“Pukka: The Pup After Merle”

By Ted Kerasote. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $18.95.


How could any dog live up to Merle’s (the namesake of the best-seller “Merle’s Door”) standards? Well, Pukka, a yellow Labrador retriever, comes close, if you listen to him (which you will throughout  this upbeat diary).


Pukka, an old Hindi word meaning “genuine” or “first class,” is thrust upon this young Minnesota-born puppy as he sets up new roots in Kelly, Wyo., Kerasote’s home.


Illustrated with more than 200 color photos and narrated in Pukka’s voice this tender travelogue takes you through their early bonding process to trips to nearby Jackson Hole, Wyo., river rafting and high-country hiking and climbing, school visits and even some eye-popping meetings with imposing wildlife. And, of course, Pukka doesn’t mince words about first encounters with many of his own kind, including a scary attack by a neighbor dog upon his arrival from Minnesota.


The engaging captions, in Pukka’s voice, indelibly complement the photos and serve as a testament to the author’s storytelling skills.


Seattle readers will enjoy several pages featuring the pair’s visit here for a book signing, and Pukka’s first opportunity to be a “dog of the world,” a visit Pike Place Market (where his favorite treats were teriyaki jerky and smoked sturgeon) and meeting with a “strange animal.”


While the refreshing “Pukka” only introduces the reader to this pup’s unbridled exuberance, you get the feeling we’ll be hearing plenty more about his resilient can-do spirit and plucky curiosity in the not too distant future.