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A Meant-To-Be Dog
I was destined to meet Radar
Here I am, meeting Radar for the first time

The kids and I came home from a long Friday afternoon following a long week and ready for some R & R, and found that we had company, which was good news. We were all enthusiastic in our hellos to our friend Nick, who we had not seen since before leaving for Costa Rica over 5 months ago. He had come over to see my husband, and us, too. Then, we embarrassed ourselves with bad manners by doubling our enthusiasm for his new dog, who was visiting as well. To exaggerate, it was something like, “Hi, Nick, great to see you!” followed by, “Ooh! Wow! Yay! A dog! He’s so cute! Can we pet him? Oh, he’s adorable!” Pretty typical for our family, I’m sorry to say.

My kids, honestly, are delighted about any canine visitor, and I’m pretty much the same. Still, this time, even I was over the top, and I think that’s a sign that this dog was meant to wander into my life and make me happy, even though he’s not actually my dog. First of all, this dog is a Havanese, which is my favorite breed of dog after the mixed breed. I’m not sure why Havanese always delight me, but I’ve never met one that I didn’t love. This little guy was no exception. (I’ve always thought it was fitting that I fell in love with a breed from Latin America—the Havanese is named after Havana, Cuba—since I am so interested in and comfortable in that culture.)

Second of all, when I asked Nick about the dog’s name, the answer was a pleasant surprise. The dog’s name is Radar. This literally made me squeal with delight because my mentor in the field of dog behavior, Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. used to joke that I was like Radar from the TV show MASH. Her reasoning was that I had a tendency to anticipate what was needed when I was her teaching assistant for her class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I loved the show, I loved the character, and I loved being compared to him.

Regrettably, Radar is not my dog, but I can’t help but feel a strong connection to him anyway. I just love the little guy! Have you ever met a dog that wasn’t yours and was never going to be yours, but you still felt like the dog was supposed to come into your life?


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.

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