Pukka's Promise, by Ted Kerasote, author of that most excellent book,
Merle's Door and another great one,
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
I want to start off this review with my personal Thank You to Ted Kerasote.
Ted, this book is yet another example of how seriously you take the craft of
writing and how much you value your readers. Well done, sir!
Next, I want to inform review readers that the information culminating
from Ted's research on dog health and dog longevity matches with the
research I have been doing on human health and human longevity ever since I
decided never to be sick again. Despite spending most of my early years
frequently sick, I've not been sick since 1971.
So while I can heartily recommend this book as a "must read" for anyone
with a dog, I can also recommend it as a "must read" for anyone who wants to
lead a healthier, more energetic life free from obesity and other chronic
illnesses. This isn't a "diet book," but of course "you are what you eat"
and so are dogs.
In this book, Ted brings the reader along on his quest to find out how to
make dogs live longer. He begins by lamenting that dogs' lives are too soon
over. In fact, "Too Soon Over" is the title of the first chapter. He looks
at the different life spans of humans, dogs, and other animals and asks
He looks at various patterns, such as the one we see in relation to dog
sizes. Smaller breeds live longer than larger breeds. Generally, the larger
the dog the shorter it lives. Yet, whales live much longer than dogs so size
alone isn't causative. And turtles live a very long time.
Those of us who read Merle's Door remember the loving relationship
between Ted and Merle. And we were deeply saddened at Merle's passing. This
book picks up a few years after that, when Ted sees it's time to move on. He
needed another dog. We already read Pukka, but now we get the background
story. Well done, sir!
Though Merle came along by accident, this time around Ted wanted to
deliberately select a dog. One of his goals was to find a dog with a low
inbreeding factor in its heredity. This was the first step toward a
longer-lived dog. The first five chapters explore the genetic aspects of dog
In Chapter 6, Ted identifies two dogs (Casey and Abby) who would be good
parents, genetically speaking, of a pup he could take as his dog partner.
The female was a good selection also, because of the way the breeder treats
dogs. It's clear that Ted is impressed with the humans, not just the dogs.
Over the course of 23 engaging chapters, Ted looks at this and other
major risk factors. These include diet, vaccinations, and sterilization. He
also gives us an inside view of small animal rendering facilities (this
could be surprising; it was to me), animal shelters, and animal control
facilities. And, of course his fine example of training dogs is all
throughout the book.
For probably 98% of readers, what Ted explains about diet, vaccinations,
and sterilization will be surprising to say the least. But that is more a
reflection of what they don't know rather than whether Ted is right or not.
Ted gives the "why" not just the "what" and he is slow to draw conclusions.
He obtained the data and then from it drew probabilities. This is in
contrast to the more typical method of starting with a conclusion and
cherry-picking or even changing the data to fit it. Well done, sir!
As an example, let's look at Ted's view on dog food. Unlike Ted, I am a
big fan of kibble (dry food). The difference where we quibble is the type of
kibble. More about that, in a moment.
I feed my furry companion only corn-free, soy-free, wheat-free kibble. I
eat none of these grains myself, either. Ted says Pukka looks "ripped," and
at age 52, I do also (my body fat is usually under 6%). You can see my
photos at supplecity.
Like Ted, I supplement the kibble with other nutritious foods such as raw
egg (which I have been consuming since the mid-1970s). I buy the kinds of
eggs that you have to smack sharply to break, rather than the toxic eggs
produced by chickens with their beaks chopped off stacked 6 high in two foot
cages while being fed totally unsuitable grain. My eggs don't have
salmonella because the chickens who lay them aren't crapping on each other.
Ted serves Pukka raw meat, and somehow this is supposed to be bad? I
suppose I would have to side with Ted's detractors on this, given that there
are so many feral dogs roasting hot dogs over camp fires or on those little
feral dog stoves they all carry around. Just kidding. Dogs eat raw meat, no
problem. What you don't want to give them is meat that comes from one of the
big three packing houses, nor should you eat that. The worst offender here
is a feces-laden meat product called "hamburger." Don't feed that crap (it
literally is) to your kids or your pets, even if you cook it.
Now, back to kibble. Your typical kibble is corn-based, which means when
you feed this to your cat or dog, you are feeding them RoundUp. Monsanto has
denied that RoundUp persists, but independent research in Europe and the USA
has shown it does.
A major problem with RoundUp is it's a powerful neurotoxin. It's now been
confirmed that RoundUp is what is killing the bees. I personally believe
RoundUp has caused the sharp increase of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's,
bipolar disorder, ADD, and other neurological diseases. Then there's the
increased incidence of mass violence in recent years. All of the
perpetrators were on psychotic drugs, but I think the RoundUp caused the
underlying condition. I also think, because it's killing neurons, the
Roundup people are eating in their corn, soy, and wheat products is a major
contributor to the stupidity epidemic. I says "I think" because by logic the
causation is inescapably there. It just hasn't been empirically proven yet.
To protect your loved ones, whether human or quadruped, boycott all corn
and corn-based products unless you can positively identify a given product
as RoundUp free (non-GMO). The default is that it is RoundUp-contaminated,
and you'll look hard to find something that's not. The list of RoundUp
contaminated foods includes anything with corn syrup in it, including nearly
all breads and breakfast cereals. Read your labels! Don't buy kibble
containing corn. Don't buy anything containing corn.
Regarding his dog training methods, there's a concept embodied in them.
It's called respect. I personally have found that whether you're trying to
persuade a cat, dog, or human to do something respect goes a long way toward
getting your way. It's funny that the business press raved over "Who Moved
My Cheese," when Merle's Door had all the lessons they needed and yet they
never picked up on that. Pukka's Promise provides these same lessons.
The text runs 384 pages, which these days is on the long side. But the
book was so well written that it was, and I quote the title of the first
chapter, too soon over. This is followed by 49 pages of notes. And, as you
might have guessed from the page count, they are quite informative.
What's with the "Well done, sir!" in my review. Read this book, and
Since reading Merle's Door, I have been adopted by a cat who formerly
lived with a neighbor. Why she selected me, I don't know. But I'm glad she
did. I still enjoy my buddy, the Black Lab / Rottweiler mix who lives with
the neighbors whose backyard abuts my own. The cat has been frequently
spotted lying on top of the dog, napping.
The cat and I the best of friends now, and I am responsible for her care.
She does not eat Monsanto's corn. Try finding corn-free "food" in the
supermarket. Almost no grocery store will stock dog food or cat food that is
free of this toxin. Most American humans and their pets consume this poison
copiously. Read your labels, and you can change that, at least for yourself
and your pets.