Why are black dogs so often overlooked in favor of lighter colored dogs? I think there are two main reasons for this.
Shelters notoriously have poor lighting. Because of this, very dark colored dogs are not as visible; they don’t catch your eye as much and are easy to miss. I’ll admit there have actually been times when I’ve arrived at the shelter and I’m running around helping people, and I’ve missed a black dog or two sitting in the back of their poorly lit kennel. I’ll do a double- take and think, wow where did that one come from? I simply didn’t see him! I feel so guilty when that happens. Poor lighting also makes for a poor photograph, so when people view photos of the shelter’s adoptable dogs online, the photos of black dogs are usually not good and don’t entice people to come see the dog.
|Even in sunlight, it's hard to see Dusty's beautiful dark brindle coat|
Recently, I vowed to do something to help combat Black Dog Syndrome at the shelter where I volunteer. Now when I arrive at the shelter, I check every kennel to see if we have black dogs. We always do. If a smaller black dog is in the bottom row of kennels, I move them to an upper kennel or place them into a larger play area or a meet and greet room so they can get more visibility. I’ll move a big black dog into a larger area as well to help him stand out more. I also put a colorful bandana, sweater, harness, or collar on them, or place a brightly colored blanket in the kennel to help draw peoples’ attention as they pass by. “Oh, look how cute that dog looks in her pink bandana!” A black dog will really pop against orange, red or pink. Bright multi colored patterns are even better, they have “movement” and really catch the eye.
|My latest foster dog, Howdy.|
A couple of weeks ago, we had a beautiful jet black pit bull puppy about 6 months old at the shelter. He was in the bottom row of kennels and hardly anyone noticed he was even there. I took him out, tied a colorful bandana on him, and placed him in a meet and greet room to make him more visible. I also gave him a bright blue squeaky ball to play with. As people entered the shelter and passed by the meet and greet room, they could see him clearly…. and hear him continually squeeking his ball. Let me tell you, every person that came in noticed this little guy and he was quickly adopted. I have since added colorful squeaky toys to my bag of tricks to help combat Black Dog Syndrome. It’s such a small thing but it makes a huge difference. If you want to help your local shelter combat Black Dog Syndrome, donate some brightly colored bandanas, dog clothing, collars or harnesses. I find fabulous collars and harnesses at stores that sell stuff for a dollar. I started buying bunches of them to donate to the shelter regularly.
Check out photographer Fred Levy's gorgeous photos of black dogs, which he creatively photographed against a black backdrop in his Black Dogs Project at, www.fredlevyart.com