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Shedding Light on Black Dog Syndrome

It’s not a myth. It’s a problem!

Being a PackPerson doesn’t mean I’m a dog expert. I may even be behind the pack in certain areas, but I’m learning new things all the time. It’s important to share that with you because we at PackPeople want you to share with us your discoveries and insights, one of the best ways to strengthen our community of fellow dog-owners and appreciators. So let me blab a little about something I only recently learned about: Black Dog Syndrome.

Okay, everyone else in the world may have already heard about this, but pardon me… this is Seriously. Freaking. Me. Out.

There is an actual stigma attached to black dogs! So much so that they are the least adopted color from shelters and suffer the highest rate of euthanasia. It already astounds me that color lines should still exist among people; but among people in regard to animals as well?

C’mon, people. What are we? Animals?

I found out about this while browsing through pet adoption sites, with a couple of ads urging potential adopters to sidestep the dreaded “Black Dog Syndrome” and give homes to the adorable dark-hued doggies who needed love just as much as their fair-furred shelter mates. It surprised me that this was a problem, perhaps because I’d known several well-loved black dogs throughout my life, so I did a little research on it (thanks, Google – man’s other best friend), a few highlights of which I’ll share with you right now:

Superstition can play a part. For many people, black dogs, like black cats, evoke impressions of bad luck.

Negative stereotypes also label black dogs as evil; large black dogs are often portrayed as aggressive and dangerous in movies, helping to feed the interrelated prejudice against “BBD”s (Big Black Dogs).

Facial features/expressions of black dogs do not register well in photographs, nor are they showcased in dimly lit shelters, causing them to be tragically, often fatally, overlooked.

Black dogs are often considered plain, ordinary-looking, which to me is a big doggy bag full of bunk. My little Ringo is black, and cuter than a cartoon bunny rabbit driving a toy car. So there.

So many dogs are in need of homes that its important we consider all of them, and to tell our friends when looking to adopt a dog to do the same. Fortunately, there are several Web sites devoted to the fight against Black Dog Syndrome. One site in particular, www.blackpearldogs.com, does a beautiful, passionate and highly detailed job of sharing information and enlightenment in this area.

Sadly, the most black dogs I’ve ever seen in any given place were at the various shelters I visited when I was looking for a pet, something I’d completely forgotten until writing this entry. It’s only now that I, someone with a black dog, can recall the scarcity of other black dogs when I’m out and about, at the dog park, at the groomer, at the pet store. Now I know where they are: in shelters, waiting for homes.

Spread the word and help shed some light on the world’s many homeless black dogs. They just need a little more of it to be seen, and once they are, they’ll get the chance to show just how loving, loyal and beautiful they can be. As much as a dog of any color.