[Parts of the details of this story have been withheld to protect the innocent.]
One evening I was at a dinner party with my darling Riggins. At the time he was young and spoiled (now he is old and spoiled) which meant he was better off sitting next to me while we ate dinner vs. forcing him outside where he would bark like a crazy person wanting to come in to be with his human friends. Some would say that it is rude to allow your dog to watch you eat at the dinner table with non-dog people and even sneak him scraps while no one is looking. I would even suggest those people are right … I would also suggest I don’t care. So there I was sitting with Riggins at my side when the following conversation happened:
Woman: What’s that dog’s name?
Woman: Reagan? Like after the president?
Wendy: No Riggins. He was actually named after a football player.
Woman: Why? Because he is a n… [insert n word]
Wendy: Actually Riggins was a white gentleman …. so no.
Women (in response to shock and awe at the table): What? The dog is a n….
Wendy: True enough.
Riggins is a beautiful black with a white/black spotted chest and paws. He was one of two (or three … I forget) black dogs in his litter. His mom was a German Shorthair Pointer while his dad was a Samoyed so most of the pups where a white and or white/cream/brown color combination. When I saw the pups there were only two of the them without homes. I knew I wanted a male dog and that meant my only option was Riggins, the “giant black one” of the litter. They had named him Gigantor. I’m so lucky I Gigantor was the one left …. as he obviously was meant to belong to me!
I bring this up because there is a phenomenon among adoptable animals called “BDS” or “Black Dog Syndrome.” Although I suppose I should be a good fake journalist and admit it is a debatable “syndrome,” if you talk to (and/or google information) shelter folks they will tell you black animals tend to stay in shelters much longer than their light-colored companions. There are lots of suggestions on why this is but here are my thoughts:
* Good pictures of black dogs (this is true for cats and other adoptable animals so assume I mean all of them in the future when I say “dogs.”) are hard to get. Ask any black dog mom/dad and she/he will show you a thousand photos of black blobs for that one good pic of their baby. Many shelters are getting help (or hiring) from professional photographers to get great pictures of the adoptable pets to post online so hopefully this will help in the future. In the meantime poorly lit kennels and black dogs equal crappy photos that don’t show the dogs loving personality.
* It’s sometimes hard to see a black dogs eyes. I recently trained to volunteer in a local no-kill animal shelter and was VERY CAREFUL not to make eye contact with the dogs. That’s how they get you. You are just minding your own business and BAM their soulful eyes pull you in and tell you that they need you. Next thing you know you have a new buddy in your life. Unfortunately black dogs usually have a darker eye color which makes it hard to make that connection with them.
* Black dogs are mean. Of course this isn’t true but it is what people think. I told a story in a previous blog how, when on a hike, people were afraid of “the black dog.” It happened this morning. People were afraid of the black dog when it was the cute little cream-colored cocker spaniel mix that tried to eat a chihuahua whole. Some folks think that it is because “bad” dogs in movies are often black in color. I just think we associate the black dog color with aggression …. because we are stupid humans.
Many shelters will have a “black dog awareness month” or day or week and offer special adoption rates during that time. Right now some of the Best Friend locations have their Back in Black special during the month of May. If you are looking to adopt give the dark dudes and dudettes a shot. I can guarantee they are love bugs!