peaks in the background. Ted has a gentle way of training Pukka, using a lot of elk jerky treats and praise, rather than punishment, and I was surprised at how effective this can be with as young a puppy as Pukka was when Ted first got him. When Pukka would have accidents in the house, for instance, Ted would scoop him up and run outside with him, saying 'outside, outside, outside,' rather than no, so the puppy learns that word as well as the proper behavior. Dogs are so anxious to please people that this type of schooling really makes sense.

The pictures and the text combine to make a delightful book. Reading the book left me wanting to run right out and get another dog or go back to Yellowstone, one or both. In the meantime, I can leaf through Pukka many times and enjoy watching this lovable puppy grow up.

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