Black Dog Syndrome
My friend Colleen Thompson recently posted on Facebook about the fate of black dogs in animal shelters. It turns out that they are usually the last to be adopted, the first to be euthanized. There are several possible reasons for this, from the idea that they are just too ordinary to evil folk tales of dark hounds and the fact that people tend to fear that black dogs are more aggressive than their lighter counterparts.
But the most probable reason that they are overlooked is that it is hard to get a good picture of them. Consider my own Prince Harry. This is the best picture I have of him and it doesn’t begin to capture his loving personality.
New dog owners bond with their pets through the animal’s eyes and it’s harder to see a black dog’s eyes. Even now after a couple years with Harry, his little face seems less expressive than Mack’s (our mostly white puppy-mill-reject terrier) because there isn’t much color contrast. But he’s the sweetest, most lovable little fellow we could ever want.
Harry didn’t come to us through a shelter. My niece found him tied to a tree in the middle of the woods without food or water–left to die, either from exposure to the elements, starvation, thirst or predators. Someone’s hard heart is our gain. Harry has been a wonderful addition to our family.
If you’re considering a pet this Christmas, let me encourage you first to go to a shelter instead of buying a purebred. Those purebred puppies are very likely to find homes. The dogs in your local shelter are fighting against the clock. Even in a “no kill” shelter, animals will often pine away if they are not adopted after a time. Dogs need people.
And while you’re there at the shelter, fight against “Black Dog Syndrome.” Don’t overlook the black dogs. They just might be your new best friend.
Do you have a pet? How did you find him/her? Did they find YOU?
Have fun and good luck!