National Black Dog Day was invented to raise awareness of dogs that get overlooked by potential adopters due to their colour. Believe it or not, black dogs and cats have a harder time getting adopted from shelters than their paler counterparts. So why is it that black dogs and cats spend more time in rescues and receive less attention than their peers?
It’s thought to be due to subliminal prejudice linked to folklore, superstition, and media portrayals. It’s also because black dogs are deemed to be less photogenic than paler dogs, and in the age of Instagram, this is a huge turnoff for a lot of people.
The negative subconscious associations of the colour black have been intensified by the media who often portray baddies in dark clothing, and hellhounds as black, snarling dogs with fearsome eyes. Winston Churchill also used ‘the black dog’ as a metaphor for depression, which doesn’t help!
Black cats have been associated with witchcraft, bad omens, death, and bad luck for hundreds of years. One of the earliest folklore tales from the Middle Ages was about a man and his son who threw stones at a black cat. The injured cat fled into a woman’s house for shelter. Unfortunately for the cat, the woman was already suspected of being a witch, and so, when the woman emerged the next day with a limp, the father and son suspected that the cat must have shapeshifted into her form.
Whether you believe that black cats bring good or bad luck depends widely on where in the world you are:
A black cat, I’ve heard it said,
Can charm all ill away,
And keep the house in which she dwells,
From fever’s deadly sway.
It is such a shame that a black cat’s charm is often overlooked, as they have just as much love to give and have a more even temperament than some other colours (We’re thinking of you, naughty torties!).
In recent times, black animals get overlooked because we live in an age where we like to visually document and share everything, and it can be difficult to get a well-defined photo of a dark animal. Charities, organisations and even photographers have even provided guides to help combat this issue for cats, and for dogs too.
People are often more drawn to unusual colours or markings, and animals that are purely one colour may be considered dull. However, there is nothing dull about these cats and dogs, they are just as animated as any others, it can just be a bit harder to read their facial expressions due to the lack of definition.
There are so many loving dogs and cats in rescues and shelters that deserve a family and home to call their own, and just like any other pet, they only need a chance to show off their personalities. Why not share and celebrate your black dog or cat this October to help spread the pawsitivity? Here are some ways to celebrate: