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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.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Book Recommendations For All
What titles do you pass on to friends?

My sister recently requested a few suggestions for dog books to read because this month, the theme for her book club is pets.

  Her book club has the world’s coolest system for choosing what to read. You can sum up their strategy with the phrase, “Every woman for herself!” because each member chooses a different book to read. Choices are organized around themes, such as banned books, band books, magic, rituals, comics, award-winning books, oceans, travel, vampire sex, holidays, movies and books with red covers. Occasionally, more than one person reads the same book, but that is only if they happen to choose the same one by accident.   This book club has been running for years, with part of that staying power likely stemming from their unusual system of book selection. With my sister’s taste in mind, I recommended three books to consider for “pet month.”  
  • All My Patients Have Tales: Favorite Stories from a Vet’s Practice by Jeff Wells
  • Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search and Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson
  • Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs by Caroline Knapp (You can read an excerpt published in Bark, summer 1998)
These books were the first ones I thought of, so this is not by any means a comprehensive list. These three came to mind because they are great books whether you are an animal lover or not. My sister likes dogs, but she is not a “dog person” the way you and I are. These books are great for dog lovers, but their appeal extends far beyond people like us. They are great stories and beautifully written.   What books would you recommend from the dog world to people who may not be as immersed in it as we are?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dolphins Save Dog From Drowning
Doberman exhausted but safe

An 11-year old Doberman named Turbo escaped from his yard and was missing for 15 hours, much of which he may have spent struggling not to drown in a canal near his home in Marco Island, Fla. During his absence, his family searched for him throughout the streets near their home, but never thought to check in the water.

  Turbo owes his life to two dolphins that apparently stayed with him in the canal and assisted him. The dolphins’ splashing and thrashing made so much noise that a neighbor on his boat was alerted and spotted the dog, who was clearly struggling. The man called 911 and his wife jumped in to the canal to assist the dog. When firefighters arrived, they pulled the dog to safety.   Turbo is absolutely fine, though he was exhausted from his ordeal. Once Turbo was safely out of the water, the dolphins swam away. Dolphins are well known for their habits of being helpers at sea. Many people have been prevented from drowning by dolphins, and now Turbo has joined that club, too.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Jamie Wyeth Dog Portrait Up for Auction
Artist marked his own dog

Artist Jamie Wyeth created many paintings of his Yellow Lab Kleberg with a circular marking around one eye. One of them is called “Study of Kleberg” and will be up for auction at Christie’s in New York City next week. It is expected to go for $40,000 to $60,000, which is quite a chunk of change for a painting that was done as one of a series of studies for a larger painting of the subject.

  Wyeth, who paints animals as well as people and landscapes, once spontaneously painted a circle around Kleberg’s eye when the dog approached his easel while he was working. He liked the look, which reminded him of Pete the Pup from The Little Rascals, and maintained this mark on his dog for the rest of Kleberg’s life, which inspired many paintings. He found that moustache dye was better than paint because it lasted longer, though it still required monthly touching up.   I’m sure Wyeth has been criticized for doing this to his dog, but there is no denying that the resulting paintings are charming.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Carrying Bags of Poop Makes People Friendly
It identifies those who follow the rules

Recently, I noticed that the people I see when I am running or walking with a dog are paying attention to something unexpected. They REALLY notice whether I am carrying a bag of poop or not. When the dog has yet to make a deposit, my bags are tucked out of sight in a pocket or elsewhere, but once I’ve had the joy of cleaning up after a dog, I have my bright blue newspaper bag in hand. Without the bag, people smile a little or nod, or say a brief “Hello.”

  Yet once I have a full bag in hand, the friendliness of people reaches a new level. I am greeted heartily with cries of “Good morning!” “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” and “What a lovely dog!” It seems that carrying a bag of poop tells people what a good person I am, or at least a solid citizen and a good neighbor. It’s very interesting that I can see such a big difference in the behavior of strangers based on whether or not they can verify that I’m a picker-upper or a leaver-behinder.   This suggests to me that as a community, people with dogs are not perceived as being reliable about cleaning up after their dogs. And it’s little wonder. I know that in my neighborhood, almost everybody cleans up after their own dogs, but there is still a lot of poop left lying around. A few slackers really do ruin it for the rest of us, which is perhaps why when you have proof that you’re one of the good guys, people respond so positively.   Have you noticed an increase in friendliness when you are carrying a full poop bag?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Has Your Dog Damaged Your Computer?
Dogs and fragile technology don’t always mix

Last week I met a friend and colleague for a work session over coffee, but before we got down to business, he told me about the latest escapade involving his roommate’s dog. The dog, a miniature pinscher who is energetic and reactive by any measure, was resting cozily in my friend’s lap as he worked on his laptop. Both were enjoying being together in this way as they often do. The next few seconds were less relaxing and much more exciting.

  The sequence of events was 1) Visitor knocks at door, 2) Dog leaps straight up like a champagne cork and commences ear-piercing barking, 3) Dog collides with computer and computer power cord with tremendous force, 4) Computer crashes onto the floor in the open position, 5) Computer screen shatters, 6) Dog continues thrashing about the apartment at speeds approaching Mach 2.   As my friend put it, “You just don’t budget for things like that.” And that is so true. By definition, we never plan on these sorts of unexpected accidents. Yet most of us who have lived with a dog for any length of time have had to replace or repair some form of expensive technology because it got in the way of our dog’s exuberance.   What damage has your dog done to your computer or other costly equipment?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Can Dogs Be Valentines?
Celebrating love with other species

 

Late last week I was among those who received an e-mail from a friend of mine titled “Anybody wanna be Marley’s Valentine?” That was her way of selling the request for someone to walk her dog during the middle of the day today since she had to be away from the house for too long.   She went on to say that Marley is actually her Valentine, but that she has accepted that she is not the only love of his life. (It’s true—there are a lot of people who adore this dog and Marley seems quite fond of the lot of us. He is one of those dogs who tends to be particularly fond of guys, but it is my professional opinion that he loves me, too.)   I am the lucky one spending time with Marley today. Rather than just pop in for a walk, I brought him to my house, which is easier for me. It also gives me the chance to make my Valentine’s Day claim on him.   Marley and I just went for a run together. Once he has completely recovered and cooled down, he will enjoy a frozen Kong® filled with Kong® stuffing and some leftover roasted chicken. A massage is on the schedule for later on. Of course, this is exactly what we would be doing on any other day together, but I still think it’s a great way to celebrate a holiday about love.   Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day in any way with your dogs?  

