Since the publication of the best-selling Merle’s Door, Ted Kerasote has received thousands of e-mails asking two questions: “Have you gotten another dog?” and “Are you writing a new book?” Pukka: The Pup After Merle answers both, in the most heartwarming way.
Told in Pukka’s charming voice and accompanied by more than 200 photos, Pukka: The Pup After Merle tells the story of how Ted found Pukka, recounting the early days of their bonding as they explore Kelly and the wider world. Walks become hikes and hikes become climbs, their adventures culminating in a rugged wilderness journey that teaches both Pukka and Ted something new about the dog-human partnership.
Filled with stunning images of the West, Pukka is a love story as well as Ted’s take on raising a puppy. It will do pictorially what Merle did with words—show how dogs thrive when treated as peers while illustrating the many ways that any dog opens the door to our hearts.
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Product dimensions:||6.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
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, Geo, Outside, Science, the New York Times, and more than sixty other periodicals. He lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Read an Excerpt
Some of you may remember Merle and Ted from a book he wrote about their life in Wyoming. They shared a lot of adventures, and Ted missed Merle terribly when he died.
That's why Ted didn't get another dog right away. He spent a lot of time by himself, skiing in the mountains, as he and Merle had done, while he wrote Merle's story.
Then he traveled on Merle's book tour, meeting many other dogs and their people.
One day in Minnesota, he met my mom, Abby, and she reminded him of Merle. She was calm and even looked like Merle.
She had a litter of three-day-old pups, but Ted couldn't take one home with him because he was going to be traveling on Merle's book tour for a long time.
He never forgot my mom, though, and a year later she had another litter with my dad, Taylor.
My dad lives in Minnesota, too, and he and my mom knew each other, and liked each other a lot, before they had pups together.
A day after I was born, Ted flew to Minnesota and saw me. I couldn't see him, though, because my eyes were still closed.
I guess he liked me and my brothers and sisters, because seven weeks later, there he was again, seeing us all grown up and ready for our new homes.
He did puppy aptitude tests with us.
And I was his favorite out of the litter. He thought that I was athletic ...
and calm ...
He also said that he liked me because my face reminded him of Merle's.
After a while I got tired of puppy aptitude testing. It was a lot of work and not much play. So I showed Ted what I thought of all his notes!
He didn't mind. We hit it off, and he asked me if I wanted to come to Wyoming with him.
I wasn't sure where Wyoming was, or even what it was, but Ted smelled good, had a nice voice, and that elk jerky he gave me — mmm-mmmmmm. If elk jerky came from Wyoming, I was ready to go.
I wasn't happy about leaving my mom and my Uncle Casey ...
But Ted had a big soft pillow in his car just for me, and all sorts of interesting food and toys, and even a seat belt made for dogs that was just my size.
Interstate 90 went on forever — really boring! — so I caught a lot of shut-eye.
Until we got to the motel. Then I was wide awake and ready to play.
And I couldn't believe it! There was another puppy in our room, and it looked just like one of my brothers!
We stayed in Rapid City, South Dakota, and Cooke City, Montana, and I got the motel scene down pretty quickly. At night Ted kept me in a little crate next to his bed, and all I had to do was whine, "I have to go. Right now, quick!" and up he'd jump — and out we'd run — so I could pee on the grass instead of in our room.
I think we were in Rapid City when Ted said, "You are quite the pukka dog. Do you know that?"
He told me that it was an old Hindi word that meant "genuine" or "first class," and it sounded like the puck used in hockey. He liked the word, he said, because he knew — after only three days — that I was both a genuine and first-class pup.
"What do you think of that name?" he asked me. "Will Pukka work for you?"
"Sounds good to me," I said, and closed my eyes.
The next day we went over a high pass in Wyoming and I saw my first snow. Ted seemed pretty excited about snow, but I wasn't so sure about it. It was cold on my paws!
From there we went down into Yellowstone National Park, where I smelled my first bison poop — now that was exciting!
Soon I got to see the bison themselves. They're huge, and I was glad to be in Ted's arms.
I also got to smell wolves. They're big dogs, and when I heard them howl it gave me the shivers.
I saw a moose,
and a black bear, who I thought was a big black dog until it came close to us.
Finally we saw a grizzly bear. It was a ways off ...
