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Karen B. London

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

News: Karen B. London
The Plush Canines of Childhood
Were yours important to you?

My kids have lots of stuffed animals and many of them are dogs. It makes me feel nostalgic to see them play with the dogs, which is the second official sign that I’m old. (The first sign was that a few years ago, I began to dress hideously during the worst of the winter weather. Apparently, I had hit the point where I didn’t care what I looked like as long as I was warm.)

In a recent conversation with my sister, we reminisced about our childhood “friends,” our stuffed dogs.

Goggy, whose name was a result of a mispronunciation of “doggy,” was the first stuffed dog we acquired.

Dimples, who was all white with black spots, miraculously remained white where she was supposed to be white.

PuffPuff was named after Puff the Magic Dragon, and was incredibly soft and fluffy with a mix of white and psychedelic purple fur.

Kidenly, who looked vaguely like a Poodle and had movable legs, was named after Friendly, our aunt and uncle’s Great Dane, since their dog was sometimes called Friendly-Kidenly. Dimples, PuffPuff and Kidenly originally belonged to our Dad’s sister but were passed on to us as children.

Rusty and BlueBlue were matched in size and best friends, with both named for their coloring.

Brownie was named after the food, not the color. He was the dog I took on all trips since he was small enough to pack and big enough to be comforting.

Old Ratty was my favorite. He was so battered that he has about a dozen patches, and his nose and eyes were replaced by buttons pretty early on. He has absolutely NO plush remaining anywhere on his body. He got his name because our Dad once said with considerable alarm, “You’re not taking that ratty old thing with us, are you?” His name was simply “Ratty” until it became necessary to distinguish him from a similar toy, who took on the name New Ratty.

New Ratty shows what Old Ratty originally looked like. Our family acquired two identical dogs, but they took different paths. New Ratty was left alone, largely forgotten until he was found years later. Because he was never loved by a child, he’s still in good shape.

My sister and I loved those stuffed dogs. Most of our toys are long gone, but the stuffed dogs were too special to pitch. They remain at our parents’ house though it’s been many years since we moved out and went to college. Now they are played with by a second (or third) generation because my kids head straight for them when we visit my parents.

Did you have stuffed dogs as a child?

News: Karen B. London
Dogs on Waves
Canine surfing event in California

The list of activities we do with our dogs continues to expand. Over the weekend in Huntington Beach, Calif., the Surf City Surf Dog competition took place. If you know anyone who thinks of surfing as a sport in which only humans participate, these pictures of dogs catching waves will prove them wrong.

Dogs competed in heats lasting 30-40 minutes. Judges awarded points to the dogs for each ride, with standing on the board worth more than lying down, and riding backwards richly rewarded. Even recovering from nearly falling was a way to score extra points.

These dogs are clearly channeling their inner Gidget—to the delight of all the spectators.

News: Karen B. London
Canine Behavior Type Index
A personality test for your dog

Pet Connect offers an opportunity to learn more about your dog with a quiz that will reveal your dog’s personality. Personality types from the Canine Behavior Type Index have names such as Adventurer, Dreamer, Companion and Deputy. You can find out which category best matches your dog’s personality for free, but you have to pay a fee ($9.95 Australian) to receive the full 15-page report with details about traits, management, training and exercise information for your dog’s specific personality.

The quiz has 26 choices parts and each one asks you to choose between such phrases as:

My dog seems to be very diplomatic./My dog seems to be insensitive to others./My dog seems to shift between trying to please and being insensitive.

My dog is quite lazy./My dog is quite active.

My dog seems to be unassuming./My dog is a show off./ My dog seems to have a noble attitude.

Though I enjoyed the personality test, I didn’t take the results too seriously, or consider it overly scientific. This test claims to be the first ever, scientific dog personality test, but actually, there have been many scientific dog personality tests, some of which you can read about Psychology Professor Stanley Coren’s book, “Why Does My Dog Act That Way: A Complete Guide to Your Dog’s Personality.”

News: Karen B. London
Under the Table
Why do dogs claim this spot?

Dogs often rest under the table, and in many cases, we really don’t know why. Sure, we can think of many advantages to being under the table, but that doesn’t mean that we know which reason matters to any particular dog. Here are some possibilities, though:

They can see what’s going on, but are not likely to be stepped on by people, especially kids, running about the house.

It’s a cozy, protected space that many dogs find comforting.

It’s a great place to wait for food to fall from the sky.

It’s cooler and darker under the table than elsewhere in the house, and that’s better for napping.

The table is a place where the rest of the family spends a lot of time, so it smells familiar to dogs.

Some dogs choose this space only when they are afraid, such as during Fourth of July fireworks, or bad weather, including thunderstorms, but a lot of dogs rest there even when fear does not seem to have anything to do with it.

Do your dogs rest under the table? If so, why do you think they are doing it?

News: Karen B. London
The Dog Song [Video]
Canine cheer courtesy of music and paintings

Feeling a bit down? Need a pick-me-up? May I suggest taking a peek at this video featuring “The Dog Song” (written and performed by Emily Westman) and a series of dog paintings by Nancy Schutt?

