In Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), Ted Kerasote provides a far-ranging investigation of what we know about canine breeding, nutrition, vaccination, sterilization, and life span. Woven through this hefty book of 452 pages are accounts of his finding a Lab puppy which he names Pukka (pronounced Puck'a, from the Hindi for First Class) and the methods he used to train him as the other member of his household.
Anyone with a dog or contemplating getting a dog will find much of interest here. Kerasote explodes the practice of annual vaccinations, provides alarming information about feeding kibble, and reveals that vets continue to spay and neuter--instead of doing tubal ligations and vasectomies--because those are the operations they were taught to do in vet school. And he obligingly provides notes so that his readers can follow up and come to their own conclusions.
The one drawback to this informative book concerns Kerasote's conversations with Pukka. Show me someone who doesn't talk to her or his dog, and I'll show you a dreary person indeed. The problem is that Kerasote also supplies Pukka's half of the conversations, and I find this truly cringe-inducing. Given that one side of these verbal exchanges is fictional, the old advice for fiction writers remains valid here: show, don't tell.
That aside, Ted Kerasote's Pukka's Promise is well researched, engagingly written, and thought-provoking.