The Syndrome

You walk into a house and there, before you, is a litter of Labrador puppies.  They’re SO cute!  There are yellows, chocolates and blacks.  They’re bounding around you, trying to be the first to lick your face.  Oh, which one do you pick?  They’re all so cute but that one… That one over there.  That’s the one!  You reach over and pick up that tiny bundle of kisses and hold it close. 


Guess which colored Labrador puppy you picked up…..???


Well, if you’re like most folks, it was a yellow one.  Why?  Because as a rule, they are the ones who go first.  It’s called “Black Dog Syndrome”.  If given a choice of colors, folks will usually pick the lighter ones.  There are articles coming out now about this syndrome but I’ve watched it happen for years.  So has every other rescue organization.  We’re all thrilled that it’s getting attention at this point!

There are some rescue organizations who ONLY pick light colored dogs.  Why?  Because people want them…  Easy in, easy out.  The black or dark dogs sit and wait, taking up valuable room in shelters everywhere.


WHY!!!  Well, let’s take a look at it.  I used to think that only southern shelters were the only ones to have this issue but my personal research has shown that it’s a nation-wide trend.  People don’t like dark colored dogs!  It has absolutely nothing to do with their personalities or physical traits.  It’s that dark color.

Remember when cowboy pictures had the hero always wearing the white hat?  He was the “good guy”… The villan wore a black hat. 


Remember Old Yeller?  He was a YELLOW dog – the hero!  Think of any movie with a “bad” dog in it and it’s probably a dark dog (ok, Toto is the exception here although he DID get into trouble with that witchy neighbor!).  Think of those with “good” dogs (heroes) and they’re usually light in color (Benji, Annie’s dog, Sandy, Lassie).


We wear black for funerals and white for weddings.  Witches wear black and angels wear white.  It goes on and on.


So what’s the difference between light colored dogs and dark colored ones?  Dark colored dogs die more often in shelters across America.  They’re over-looked because you can’t easily see their eyes – something we all look into to see if this is the “right” dog for us.  They don’t photograph well.  They seem mysterious and, therefore, somehow not as “good” as the light dogs.  They are no different than their lighter counter-parts.  It’s time we gave these guys a second glance!  It may take more to look into those eyes, but it will be well worth the time.  It may even save a life.


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