There is nothing like coming home after a trying day and seeing the smile of your best friend.
It’s called Black Dog Syndrome or Big Black Dog Syndrome (BDS or BBDS). It’s a problem that every animal shelter and dog rescue in the world understands all to well.
This phenomenon could be due to a number of things. Geographic location, fear of certain breed types or the fact that large black dogs are thought to be dangerous because they are portrayed that way in films and on television.
Did you know that black dogs, especially large breed dogs, such as Labs, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Chows, Newfoundlands, and even mixed breeds are usually the last ones to be adopted from shelters or rescue groups? Black dogs are often euthanized at a higher rate than other coat colors.
Here are some other reasons given for why black-coated dogs don’t get adopted as easily.
- They don’t show or photograph well in a kennel setting.
- It isn’t easy to distinguish their features.
- If they have any gray or white hairs on their face, they often appear older than they are.
- They often don’t look as cute as lighter coated dogs.
As to location, In European and British folklore black dogs often appear as evil forces and death. Writers like Sir Walter Scott and Arthur Conan Doyle perpetuated this superstition by using spectral hounds, usually black and fearsome, in their stories and poems.
Some people believe the superstition that suggests that “black is evil” like the symbolism of Scar vs. Mufasa in “The Lion King.” In a 2011 study by the ASPCA, appearance was the most frequently cited reason for adopters of both puppies (29 percent) and adult dogs (26 percent).
This issue has been gaining media attention since the mid-2000s. Tamara Delaney, an early activist against black dog syndrome, developed a website called Black Pearl Dogs in 2004 specifically to address the issue, both by educating the public about its existing, as well as showcasing individual dogs available for adoption.
As one who as adopted a black dog, I’d suggest that they are just a sweet, and just a loving as any other color of dog. She was a great companion and a great teacher. She was loved by everyone she met (animal and human) and when the chance arises again I’ll be the first one to adopt another Big Black Dog …
This is a photo of my dog Princess Neka. She was one of my biggest challenges and one of my greatest learning experiences. She came to me as a “frightened of everything” German Shepherd Dog. She had been dumped in the country as a young dog and she had no trust of humans beyond the point of taking food and water. The rescue told me that she would never get along very well with other dogs and she should never be around kids.
I worked with her every moment I could for about 6 months. After just 8 weeks she had 5 new dog friends and was hanging out in my back yard with 3-4 of the neighborhood kids.
Before she passed away she was visiting a Nursing Care Center and she was mentoring several dogs that I was working with that had behavior issues. She was just days away from taking the test for CGC when she passed away of a sudden illness. She was only 6 years old.
The photo above is a picture of Neka’s Garden when it was completed in June. The poem below is one I wrote shortly after, in her memory. I revealed it for the first time at her memorial dedication in September.
I hope you like it. It’s called:
Into Canine Paradise
Into Canine Paradise,
long before your time.
Your stay with me was far to short,
the sorrow now is mine.
You gave your love, companionship
and never stopped to judge.
Friendship given to man and beast,
you never held a grudge.
You fixed my heart once broken,
when another passed away.
You gave me strength and courage
to go on another day!
Our bond grew strong through life and love,
both learned respect and trust.
You taught me that there’s more to life,
you showed me fun’s a must.
You came so far so quickly,
you helped man and dogs in need.
You volunteered to visit sick
and truly helped indeed.
Although you never cared for hugs
you always gave them out.
Especially to the little ones
when they came over to hang out!
I’ll remember you forever,
you’re always in my heart.
Any dog who crosses my path,
will know of your friendly bark!
Until forever day arrives,
when we meet again that day.
Just hang around the bridge up there,
Enjoying new friends at play.
By Michael Albee – Copyright 2011
If you have been reading this blog, you know that back in April I had to say goodbye to my beautiful German Shepherd Neka after a very short illness.
Patchs and Neka got along great with each other from the first moment they met. They loved to play together, wrestle and just hang out, but it was much more than that. After a short time it was like they could finish each others sentences and yes even each others thoughts.
There were times that I would stop what I was doing or turn off the TV and just watch them. More times than not, if you watched them close enough you could see them talking to each other, even though there was nothing ever said. (I mean no barking)
Between them and you could fill in the words to the non-verbal communication, because you could just tell what was going on in their minds!!!
Here’s a few examples:
I’ll never bring about world peace. I won’t single handedly save the rain forest. I’m not a brain surgeon and I’ll never transplant an organ to save a life. I’ll never have an ear of a powerful politician or world power. I don’t have any idea how to end world hunger. I’m not a celebrity, and God knows I’ll never be glamorous! Millions of people around the world do not admire me, and in fact, very few people even recognize my name. I’ll never win the Nobel Prize. I’ll never find a way to end global warming.
There are a lot of things that I’ll never do or become while I’m here on earth, But today, I made a difference …. because I adopted and saved a dog’s life!
She was an unsure, scared, and nervous bundle of fur and bones. She was picked up by an animal shelter after she was found roaming around the countryside. She was left out there to fend for herself by unfeeling people who obviously didn’t care what happened to her. Lets not kid ourselves, she was left out there to die!
But now she has a home!
She now knows security, contentment and she gets an abundance of love. She has a warm place to sleep, plenty to eat and also has guidance, structure and leadership. Within a short distance from home, she has warm fuzzy friends to play with. They give her the things that only other dogs can give. They teach her about playing, having fun and being a dog.
In return she gives me unquestioning devotion, friendship and she is a great companion. We enjoy walks, going to the park, playing ball or just hangin’ out.
At the end of a hard day, she helps me relax. She helps me stay grounded and when life gets all mixed up, she helps me put it back in order. A great dog can do that for you!!! She also gives me a sense of security. When I’m away, I know that there is a protector and guardian keeping watch over all she surveys.
No, I’m not a rocket scientist. But today, I made a difference! For both of us!
Copyright 2007 – Michael Albee – All Rights Reserved