|Kerasote and Pukka|
Kerasote gives advice on nutrition and vaccination that will be familiar to pet owners who stay informed about such things. I didn't find much new in these sections and I agree with Kerasote's belief that a raw diet is best (though I feed a high quality kibble). Some of his suggestions are a bit of base for most pet owners, he is able to feed Pukka elk he hunts himself, but over all any pet owner can make some of the changes he suggests, such as using filtered water and feeding high quality meat protein sources. I also enjoyed the section on finding non-toxic toys and cleaners, I've vowed to switch to vinegar and Seventh Generation products for cleaning once I exhaust my current supply of cleaners.
The most controversial part of the book is probably Kerasote's stance on spaying and neutering, he is against it. I am actually somewhat in sympathy with his views and I do wish more vets new how to do vasectomies. I personally like to wait a year to alter my male dogs and if I got a large breed I might wait longer or forgo neutering all together due to the link to cancer. However, I am not sure this decision is as easy as Kerasote makes it out to be, particularly for urban and suburban owners who want to take their dogs to dog parks and doggie day cares. Also Kerasote's decision to let Pukka wander when not altered troubles me, he says he knows all the dogs in his area but what if someone with an unaltered female was visiting? I don't doubt that Pukka is healthy enough to be bred and indeed may be a very worthy dog for breeding, but that should involve the search for the right female dog and not be the product of chance.
Unsurprisingly Kerasote has some harsh words for the state of modern dog breeds, though he does go to a breeder for his dog and is not at all opposed to responsible breeding. Kerasote has a definite idea of the sort of dog he wants, a rangy athletic lab that calls to mind his earlier dog, Merle. I don't fault him for this since I think its best people know what sort of dog suits them and are clear about what kind of canine companion fits into their life. However, Kerasote seems to be focused on the sort of dog he wants as being the best for everyone. He is pretty critical of my favorite breeds, pugs and bulldogs, and feels that all dogs should be athletes. However, just as Kerasote wants a dog to suite his outdoorsy life style in the wilds of Wyoming, I want a dog that suits my more sedentary urban existence, and pugs and bulldogs are perfect for that. I don't really see how my decision to get a dog that matches my needs differs from his. While I agree that health should be a breeders primary objective, I think that brachycephalic breeds often bare an unfair brunt of the criticism, after all many athletic breeds suffer from high rates of cancer and other challenges, which to his credit Kerasote does discuss. I was troubled that Kerasote implies that breeders of toy brachycephalic breeds, like pugs, don't care about their health. Many pug breeders donated substantial funds to the clubs efforts to find a genetic marker for PDE. Thanks to their efforts their is now a test and I was able to get Weasley from a breeder who screens her breeding stock for this dreadful disease, if she didn't care about her dogs health I doubt she would spend the money on the tests.
However, my primary problem with Kerasote is on the subject of training. He emphasis freedom and is opposed to leashes and such. I am sure that his dogs live an ideal existence and I agree that its important to give our dogs opportunities to think for themselves, but like lots of people with strong views on a subject Kerasote is something of a zealot. He feels many owners infantalize their dogs. Even though he himself is frequently highly anthropomorphic in how he talk about his dogs, and at one low point gets angry at his neighbors dog for getting in a tussle with his puppy over a bone, an occurrence that could easily have been prevented.
The one incident in the book that really bothered me occurs when he describes an encounter with a St. Bernard on a walk. Kerasote, Pukka, and a another dog and its owner are walking off leash in a park when a young woman approaches with her St. Bernard who is straining at the leash. Based on the fact that the women looks nervous Kerasote assumes that she is transmitting her anxiety to the dog. He asks the woman to let her dog off leash to play saying he will "be fine" and when the women says she can not because he has gotten into fights with other dogs he assumes that she is mistaken and does not know her own dog. He goes so far as to say that her dog will be denied an enjoyable life. As someone who owns a dog, Bob, who can aggressive with unfamiliar dogs off leash and knows many highly dog aggressive dogs I was very angered by Kerasote's dismissive attitude towards this dog owner and his belief that he can analyze the situation from a glance. Perhaps he is a right and the dog would have been fine off leash, or perhaps Pukka could have been seriously injured and the St. Bernard's owner is being a responsible and protective owner. For someone who wants to be free to make his own decisions about his dog, Kerasote at times seems highly judgmental of the decisions made by others.
|How I wish they would live forever|