Karen B. London
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Three-Legged Surfing Dog
What a joy!

Dogs bring us joy. It’s that simple and that beautiful. It doesn’t even have to be a dog I know for the happiness to come my way. This weekend, I read about a three-legged dog named Onyx who is learning to surf. To surf! I have all the legs nature originally gave me, and I have to tell you, my experience with surfing is far more about falling in the water at strange angles and velocities than it is about smoothly riding the perfect wave.

I felt such joy learning about this dog enjoying himself on the water, when surely many would have doubted that it was possible. Onyx is in a happy home, now, but when he was found five months ago, he was attached to a wooden post and his leg was a bloody mess. The veterinarian and orthopedic specialist who is now his guardian was worried he wouldn’t even make it to surgery much less survive it because he was severely dehydrated and septic. And now he’s romping, playing and surfing.

His story tells of a more dramatic turnaround than many dogs experience, but he’s not alone in doing things that seemed doubtful at one time. Over the years, I’ve had many clients whose dogs had behavioral issues and were able, after hard work, to do things that they wouldn’t have believed possible. To hear someone express joy that they can take their dog out on uneventful neighborhood walks now even though the dog used to bark-lunge and go crazy at the sight of a dog even a block away thrills me. And the happiness people feel now that their formerly frightened dog accepts visitors to the house without shrieking and hiding is a happiness I share with them.

Anytime a dog achieves something, it’s a cause for celebration, but that’s especially true when it’s the end result of an uphill battle. What does your dog—with however many legs—do that you or other people might have considered unlikely or even impossible, but that is now a source of joy to you both?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

Screen shot from KVOA News 4 in Tucson.


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Submitted by Katherine | January 26 2012 |

Well... my 2 year old Wrinkles used to sleep with me. I loved it, and I have to admit I do miss her. The minute she didn't fit in her crate anymore, she is a Pit Mix and at 4 months was already too big for it, she started putting her paws up on the bed expecting to be picked up. She knew when it was bedtime because I would start to pull the comforter back, and there she came. I couldn't say no. I now have a boyfriend for a little over a year with pretty sensitive skin. He itches like crazy if she is on the bed, and then neither of us will sleep. So...he hasn't entirely "won" this yet, but he's pretty close. When he is here, she doesn't get on, but that waan't without putting up a fight. She ate his slippers, 3 of them, while we slept, his baseball cap and came REALLY close to his wallet! She wasn't giving up that easy!! Now, the few times he leaves a little earler than me in the morning, she paces around crazily and the minute he leaves all I hear is her getting closer and moving faster getting ready to JUMP on the bed. He calls 2 mintues later, like clockwork, "She's on the bed huh", I say, "You know she was just waiting for you to leave". Gotta love her!!!

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