Those people who are often called ‘dog people’ know what its like to find just the right new puppy who grows up to be the best dog ever. Dog people think of their pets as their best friend, someone who loves unconditionally and someone who is always there for them in good times and in bad.
The hardest part of owning a dog is when the dog reaches end of life and starts to suffer and eventually pass away. And, as any true dog lover will testify, end of life for their best canine friend comes way too soon, most times death comes within12 to 15 years.
A new book, Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-lived Dogs by Ted Kerasote, offers some insight into why some breeds live longer than others, how diet and exercise can play a role and how purebreds are documented to experience more genetic diseases and health problems than mixed breeds.
Kerasote has written a few other books, including a bestseller about losing his dog, Merle. This book picks up a few years after losing his best friend. He starts the book with, “When Merle the dog of my heart was dying, he rallied one morning, going on his own to take a pee. The sun had just risen; robins sang; geese called from the river. The snowy Tetons stood pink in the clear May sky.”
A page or two later in the introduction to the book, he writes, “I looked back to Merle, grinning at me from he truck. Like everyone’s dog, he had been all that and more, and I thought: Why do they die so young?”
He tells readers that after his book about Merle was published, he started receiving many emails asking why dogs do die so young or why dogs get so many diseases. Those emails and questions like those prompted Kerasote to write his latest book.
Enveloped in the story is his looking for and finding a new dog four years after losing Merle. He names his new puppy Pukka. Through his prolonged search for a new dog, the author explores topics such as nutrition, vaccinations, shelters and sanctuaries, spay and neutering, purebreds versus mixed breeds, and a slew of other topics related to the dog world.
Kerasote found six common factors amongst all of the emails he received including: inbreeding, nutrition, environmental pollutants, vaccination, spaying and neutering, and the shelter system where for so many dogs is the place they spend the last days of their lives.
Some of his research led to some interesting facts such as bigger mammals living longer than smaller mammals. A few exceptions include smaller dogs living longer than bigger dogs, and humans who are smaller than many mammals living the longest after the whale.
The author also takes the reader through the process of rendering, starting in the chapter on the ingredients found in dog food.
“Wanting to get to the bottom of the issue and discover what really goes into the rendered products that so many of our dogs eat, I began by calling the National Renderers Association, where a high-placed official told me that to his knowledge no plant in the United States currently rendered dogs and cats into pet food,” Kerasote wrote.
Those who have loved and lost a family pet will find parts of the book hard to read without shedding a tear or two, especially the first few pages. The book is well written and uses the author’s true-life story to expand on valuable canine-related topics. The book covers a few new topics some dog owners may not have heard about such as the rendering process.
I highly recommend Pukka’s Promise for every dog or any type of pet owner or those thinking of becoming a pet owner. It offers a lot of good information that those in search of their next best friend will find useful.