When it came closer, I was happy to be in the car.
As we drove into Kelly the next day — that's where Merle and Ted lived, and it's now where I live — we saw a herd of elk right behind the house. Ted said this was a good omen, since he thought I'd probably like elk a lot.
By then I was really tired of the car and glad to get out of it — what a long way it is from Minnesota to Wyoming!
Right away some of Ted's friends came by to say hi. Bailey was first. She's a famous grouse hunter.
Next I met Goo, an English Setter, and A.J., a yellow Labrador Retriever like me. A.J. lives across the field and comes over to visit with Ted every day. He's almost like Ted's dog, and I thought he was going to be my best friend, too. But was I ever wrong!
We put our things away and walked over to Tessa and Eliza's house. Merle used to babysit Tessa when she was a little girl, but now Tessa's a teenager, and I guess Eliza is too, and they puppysit me.
Their dog's named Buck, and I really liked him. After one sniff, I thought, "Now here's a dog I can learn something from."
The next morning Ted went back to work because he was trying to finish a book, and I figured I'd better help him.
I found out, though, that it's not very exciting looking at a computer screen. I started playing with the mouse and following the cursor around. That's when Ted gave me my first elk bone. Okay — that bone was worth all the time I spent in the car!
I was happily eating my bone when A.J. came through Merle's door, as he'd been doing for a couple of years. I was so excited to see him — my first visitor! But A.J. saw my bone, and he saw me in Ted's office, and he was so jealous that a new dog was in Ted's life that he bit me in the head. I screamed and peed, and there was a lot of blood.
Ted picked me up in his arms and carried me around the house — after getting rid of A.J. — and said that I was a brave dog. He got me cleaned up and took me to Merle's old vet, Theo Schuff, who said my eye would be fine, if Ted took care of it.
He did — every day — talking to me softly and making my eye feel better with hot compresses.
I was still pretty shook up, so Ted took me to the Kelly post office, where I met some nice girls who played with me. I was a lot happier.
Then he took me for walks where there weren't any big dogs, and I could feel safe. When I got tired, he carried me in his arms, telling me how sorry he was that he hadn't been able to stop A.J. from biting me.
I gave him a kiss. It hadn't been his fault.
Ted also made sure I got lots of kisses from everyone we met, which made me feel really good.
And in a couple of days I was back to my old form, playing hard and thinking of how I would get even with A.J. someday!
In the meantime, I started to meet lots of puppies, because Ted says that young dogs should meet other dogs their own age so they can play together.
One of my favorite new friends was Jasper, an Australian Shepherd. We could play for hours.
Did we ever go at it! Playing like this is important for puppies because it teaches you how hard you can bite before your friends stop playing with you. I also visited the Kelly School and even though the first-graders pulled my ears and tugged at my tail, I wasn't scared.
My family in Minnesota had two children, and they had friends, so I met lots of kids from the time I was a tiny pup.
The next thing I learned was how to walk on a leash so I could go into Jackson, where there are lots of cars. I even brought the leash to Ted and figured out how to walk on it right away.
As soon as I tugged, Ted didn't. Soon I stopped tugging. But Merle had it right. Who wants to wear a collar all the time? It itches!
We went to the bank, the pet store, the kayak store, the café, and the bookstore. These were fun, but the most fun was stopping at the Kelly post office to get the mail.
Some of Ted's friends, who had heard that he had a new dog, sent me packages, and Kathy the postmistress let me open them all by myself.
I loved showing off my new toys to everyone outside the post office, like Heather, who runs the café next door.
Ted and I also went to lots of parties during my first weeks in Wyoming — even big cocktail parties.
I was really good. I didn't jump on anyone and didn't pee on the rugs, but went outside as I'd been learning to do.
Like Ted says, though, "Life's not one endless party, Pukka. There are chores to get done around here."
First Ted did the irrigation, and of course I helped. Chewing on those hoses made my teeth feel good, and it didn't seem like a chore at all.
When we turned on the hose, what a surprise! I found out that water isn't solid. But it's still fun to chase.
Not long after we got done with the irrigation, Thekla came by with her horses Max and Jura.
I liked them a lot. Horses are as big as moose, but they're friendly — at least hers are.
The best part of meeting Max and Jura was that I got to play in the mud and become a really dirty dog for a change.
