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What is Black Dog Syndrome?

Picture yourself shopping at an outdoor mall. You see two pet owners walking toward you. One is walking a smaller, blonde dog; the other is walking a large, black dog. Most people around you are going to approach the smaller dog first. Your first thought may be that it’s simply size: smaller dogs are more approachable, right? That’s where you’d be wrong.

Animal shelters and rescue groups report high percentages of what’s known as Black Dog Syndrome, or BDS, which is basically a prejudice against black dogs. On average, black dogs spend up to four times more time in shelters and in foster care than do their lighter-colored counterparts. In fact, so do black cats. But why, you may ask?

  • Size
  • Unclear facial features
  • Badly lit kennels
  • The “genericness” of black pets
  • Negative portrayals of black pets in books, movies, and pop culture

The color of an animal has no impact on their behavior or personality, just like humans. Much of what is to blame in this scenario is simple superstition. Black, while it is a very popular color in fashion magazines, is widely considered an evil, unlucky, or even mean and unfriendly color. It’s deemed “unapproachable.”

When we approach a black pet, we need to set aside superstition or old beliefs. Just as you would with a person, you need to avoid judging a pet based on looks alone. BDS is easily avoidable, if we are only willing to work past our superficial personalities. If we can all work together to move away from this, then we can save many more animals’ lives.

The Benefits of Adopting a Senior Dog

According to most veterinarians – depending on size – most dogs are considered “seniors” at age seven. Many shelters are filled with healthy, active senior dogs searching for their forever homes. While an aged dog with a graying face may not be the first thing to come to mind when considering adopting an animal, pet owners should consider the positive aspects of adopting a senior dog.

  1. Senior dogs at shelters need homes just as badly as younger dogs.

Senior dogs are oftentimes more likely to be euthanized more quickly at shelters than are their younger counterparts. Families go to the shelter expecting to only see young dogs, but there are plenty of seniors ready to be taken home and loved. They’ve been loved for many years by the same family and had to be given up for one reason or another, so their situation is just as dire as the younger ones.

  1. Older dogs are not “problem dogs.”

Most older dogs do not lose their homes because of behavioral or health issues. Generally, it’s because of a change in the owner’s life, such as illness, allergies, the arrival of a new baby, or even moving somewhere that the dog is not welcome. Older dogs make wonderful pets, and they are more likely to be euthanized faster than the younger ones.

  1. Older dogs are usually trained.

Generally, senior dogs know at least the basic commands, such as “sit” or “stay.” You don’t have to potty train the dog, and they have good leash manners. They just need a loving home.

  1. Older dogs are easily trainable.

Whoever said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” never adopted a senior dog! Dogs are trainable at every age and every stage. It just requires patience and attentiveness from the owner.

  1. Older dogs are calmer.

Young dogs are rambunctious and require more energy than most senior dogs. Your average senior dog is happy with a nice walk a couple times a day, a comfortable bed, and a person to cuddle with. Less training is required, and they really just want a friend.

  1. Older dogs make great companions.

Senior dogs want your love and attention, period. They have given and received love already in their life, and they know how wonderful it is living in a home surrounded by humans who love them. Give them some exercise, a bed, and lots of cuddles, and you have an instant best friend.