February 07, 2011 08:00 PM

When I moved across the country a few years ago and left my parents with an empty nest, my father vowed that he would get a puppy. I’m convinced that Dad’s dream dog, which he wants to name “Lucky,” would look and act exactly like the adorable yellow Labrador retriever featured in Ted Kerasote’s book Pukka: The Pup after Merle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Kerasote chronicles the life he built with his new puppy after his beloved Labrador mix died in 2004. His previous book, Merle’s Door, portrayed the 13-year relationship he shared with his last pet and became a bestseller. With Pukka (pronounced like the puck used in hockey), the nature writer begins another special human-animal partnership that not only takes them deep into the rugged West, but also tugs at every heart that has ever grappled with healing and moving on after loss.

Told through the voice of Pukka, the book is a photo essay featuring more than 200 beautiful images, mostly taken by Kerasote. Newborn Pukka is mesmerizingly cute, and as he grows up, his resemblance to Merle often inspires a “faraway look” in Kerasote’s eyes.

Pukka, which means “genuine” or “first-class” in Hindi, can be a mischievous little thing. He likes chewing on toilet paper and thinks about how to get even with AJ, a neighborhood Labrador who’s jealous of him. But with Kerasote’s patient training (and illustrated techniques), Pukka develops into a well-behaved canine, wise to the ways of the world. Running into big moose? No thank you. Hiking onto cliff tops? Yes, please!

By the end of this engaging, heartwarming tale, Pukka’s bond with Kerasote is mutually enlightening. “I feel like Ted and I are a team,” says the pup. “He shows me things I haven’t seen; I show him things he can’t hear or smell.”

Pukka will surely gain a lot of fans with this book – including, I’d imagine, my dad. Who knows – maybe after he reads it, I’ll start hearing about his new companion “Lucky … the pup after Pearl.”

Read about more dog books on PEOPLEPets.com:
How Oogy, a Former Bait Dog, Found Love Outside the Fighting Ring
Stunning Photo Book ‘Dogs’ Finds Beauty in the Ruff

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