Friday, October 22, 2010

A Conversation with Ted Kerasote, author of Pukka: The Pup After Merle

Ted Kerasote is the author of several books; most notably Merle's Door and Out There. His most recent title is Pukka: The Pup After Merle. He is featured here today, courtesy of Anna from FSB Media. Read on to find out more about Pukka, as well as Ted's fall book tour schedule. If you are in the area during any of the tour stops, go see him, and get some books signed. For more information about Ted and all of his books, visit his website here.

A Conversation with Ted Kerasote

How long was it after Merle died before you felt ready to welcome a new dog into your life?

It took almost five years to get over Merle’s death and feel that my heart was at last open enough to embrace a new dog.

What drew you to Pukka?

I searched long and hard to find a dog that had some of Merle’s characteristics or, more generally, the characteristics I wanted in a dog when I met Merle: Someone who was very athletic; who could navigate deep snow; who could swim big rivers; who could camp out with me in any landscape. I also wanted a dog who, though active, could be laid-back in the house; who was affectionate; and who also had that certain reddish-golden tinge to his fur that reminds me of fall, of September light.

What does “Pukka” mean, and why did it seem like the right name for your new dog?

“Pukka” means first class or genuine in Hindi, and it seemed like a good name for the pup I met in Minnesota. He immediately took to traveling in the car; he knew how to use rest stops; he climbed the stairs in the motel with no problem and wasn’t afraid of children, swimming pools, and traffic. Plus he was a snuggler and affectionate.

What was it like to write the book from Pukka’s point of view?

I didn’t really write the book from Pukka’s point of view. As was the case in Merle’s Door, I watched my dog, I spoke with him, and I translated what he was telling me. It really is Pukka’s book.

How would you explain your philosophy of raising a puppy?

A lot of puppy-training manuals are all about confining the pup: to a crate so as to house-train it; to your own waist via a tether; to a playpen so it can’t get into mischief. But people have been raising puppies for about sixteen thousand years without these devices. Pukka had the run of the house and, yes, made a few mistakes about peeing and pooping. Did these turn into lifelong problems? Hardly. I picked him up midstream and said, “Outside.” He soon got it and has made no mistakes since he was a wee little fellow. I solved his teething problems by spraying furniture legs with a solution called bitter apple. Dogs don’t like the taste. He also had plenty of real bones to chew on. At the same time, pups, like children, need to learn manners—sitting, not bothering people, coming when called. But if these are made fun, and there’s some elk jerky and praise when it’s done right, the pup soon learns. My attitude is not to get too bent out of shape, and you and your puppy will be happier for it.

What have you and Pukka learned from each other?

I learned that one of the things I liked doing—running rivers—was not a great idea for a young, active pup. He wanted to be moving, to be roaming, and being confined to a raft was so borrrrrrrrrring! Pukka has learned from me that just because other dogs can do certain things—bark at the UPS man, for instance—that doesn’t mean he can. This has been a point of contention between us, he saying, “Why can’t I bark? All my friends are barking!” People who wring their hands over the company their children keep will understand this very well.

Goodreads Summary:
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.

Pukka’s Fall Book Tour

Wed, Oct 27, 7 pm Teton County Library Jackson WY

Sun, Oct 31, 1 pm Costco, Littleton CO

Mon, Nov 1, 7:30 pm Boulder Bookstore Boulder CO

Tues, Nov 2, 7:00 pm Book People Austin TX

Wed, Nov 3, 7:30 pm Library/Elm Street Books New Canaan CT

Thurs, Nov 4, 7:00 pm Porter Square Books Cambridge MA

Fri, Nov 5, 7:00 pm Barnes & Noble Princeton NJ

Sun, Nov 7, 2:00 pm Book Passage Corte Madera CA

Mon, Nov 8, 7:00 pm Barnes & Noble Emeryville CA

Tues, Nov 9, 7:00 pm Rakestraw Books Danville CA

Wed, Nov 10, 7:30 pm Barnes & Noble Seattle WA

University Village

Thurs, Nov 11, 7:30 pm Powell’s on Hawthorne Portland OR

Mon, Nov 15, 6:30 pm Kansas City Library/Rainy Day Books Kansas City MO

Thank you for being here today, Ted. (Thank you Anna for allowing me to post this conversation for you!) What a great interview. I loved it, though I will say that I've met dogs who love the taste of bitter apple spray! (Surprising, I know!) 
I hope Pukka does well for you, and that you have an amazing book tour. Pukka sure is a cutie!

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