Black Dog Syndrome: Belle’s Story Common Among Shelter Dogs

Kevin Roberts
by Kevin Roberts

Have your ever heard of Black Dog Syndrome? It’s not a disease or a condition that dogs suffer from, it’s actually a problem with humans! But what is it all about? For that story, Kevin Roberts is going to tell you how he met his black dog, Belle, and how he almost passed her over just because of the color of her fur.

It was a good time to look for another dog. I wanted a medium-sized dog who would enjoy playing disc, be able to handle adventures and get along with my pack. I started telling friends that I was ready for another dog. With all my canine-loving friends, I was sure that I would be getting calls in no time.

Well, it didn’t take long when I got word from a friend. The story went like this: A few weeks before, she had found a young dog that was running down the highway by her farm. She stopped the car and the dog jumped right in. The dog didn’t have any tags, so she took it to the local veterinarian. The vet held the dog for a few weeks, and an owner never came forward. The dog was put up for adoption.

The dog sounded friendly with people and got along well with other dogs. My friend sent me a picture. I saw a black dog – just a plain dog, nothing special. There was no tug at my heart, no special connection. So I moved on, feeling in my heart that the right dog and I would meet. I took the summer to travel and casually check out furry companions.

A few months later, I came back to town and renewed my search in earnest. Once again, I told friends that I was looking for the right dog to fit into my pack. Another friend who is active in dog rescue called me up saying she had found the perfect dog for me. She e-mailed me picture, but I felt no pull at my heart strings.

But wait a second… that dog… I had seen her before! It was the same dog I had passed over months ago. I figured that fate kept putting this dog in front of me, so at the very least I should go and meet her. I loaded up the pack and set off to meet this little dog. And the rest, as they say, is history. That was four years ago, and Belle has been my constant companion ever since.

It turns out that my initial shunning of Belle is part of a larger problem called “Black Dog Syndrome.” Black Dog Syndrome refers to dogs in shelters being passed over because of their color. Theories abound about why black dogs are left to linger longer in shelters than their lighter colored counterparts.

Belle’s story is a perfect example of black dog syndrome. She waited for six months in a shelter before she found her forever home. In all that time, there was only one other family that inquired about her. Belle is a sweetheart of a dog, with so much love to give. She truly is an amazing dog, and I am so happy I finally went to meet her!

Join me next week, when I’ll continue to explore Black Dog Syndrome and why it’s such an issue in shelters.

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!

More by Kevin Roberts