This is one of the best books I’ve ever read about dogs. It’s both a heart-warming story about a Lab-Redbone hound cross and wonderful piece of science and nature writing about dogs and their behavior.
Here’s the youtube interview with the author:
Merle is given freedom to socialize with other dogs and experience nature, and he develops into an intelligent, but free-thinking dog. It’s a really itneresting idea that dogs should be given some freedom to make choices in their lives. Last weekend, The National Geographic Channel carried a program about the San Franscico zoo tiger that attacked last the visitors on Christmas Day last year. The program talked a lot about new findings about carnivore husbandry. Using mink as a study species, researchers found that if mink were allowed to make choices about their environment and given mental and physical stimulation, they were healthier than those who lived in confined cages with little choices or stimulation. Studies on mink and ferrets suggest that they are more intelligent than cats and more on par with dogs and primates in intelligence. These findings are certainly applicable to other species of carnivore, especially the social ones, such as dogs. Today, most dogs live in confined spaces for days and days on end. We can only imagine how much this is hurting their mental and physical health. Perhaps we ought to ban keeping dogs (especially large dogs) in cities and suburbs, unless they are given off leash excercise several times a week. I know this is controversial, and it flies in the face of the current trend in dog ownership.