I still remember the day I first heard the term "Black Dog Syndrome". Out of curiosity, I googled the term to find "The conjecture that black dogs (and cats) are less likely to be adopted from rescue shelters than animals of other colors". I looked over at my own dog, who was black as a puppy but had matured to be a lighter seal color. When I adopted him from the rescue that saved his very pregnant mother, it was his personality that I fell in love with. The lady from the rescue let him out of the pen and he charged out of there, running around as fast as he could. He spotted a kiddie pool full of water and dove in, laying down to drink the water. I loved his character, I could have cared less what color he was.
When we started rescuing dogs, the very first dog we took was a black brindle female that we still have. Her name is Lily. A month or so later, I received a euthanasia list from a high kill shelter in GA late one evening. I scrolled down looking at each dog, reading their brief description of breed, sex, personality and how they came to be at the shelter.
About three quarters of the way down the list, I came to a young black face peering out from behind the kennel fence. I looked at her description, it simply read "Black Pit, no chance". The particular shelter where she was didn't adopt out anything they felt had even a sliver of Pitbull in it. There was a county wide breed ban and I knew she didn't have much of a chance, but to see it written as her description really bothered me. Determined to prove them wrong, we committed to this dog and months later, we still have her. Her name is Callie and now that she has matured, she has turned out to be one of the nicest, most intelligent dogs we've ever had.
We also have a male black and white Pitbull mix named Kane who is a gorgeous dog. He needs a little obedience work, but he is a very sweet, happy dog. I've received one inquiry on him in the last three months. Most recently, we also pulled a small, black Terrier mix female named Pepper. It's been about a month but not a single person has contacted us about her.
If you had asked me previously, I would have never thought there was any truth to Black Dog Syndrome. However at every adoption event I have watched people scan the crates and look at our dogs, only to pass right over the black dogs as if they are invisible. At our last event, I made it a point to dress Callie up in her pink harness, pink collar and we kept her out walking with one of us for a good portion of the day. She rolled around with little children, gave them kisses and was so happy to spend what time she could with everyone she met. There was no way to miss her this way or not notice her, but still most of the people there still proceeded past her to look at the other dogs.
Every single time this happens, it breaks our hearts because we know that Callie knows she is being rejected. I'm sure she doesn't know why, but she still knows and we can see it in her face and behavior. Very rarely do we have a dog that tries so hard to please people. It's hard for us to watch the same scenario keep playing out at every event. She wags her tail at each approaching person, she tries to get their attention and she so badly wants a family of her own. Every time she gets her hopes up, we watch her get passed over time and time again. It's simply not fair. We have become very upset by it because we love these dogs.
If you're looking to adopt a dog, please give every one a chance to show you who they are on the inside. Personality and character should be what really matter when it comes to adopting a new companion. If I had passed over my own dog because of his color, I would have missed out on the best dog I have ever had. He has changed my life and I can't imagine a day without him in it.