Do you know what day it is?
It’s National Black Dog Day today, Oct. 1.
The day is recognized for the fact that black dogs often experience difficulty being adopted. This is such a common concept that it has a term many rescues use to describe it: Black Dog Syndrome. Some also use the acronym “BBD” or “big black dog,” when referring to large black dogs, a combination that slows the adoption process even more as people seldom want to adopt large breed dogs.
On average, a black dog will spend more time awaiting their new home when compared to lighter-colored dogs. The reasons are pretty varied, some of them a side-effect of technology’s limitations causing images on websites to not be as effective and others being related to cognitive bias wherein people associate the color with unfavorable traits in dogs and cats, such as aggression or various myths.
Especially in cats, thanks in part to Halloween and the association with witches as well as bad luck, those factors often leads to black cats remaining in shelters for extended periods of time – sometimes months.
None of these have any real foundation, however, as cats and dogs have personalities built entirely independent of their coat color – it’s just outdated folklore.
The slowness for their adoption is something I’ve definitely noticed in the past few years of covering the goings-on of Warren County’s Animal Control. So many animals come in on a regular basis, but the black cats and dogs are always the last to get adopted. It doesn’t matter that they’re sweet and cuddly, they just don’t “stand out” when potential adopters walk through. I’m always surprised to see a pet linger so long among the adoptable options, especially when they have a great personality and would make a wonderful pet for a family willing to give them a chance.
I have both a black cat and a black dog in my family personally, and I can attest that they’re both wonderful additions. People complain that they’re hard to photograph, what with the world’s obsession with broadcasting our lives in clips of images on social media, but that’s hardly the most important part of pet ownership.
Luckily, it seems as though awareness of this phenomenon has begun to have ripple effects and things are improving, however steadily. National Black Dog Day is a great opportunity to visit the local shelter and give the pets there some love, or even adopt one that has been hanging around out there for a while without a lot of interest.
As for those who, like myself, already have a black dog in their family – it’s a chance to get them an extra treat at the store to appreciate them a little bit extra today.
P.S. – Warren County Animal Control currently has several sweet black cats who are currently looking for their “forever” families, so be sure to check them out!
Standard reporter Nikki Childers can be reached at 473-2191.