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
Mutt Inspires Thoughts of Nirvana
Dooley’s behavior models the Dalai Lama

Newspaper reporter Abbie Gripman read about a Tibetan Mastiff who was sold for $1.5 million dollars in China. The reason for the high price is that in China and Tibet, members of this breed are believed to be reincarnated souls of monks who did not achieve Nirvana.

  As any normal person with a dog would do, Gripman began to search for signs of holiness in her own dog, Dooley, whose breed mix is undetermined, presumably because of its complexity. Showing the truth of the expression, “Seek and ye shall find,” signs of his highly spiritually advanced state became apparent.   Where some people might see a dog sleeping, Gripman noticed a dog who was in a deep meditative state.   What others identified as snoring, she astutely realized was Dooley repeating his mantra.   While certain observers might think that Dooley has low prey drive, Gripman identifies his tendency to ignore squirrels as a sign that Dooley believes in living and letting live: “He honors the life of the squirrel.”   Her kids remain unconvinced that Dooley is holy. However, Gripman’s husband is either brilliant at keeping peace within a marriage or recognizes the larger truth about their dog, or both. He suggested they rename him “The Dooley Lama.”   Namaste.  


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Biodegradable Poop Bags
A green option for waste

Recently, I posted a blog about how friendly people are when they see me carrying a bag of poop. One great comment was that people would probably offer even bigger smiles if I carried the poop in environmentally friendly biodegradable poop bags instead of plastic newspaper bags. Fair point.


I looked into the biodegradable poop bags and want to share what I learned. They are made from corn and contain no polyethylene, and are completely compostable and biodegradable. Depending on the exact conditions, they typically decompose in a compost bin within 6 weeks. Because they “breathe,” odor is kept to a minimum since there is less bacterial build up than in bags that don’t breathe. They will not decompose or start to decay in any way just sitting on your shelf.   They will also fail to decompose with any sort of speed if put in the trash and taken to a landfill, which is not an environment conducive to such chemical processes. So, using them in an environmentally green way involves composting them, burying them, or disposing of them with yard waste, depending on whether that is allowed in your community.   Biodegradable bags are available in two sizes—the regular size is 8 by 12½ inches and the big size is 10 by 14 inches. They are available in packages of 50 regular bags for $7.49, which comes to 10 cents per bag. The big size is just over 20 cents a bag. Buying in larger quantities can reduce the price to as little as 5 cents each for regular and about 14 cents each for big bags.   Have you tried these bags, and if so, what is your experience with them?  


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Robert Bradford’s Dog Art For Sale
Big bucks can buy recycled art

The artist Robert Bradford of Great Britain has a dog piece up for sale, and it’s available for under $10,000! Bradford has a solo show in Paris at Envie d’Art and his work includes “Beg,” a two-foot high dog in a begging posture. It is made of toys, clothes and flashlights.

  Bradford is well known for his sculptures of recycled toys and has other works of art in the form of dogs. They are not to everyone’s taste, and while I like seeing them, they don’t fit my home décor or my home decorating budget.   Are you a fan?
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Guardian Billed For Damages After Dog Killed By Car
Insurance company later backed down

When Tom Wrynn’s 8-year old Lab Mystie was hit and killed by a car last month, his view was that it was a sad accident. Mystie ran in front of the car on a dark night, and her black coat made her difficult or impossible to see. The driver of the car was in tears, and he consoled her, telling her that it was dark and hard to see and it was not her fault. (The Wrynn family still has Mystie’s daughter Zeta and I hope they have taken steps to keep her from running out into the road. Accidents involving dogs being hit by cars happen all too often, and prevention can save dogs’ lives.)

  Not long after Mystie was killed, the family received a letter from Plymouth Rock, the driver’s insurance company, saying that the dog caused the accident and that Wrynn was liable for the damages. The insurance company included a picture of the car, an estimate for repairing it and a bill for $738.13. According to Massachusetts state law, Wrynn is responsible for paying for the damage because the dog caused the accident.   Though it may not be considered a parallel situation legally, I can’t help but compare this to accidents involved people being hit and killed by cars. It’s hard to stomach the thought of a parent or other relative being held financially responsible for damages if the cause of the accident had been a child, someone who is elderly person or any other person.   The insurance company later issued a statement saying that after re-examining the case, they decided to take back their request for Wrynn to pay.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Canine Corps Cares For Dogs of People Deployed
Free help to military families

Matthew Chapman, an explosives specialist in the military, and his wife Debbi were alarmed when they learned about a policy that could have a big effect on them. If they had to be evacuated from South Korea, they would only be allowed to take two dogs with them. That presented a huge problem because the couple has three dogs and tensions between North Korea and South Korea are increasing, making evacuation more likely.

  Unwilling to risk leaving a dog behind, they chose to foster one of their dogs with the Canine Corps at Paw Prints Dog Sanctuary. They delivered their dog Dehlila to the facility, which is in Pennsylvania and serves military families whose dogs need a place to live when they are deployed or otherwise unable to keep their dog with them. Including Dehlila, the facility has 13 pets belonging to members of the military. They care for these military pets until their guardians are able to come back for them.   The Chapmans asked how they could help the organization, which provides free care for the pets of military people from Pennsylvania. The founder of the Canine Corps, himself a veteran, answered, “Come home safely.”
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dogs Vary in Size Within Breeds
How big is the range?

Last weekend, there was a chocolate Lab at the athletic fields where my husband and I were playing flag football with some other people, including his guardian. Both my children had a ball running around with Porter on the sidelines. He was very sweet and well trained. He played Frisbee, chased some of the adults around if they enticed him to do so, and got off the field and sat when asked to do so. He was energetic, but not overly aroused, let everybody pet him, and was generally a credit to his breed.

  He was also enormous. He weighs 105 pounds, and while nobody would describe him as svelte, he wasn’t overly fat as we regrettably know so many dogs in this country are. It’s hard to say, but I would guess that his perfect weight would be somewhere in the low 90s, which is still a large Lab. He was broadly built and unusually tall for his breed. His loping style of running made me wonder whether he had any Great Dane in him, but I was told he’s all Lab.   Lately, I have seen quite a few Labs who are pretty large, and yet I’ve also seen ones who are so small I suspect people often think they are adolescents who are yet to reach full height, event though they are 3-years-old, 5-years-old, or more—certainly full grown. I’ve seen dogs of other breeds who seem far from typical in size, including a Brittany who is 5 inches taller than all his littermates and an Airedale Terrier who was much closer in size to an average Irish Terrier.   I know that despite breed standards, what’s popular in terms of size varies over time. And sometimes, for whatever reason, dogs are born who don’t match the size typical in their lines. Coming from a family with women who range in height from 4’9” to 5’11”, I am very interested in diversity in size among relations.   Do you have a dog who is either unusually large or unusually small for the breed?


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Mark Zuckerberg Has a New Puli
Beast has his own Facebook profile

The CEO and founder of Facebook has a new buddy—Mark Zuckerberg brought home a Puli this past weekend. The new pup is named Beast and has his own Facebook page. Beast has more than 23,000 fans already, with more being added every hour.


Beast’s Facebook page tells us that he likes “cuddling, loving and eating” and that though he was born in Grants Pass, Ore., he is a type of Hungarian Sheepdog. He has recently learned to climb the stairs.   Press reports have ranged from congratulatory to cynical, suggesting that Zuckerberg only got a dog to soften his public image. Photos of Beast with Zuckerberg and his girlfriend show him to be fluffy and photogenic and suggest that Beast is receiving a lot of loving and attention.
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.