I needed a shower after that, which was no problem. I love getting in the shower with Ted. It's warm!
The next day we drove over to Idaho and I met June Bug, an expert retriever who showed me how to do it.
I could retrieve in just a little bit, but I think Merle was right: It gets boring after about four times.
We also went canoeing on the Snake River between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks so I could get used to water. First we had to put together the canoe, and I helped while wearing my new life preserver.
Since I'd already learned that water isn't solid, I made sure not to jump out.
On the lake shore where we landed, I met another puppy, a blue Heeler named Riley. I had a much better time playing with him than canoeing!
Each morning I went to school, and I still do. School isn't that bad, because when I get something right — like sitting, lying down, staying, or coming — I get a salmon treat.
And every few days Ted weighs me so he can give me the right amount of food. He wants me to grow, but not too fast. "We don't want you to have joint problems later on, Pukka," he tells me.
I give him a lick and say, "Just put more food in my bowl."
The hardest part of my life is when I get done eating and I have to watch Ted cook his own breakfast.
I don't understand why dogs have to stay out of the kitchen. That's where the best smells are! But that's one of the rules here. Sigh.
After breakfast we often walk around Kelly and stop by Buck's house to see if he wants to go with us. He always wants to go, and I follow him, smelling everywhere he smells.
And if something scares me, he says, "Now don't you worry, Pukka. I can take care of everything."
We often see Boone, who knew Merle when they were both young. She's very old now and can't hear at all, but she can still smell perfectly.
When we get back to our house, I like to lie by Merle's aspen tree, where he spent his last days, and when Ted sees me there he gets a faraway look in his eye.
I also learned how to go in and out of our house using Merle's door. It was a snap. Then one day we went over to Ted and Merle's old trailer so Ted could show me where he and Merle began, and I used Merle's door there, too.
I went back and forth — it was a lot of fun, smelling Merle and Gray Cat and their friends — and Ted got that faraway look in his eye again, for no reason that I could understand.
Soon I could pee and poop outside all by myself.
Though when it was raining I sometimes made a mistake and did it in the house. Ted would pick me up and rush me outside, crying, "Outside! Outside!"
Sigh. Peeing in the rain isn't my favorite thing. It's so wet and yucky!
Even colder is snow — it can snow in Jackson Hole in June! We built fires, and let me tell you: After you have to pee outside in the cold, there's nothing better than relaxing in front of the wood stove.
What a surprise it was for Ted, though, when one night I decided not to come up to our bedroom.
"Are you going to sleep here in the living room?" he asked.
I was by the fire and gave a big stretch. "Yep," I said. "It's too comfortable to move."
"Suit yourself," he said, and after saying good night, he went up to our bedroom by himself.
I didn't go up until the next morning, and then I gave Ted another surprise, because I was watching him as he woke up.
"Good morning, Pukka," he said. "You seem to have things well under control."
"I do," I told him. "Merle wasn't the only freethinking dog, you know."
In three weeks my eye was much better, though I think I might always have a scar. That's okay. It'll remind me that a dog has to be careful, and life's not perfect.
But Ted thinks I'm perfect, which is one of the things I like about him. He's always saying, "You're the perfect puppy!" and "You're the best!" That's when I run to him as fast as I can.
He even thinks I'm perfect after I shred paper in his office ...
And chew his shoes, which smell so good! He'll say, "Please give me that shoe, Pukka." And I do because lots of times he gives me something else that I really like — one of the elk bones we keep in the freezer. I have a lot of chew toys, but there is nothing better than a real bone!
The other thing I like about living with Ted is that he lets me decide things for myself — not everything, but lots of things. For instance, after I could hold my pee all night, he put a big round bed next to my crate and said, "Your choice, Pukka."
I went into the crate and gave it another try, but I preferred the bed since I could see all around me. I like that — a view — since a dog needs to keep track of things, even at night. So the bed it was and still is! Soon I had my old confidence back. I had walked around Kelly, Jackson, and even the big city of Idaho Falls, meeting dozens of dogs and all sorts of people. I even taught Bruce, who can be a tough guy, how to walk politely on a leash.
That A.J., though! What a grouch! He wouldn't stop being mean to me. No matter how much I tried to be friends with him, he'd growl at me, pin his ears back, and keep his tail straight up in the air.