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Colorectal Cancer Detection
A dog’s nose knows

In a new study called “Colorectal cancer screening with odour material by canine scent detection” published last week in GUT: An International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers document a dog’s ability to detect colorectal cancer. Dogs have previously been shown to be effective at detecting lung, skin, breast and ovarian cancers.

  In this study, a single dog was tested for her ability to detect cancer. The tasks were 1) to choose the breath sample that came from a person with cancer when it was randomly placed among four breath samples from people without cancer and 2) to choose the watery stool sample that came from a person with cancer when it was randomly placed among four watery stool samples from people without cancer.   The dog was correct in 37 out of 38 of the stool samples and in 33 out of 36 of the breath samples. The dog was not fooled by samples from people who smoke, or those who had benign colorectal polyps, inflammation or an infection.   Although this sort of detection is promising as a non-invasive means of detecting cancer, interestingly, the dog in this study is reported to lose her concentration in the hot summer months. This is a detail that needs to be attended to because obviously, the need for this sort of detection is not seasonal.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
What Snow Does To Dogs
Is yours more energetic and less attentive?

As strong as the kinship is that we share with dogs, this year’s nutty winter storms have hit members of both species differently in many cases. Most of the human inhabitants of the US are already completely sick of the snow. They are tired of shoveling, and clearing off their cars, and being stuck on the roads. Many dogs seem to fell differently. Snow is fun for most dogs, and, along with cooler winter temperatures, it really changes them. One of the most obvious changes is that dogs are more energetic, especially when they are outdoors.

That extra energy can be a good thing. The extra exercise is great for dogs who join you on any skiing or snowshoeing adventures. And you probably have company while shoveling snow. People shovel the snow and dogs try to catch it as it flies by to the piles. And I love it when a dog is happily tired in the evenings after a day of outdoor snow adventures.   However, if your dog is super peppy because of the snow and crisp air, it can be exhausting if the snow does not make you similarly inclined to be more playful and full of joy. It’s not ideal when dogs are invigorated by the weather but their people consider winter storms an inspiration to sip hot cocoa while reading a good book in front of the fire.   Energetic dogs are more likely to misbehave with destructive chewing, barking, whining, chasing the cat, and any of a number of undesirable actions that result from being full of energy with no outlet for it. When they do go outside, they may be less responsive because they are so distracted.   The way that snow changes many dogs is a big deal this winter since so much of the country is experiencing extreme and even record-setting amounts of snow. The more you are able to follow your dog’s lead and enjoy the snow, the less tedious and stressful your wait for spring will be.   How has the snow affected your dog?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Bulletproof Vests For Dogs
A third-grader’s idea saves lives

 

My morning ritual involves Grape Nuts cereal, a cup of tea, and an assessment of the day’s possibilities based on the cover story in my local paper, The Arizona Daily Sun. If the cover story is good news, charming, funny or positive in any way, I consider it a good omen for the day. If it is bad news, depressing, dull, or a downer for any other reason, I take immediate action by temporarily abandoning my quest for news of the world and turning to the sports page instead.   Last week, a story about a police dog who received a bulletproof vest through Project Police K-9 started my day in a better way than any front page story in the last year. The cheer this brought to my morning went way beyond the obvious plus that the cover story had a canine slant.   Project Police K-9 is a non-profit organization whose goal is to ensure that all of Arizona’s police dogs have stab proof and bulletproof vests. Since each of these lifesaving pieces of equipment costs $825, they are beyond the budgets of many law enforcement agencies. And yet any officer will tell you that the dogs are at risk of serious and even fatal injuries from knives and guns just as their human partners are.   This organization was started by Michael Valdez, who was inspired as a third-grader by a story of a police dog names Dax who was shot and killed in the line of duty. His teacher asked who in the class would be willing to call the Tucson Police Department to inquire about the possibility of donating a bulletproof vest for other canines serving in the force. He raised his hand to volunteer.   That was over a decade and 167 vests ago, with the most recent recipient being Kiko, a dog who works with the Coconino County Sheriff Department in Northern Arizona. Valdez is currently raising money for a vest for Viktor, the other police dog in that department.   Inspiring teachers who motivate kids, charitable young people taking action to save lives, a love for and an appreciation of dogs—can you see why this story was such a great start to my morning?    

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Super Bowl Sniffers
Dogs help keep the big event safe

 

The Super Bowl is an exciting event, but like any big gathering, it poses security risks. Where there are security risks, there are often human-canine teams whose job it is to secure the area and keep it safe for everyone.   Bomb-sniffing dogs (and their human handlers) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are working long hours searching for explosives in Dallas. Their work includes sweeping for explosives at Cowboys Stadium prior to the Super Bowl this Sunday. There will be more dogs than ever tackling this assignment because of the gigantic proportions involved. The stadium itself covers 73 acres, while the entire site, including the stadium covers 140.   Many of the dogs working the Super Bowl have experience sniffing for explosives in high profile events such as the World Series as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

 

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