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Thursday, February 17, 2011

'Black Dog Syndrome':
It's Surprising Upside!

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
© Carrie Boyko
Black Dog Syndrome's Upside

You're probably shaking your head right now. "Is she nuts?" There is no upside to Black Dog Syndrome. Think again!

Before I explain how, look at this fierce, howling, black Fido in the picture above. She's my Xena at about age 12. Even in her later years, that answering howl to neighborhood dogs baying was, to an uneducated onlooker, a scary thing. I always knew the real truth; here's the lessons I could use. You can employ them also, if you have a black dog.

At 55 pounds throughout most of her adult life, Xena was certainly not a giant breed, yet was no small dog. More than a few times a repair man, sales person or other visitor asked me to secure her before they approached. I had to laugh to myself, knowing this little softie as I did. She wouldn't have hurt a fly.

When Patches brought her lizards from outdoors, proudly displaying them to get Xena's praise, Xena just watched as Patches played with the small victim.  Afterwards, she would generally give Patches a bath, as if to say, you got dirty playing that messy game and it's time to clean up now, young 'un!

What's my lesson? No matter how ferocious your black dog may appear in the window, your people-loving dog will be a safe bet on your homeowner's insurance (saving you money!), while at the same time serving to keep unscrupulous visitors at bay in your absence. 

More than once when I answered the door with Xena at my side, I was happy to have a wary onlooker ask "Will he bite?". I always knew that her presence here was good burglar prevention. Who needs an alarm system when they have a big black dog hanging out by the front door?
© Carrie Boyko
Xena Keeps Watch
(If Only Just to Get a Belly Rub)
Next time you go looking to adopt a dog, consider that black dog that has been waiting a long while for a furever home. He may be just what you need to protect your home and family, while offering the love and devotion that termed him "Man's Best Friend".

Xena served our family for just short of 14 years. During that time I had many a visitor step back when they saw her at the door. One football-player look-alike turned and walked off the property before even speaking. Why are black dogs scary? Who knows. But they can be just as lovable as a white Westie and much more useful in the role as an apparent guard dog. Let's help abolish Black Dog Syndrome. Give them a second look.

Read Xena's eulogy

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CeliaSue Hecht said...

same thing can be said for Pit Bulls. Some people fear them, too. And media is why. But the only thing Cici would do to a guest/stranger is lick them to death. Slobber slobber and show them her belly. very bad guard dog. But she does keep some unsavory people away just looking at her 53 pound polka dot princess self.

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

I'd say MANY people fear a pit bull or a Staffie. And there are plenty of other breeds that bear the same misunderstanding--GSDs, Rotties, Dobies, and more. Every Black Dog out there can have a little of each of these in their dna; often we don't know.

In Xena's case, we knew her breed: Golden Retriever mom and a Lab/Chow dad. She had a full, thick coat and a small purple spot on her tongue--compliments of the Chow. None of the typically more aloof attitude of a Chow. She was all Retriever in her temperament--people loving and people-pleasing, with a heavy dose of mothering instinct. Try putting that on a door sign. BOL!

Patti said...

Black Dog Syndrome?? This has never entered my mind...people really think this way??? I have to say being a groomer, I am not fearful of any dog but I am wary of the small ones...they do tend to go for the face and I was nipped by one a couple of years ago...I still ove them all :)

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Patti--obviously it didn't bother us either, but it is a big problem with larger dogs getting adopted, especially in rescues and humane societies.

You may not see as much of it in the small dog rescue that you're involved with, as little dogs have different complications. You named one that is more common to small pups. I'm glad you didn't let that stop you from caring. Good for you!

Nature by Dawn said...

The black dog syndrom is very true. I used to work at an animal shelter and black dogs always stayed there the longest before they were adopted.

Sephi always gets leary looks. When she was two, I started having her wear pink or purple scarves so that she wouldn't look so darned mean.

I don't mind it when she scares unwanted solicitors away. One shady salesperson had asked if he could use my bathroom and if my dogs bite. My answer, yes, the black one is especially mean. (NOT!) said...

Black dog syndrome is all too common in shelters across the country and it's heartbreaking.

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