I might have given up, but I didn't. Since we lived just across the field from each other, we were going to have to be neighbors. Every day, I'd go over to play ball with him and the other dogs and Eric, their person. He's a great ball thrower.
I wish you could have seen A.J.'s face on the day I stole his ball from under his nose. He looked up at Ted, who was standing nearby, and said, "Didn't I beat up this little monster a few weeks ago? Do something! Get my ball back!"
"Sorry, A.J.," Ted told him. "You have to share — both the ball and me."
On many days people stop by our house to visit Merle's grave under the prayer flags. He was a really famous dog, and they leave flowers and note cards and little gold elk on top of where he's buried.
I go out to say hello to them, and I've gotten to meet people from all over the world. Many of them tell me, "Pukka, you've got some big paws to fill." But I'm not worried. Merle followed his nose, and I'll follow mine.
All these visits and school and walks tucker me out. I'm still a growing puppy and need lots of sleep. But after a little nap I'm ready to go again.
Hunting flies ...
Watching deer from the dedicated quadruped couch ...
Running through the arrowleaf balsam root ...
Visiting Eliza ...
Learning to retrieve, which is actually more fun than I thought it would be — at least for about six times ...
Running with the other Kelly dogs ...
And playing with Merle's prayer flags when they blow down in the wind. I can't decide which is more fun: shredding paper or chasing Merle's flags or playing with other dogs. Since I get to do all three, who cares!
Ted says it's hard to believe I've grown so big in just one month and have learned so much. I guess I am bigger. But I'm still a puppy, with lots to learn.
One of the most important things we've worked on during our second month together is having a gentle mouth. If I bite too hard, Ted will yell, "Ouch! That hurts!"
I got the idea pretty quickly — no hard biting — and he can now put his fingers, or even his nose, in my mouth and say, "Gentle, Pukka, gentle," and I'll just give him a little squeeze.
Another lesson I've learned is to help carry kindling into the house. But this doesn't seem like a lesson at all, because I love carrying sticks! It's even more fun when I get to put the kindling into the stove myself and then watch Ted light the fire.
Once the fire's going, it's time to dance. "What'll it be this morning, Pukka?" Ted asks me. "That's easy," I tell him. "Something bluegrass."
And off we go. Within a few weeks I could dance forward and backward, do turns, and zip through Ted's legs.
Of course, there are many harder things to learn. "Leave it" is the very hardest, especially when I'm starving and Ted has just filled my bowl with food.
But he says that learning "leave it" will stand me in good stead when I pick up something bad for me and he calls out, "Leave it!"
My other hard lesson is "wait." Ted makes it even harder by hiding around a corner of the hallway so I can't see him. I'm getting better at it, though.
"Thirty whole seconds," Ted says happily. "What a champ you are!" I don't know exactly how long thirty seconds is, but I tell you, it's a long time.
Excerpted from "Pukka"
Copyright © 2010 Ted Kerasote.
Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
About the Photographs,
About the Author,
What People are Saying About This
"Speaking as Pukka and illustrating the sparse text with stunning color photographs on every page, Kerasote has created a pictorial diary of the first six months of the dog's life. But this book is much more than a record of the growth and training of a pup, it is a visual record of the development of human-animal bond as well as a breathtakingly beautiful tour of the West."Library Journal
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Pukka's baby pictures are adorable. I'm so glad Ted shared them with us. The more great dog books the better to raise awareness about the species.
This is an excellent book about the dog after Merle. Note that it is a book of pictures of the new dog, with the 'dog' explaining the various situations. It covers puppyhood to about 1 year old.
Excellent book--If you enjoyed Merles story you will enjoy this book and the illustrations are beautiful
This is a wonderful follow-up to "Merle's Door".In a nice touch,Ted Kerasote delightfully tells Pukka's life story through his eyes.Add that to the gorgeous photos,and the reuslt is an absolute charmer that will delight everyone.
Merle's Door is one of the best dog books written. It's a wonderful story for those who really love their dogs and want them to develop their full potential. I bought more than 10 copies for myself and gifts for friends. Now comes the follow up and Pukka is a disappointment. Don't know what I was expecting but this book is a collection of cute photos and that's about it. Read the book in one short sitting and when finished I sort of felt cheated. Was expecting so much more.