By Susan Palmquist
Kari Harendorf of Animal Planet’s K-9 Karma
If you’ve turned on your TV during the daytime for some channel surfing, you may have already seen a show on Animal Planet called K-9 Karma. It’s all about celebrating the special bond and connection we have to the animals in our lives. K-9 Karma follows hosts Kari Harendorf and her dog Charlie on their daily activities around New York City.
Harendorf is a registered yoga teacher who owns East Yoga studio in the East Village. There, she not only teaches regular yoga classes, but along with Charlie, offers DOGA, a yoga class where humans can practice yoga with their dogs.
Focus on natural living
After watching just a few episodes of K-9 Karma, you soon realize that Harendorf embraces everything healthy natural living is all about. I recently had the pleasure to chat with her. Being a big fan of the show, the first thing I just had to ask her was how K-9 Karma came about.
“It’s one of those things where everything comes together,” Harendorf says. “I’d been teaching the DOGA class, and the press got to hear about it. A producer from Los Angeles just happened to be in town the day The New York Times ran a story about us, and he decided to stop by. He was on his way back to LA to pitch an idea for a new show for Animal Planet, but after seeing the class he decided to ditch that and pitched an idea that turned into K-9 Karma.”
Harendorf, originally from Toronto, Canada, came to the United States to attend New York University, where she received a BFA. Her ambition was to be an actress and a vet.
In fact, Harendorf and animals have a long history. She says she was the person strays always followed home, and animals have definitely played a significant part of her life. She’s been an emergency vet technician and animal trainer.
As well as Charlie, she and her husband have three other dogs. Although Charlie is the main dog featured in K-9 Karma, his sisters also get to take their turn in front of the cameras.
One episode followed Harendorf into a store to pick up food for the dogs, while another featured her meeting with a nutritionist in Whole Foods to show her what dogs should really be eating.
“I try to keep their food as organic as possible and hormone-free,” says Harendorf.
And natural health care for animals is also a priority. One episode showed Charlie getting acupuncture at the vet’s office. In another, Harendorf and Charlie visited a store in the East Village that sells homeopathic items for pets.
A cruelty-free lifestyle
Because of her love for animals, it’s not too surprising that Harendorf is a vegetarian and has been one since she was just 13 years old. She says she didn’t want to eat animals and has always had an interest in eating what’s good for you. “I took a nutrition class in third grade and it was eye-opening. I went home and said no more sugared cereal and no more pop with dinner, just skim milk,” she says.
Harendorf is a new mom and says K-9 Karma was actually filmed during her pregnancy. She is undecided if she’s going to raise her daughter as a vegetarian. “I really would like her to make that choice for herself. I don’t want to force it on her,” she says.
And for people who are thinking about becoming a vegetarian, she says there’s so much information out there these days that you can’t really go wrong. “It’s a personal decision,” she says. “You have to do what you can, take baby steps and do some research. Read books like ‘Nutrition for Dummies.’”
She told me that some viewers have e-mailed her and said they’d love to follow her example, but because they don’t live in big cities, resources are limited. “I tell them start their own co-op or carpool to the nearest health food store,” says Harendorf.
And as for exercise, she feels yoga is the ideal choice because it addresses the whole person.
“It’s great for your body and spirit, it’s something you carry with you all the time and it teaches you we are all really one big community,” she says.
Although K-9 Karma has yet to be picked up for another season, Harendorf has lots of projects in the works. She wants to tour different states giving demonstrations of DOGA and is also putting together DOGA DVDs so people can practice DOGA at home.
You can visit East Yoga Web site at www.eastyoga.com. Reruns of K-9 Karma can be seen every weekday on Animal Planet at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m Eastern Standard Time.
© Susan Palmquist
NFO Food Editor Susan Palmquist is a freelance writer specializing in food, wellness and money-saving topics. Her work has appeared in publications such as Psychology Today, Budget Savvy magazine and American Profile. She writes a weekly column that can be viewed every Friday at GardenAndHearth.com and a new monthly column called “Budget Smart” for Let's Go!.