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Book Review of: Pukka's Promise
The Quest for Longer-lived Dogs
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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)
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 "Why?"
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 breeds.
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 you'll know.
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.