It made me so happy that I wanted to pass it along. I’m surprised how much it lifted my mood and for how long, especially as I was feeling perfectly well before I saw it for the first time. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times since. My mood is up, but my efficiency is down. It’s a worthwhile trade.

News: Karen B. London
Coffee Shop Dog Talk
What are people saying?

I love listening to people talk, and I justify my tendency to eavesdrop in public places by reminding myself that I am a writer, and this is what writers do. I try to be discreet, and usually succeed, with the exception of one occasion years ago. I leaned back so far in my chair to make sure I did not miss the end of a thrilling story that I fell backwards, crashing onto the floor and badly blowing my cover.

Recently, I was having coffee and enjoying the conversations of the people around me. Within the span of less than an hour, I heard these six dog-related comments:

“I have to take my dog to the vet on Thursday, but I could meet before 7:45 or after 8:30.”

“I was at Jessica’s, and she has the most amazing gardens in her yard, and she had a flourishing mint patch so I took a little sprig and ate it. So then Jessica gasps and says, ‘Oh, no! Don’t eat that! My dog pees all over that!’”

“Did you see that picture of the dog by the coffin? Man, I hate this war.”

“My kids really want a puppy but I cannot take on one more thing for the next few months. Maybe after the holidays I could begin to think about it.”

“My uncle steps in dog poop all the time. I have no idea why it’s always him, but he always seems to find it. It makes my aunt super mad.”

“There’s been a stray dog by our house for days. He’s skinny, there’s no collar and I can’t catch him.”

I might have heard more, but one nearby table was filled with quiet talkers—not very considerate of them, really. What have you heard lately about dogs from the people around you, whether they were talking directly to you or not?

News: Karen B. London
Dog Eats $10,000 in Diamonds
Dog and jewelry both okay

When diamonds went missing from a jewelry store in Georgia, X-rays solved the mystery of who took them. The store owner’s dog, Honey Bun, had eaten the valuable pair of earrings when he had left his desk to help a customer. Usually, Honey Bun’s job is to greet customers rather than to attend to merchandise.

How, you may ask, were the diamonds recovered? Nature was allowed to take its course, and the diamonds saw the light of day in due time. A friend of mine once had her engagement ring take the same sort of travels through her Bernese Mountain Dog puppy’s insides. (I had the “pleasure” of being with them when the ring reappeared.)  Has this ever happened to any of your jewelry?

News: Karen B. London
Dogs in Stripes
The paintings of Kate Hoyer

“I paint dogs in stripes because it makes us look at dogs not just as animals we own but as part of our culture. Painting them in stripes echoes how integrated they have become.” So explains artist Kate Hoyer on her website.

Hoyer has been painting in stripes for almost 30 years, but originally she employed this style for abstract work. Later, she decided that she wanted to combine what stripes offer as a design element with realistic subjects.

The result of this combination of richly colored stripes with recognizable forms is a striking body of work, with dogs being her most recent subject matter. My art education is limited, but I know dogs, and what I see in Hoyer’s paintings are dogs whose expressions and emotions feel real with the vibrancy and honesty that’s always sought, but less often achieved, in art.

News: Karen B. London
Man Saves Dogs With Lasso
They were trapped in a canal

Some skills are like riding a bicycle and never fade away. Those hard-won skills sometimes prove useful in unexpected ways years later. Take Jesus Villanueva, who learned to lasso in Jalisco, Mexico when he worked on a cattle ranch. It had been 30 years since he had roped an animal, but when he had the opportunity to save two dogs being swept away in a canal in Yakima County, Wash., he lassoed each dog on his first try and was able to pull them to safety.

Noya and Matt Deats’ dogs, Nia and Fawn, were at risk of drowning in a canal with fast flowing water and steep concrete sides. Noya had already run a long way along the canal trying to keep up with her dogs when she called her husband at work to come help, too. She also called the police. A sheriff’s deputy’s attempts to rope the dogs were not successful, and that’s when Villanueva, working nearby, heard the commotion and put his lasso skills to use. As they say: “Education is never a waste.”

News: Karen B. London
Fallen Navy SEAL’s Dog Lies By Coffin
Image moves many people

Navy SEAL Jon Tumlinson died in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. After leading the family into the gym where the funeral was held, his dog Hawkeye stayed by the coffin. Jon’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton, took a photograph of Hawkeye lying by Tumlinson’s coffin, and this stirring image has attracted attention worldwide.

Among the many people moved by this photograph was Jon Lazar, who played football for the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 1970s. Lazar has suggested to the Iowa football team that Hawkeye lead the team onto the field at a game this season as a way to honor Tumlinson, who is a native of Iowa. Lazar envisions the announcer telling the story about this dog’s actions at the funeral, which he thinks would bring the crowd to tears. (I think the idea is beautiful, but I am in favor of carrying it out only if Hawkeye would not be stressed by being in that situation. Some dogs can handle such crowds and noise, but many can’t.)

Though Hawkeye no doubt misses his lost friend, he does have a loving home. Tumlinson’s friend Scott Nichols is Hawkeye’s new guardian.

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