Monday, February 28, 2011

Black Dogs

We recently adopted a rescue puppy. Her name is Harper, and she's 99% black lab and a joy to our lives. Her bounce and doe-eye adoration has won over even my husband, who was against the idea of adopting a dog when we still have a 15-year-old blind and deaf dachshund in the house. Laughter comes more easily under this roof, thanks to this sweet puppy.

Harper is jet black. Beautiful. However, when we were in the process of adopting her, the manager of the shelter sought us out in the crowd adopting a slew of dogs that day. She thanked us over and over for adopting a black dog.


She said that if they had 50 dogs come in, and only 10 were black, the other 40 would be adopted before the 10. We didn't believe her. She told us to look around and see. Sure enough. She had more black dogs than all the other colors combined, and all the adoptive parents were holding gray, gold and tan dogs. We were the only exception. Made me want to go back and grab two or three more black dogs.

That revelation means there's a story there, even a marketing opportunity. The remarkable storyteller and the successful marketer have something in common. They see what others don't. They venture into areas others have passed up. They cover ground others fear to tread.

When we see someone become popular using a simple logic or concept, we shake our heads and wonder why we didn't think of that. The simple ideas are often the most obvious, and usually the most successful because they resonate with everyone.

Opportunity surrounds us. Those who hone a keen eye for it, often find the nugget. From now on, I'll only adopt black dogs, just to do my part. Many others would do the same, once presented with the obvious. Imagine if someone tapped that emotional outlet and created black dog products, wrote a story about black dogs, or started a campaign to save black dogs. Just saying...little openings like that happen everyday, and the shrewd and savvy pounce on it and spin black into gold.


lexcade said...

i've actually read about the whole black dog thing, and i *think* it's because they "look more aggressive" than other dogs or something. breeds like Dobermans, Rottweilers, and even labs don't get adopted as fast as their lighter-colored brothers and sisters because of that. i think there actually is an advocacy group for them because they'll get euthanized faster than other dogs.

BTW, Harper is BEAUTIFUL. That little face is just so sweet. Thank you for adopting her.

BECKY said...

Great post, Hope! And what a sweetie your new puppy is...and feeling a little sorry for the poor little older guy, too. We've only had 2 dogs during our 28 year marriage. Got the first one as a puppy when we first married. He lived to be 14 years old. A month after we lost him, we got a 6 month old female from the local shelter. She lived to be almost 14 years old, too. They had a few things in common. They were both large, black dogs, with just touches of light brown on their legs, paws and "eye brows". We'd never heard about the problem of people not wanting black dogs until just a couple of years ago. And we were like you...."Huh?" I think your idea of marketing black dog products is fantastic! When I'm over my sadness of saying goodbye to my Tiger Gal, I'm sure I'll be looking at black dogs again, too.

Unknown said...

I grew up with a black lab and she was the sweetest thing ever! You're going to be happy with your adoption choice! And to be honest, I have a preference for black dogs! =)

Sioux Roslawski said...

One Humane Society has an "Adopt a Black Dog" month, where people who adopt black dogs get a discount.

I loved the connection you made between your experience and writing.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Love this! Very clever way of thinking about it, Hope! And kudos to you for the adoption! (we adopted a white dog. did not know about the black thing - but I have owned many black sled dogs over the years)
The karma is coming around for you soon.

Julia Munroe Martin said...

As the "mom" to a black lab, I loved this blog posting -- you pulled me in and then gave me a greatly useful reminder about my writing, too. Thank you!

Here's a website you might want to check out (an artist -- no benefit to me! -- who has some cute black lab artwork. We found his art when we were in Middlebury, VT, where our son went to college). Thought you and Harper might enjoy it!

Jenn Crowell said...

I adore black dogs. Make it my policy to have one in my household at all times. (And I just adopted a shelter one, too -- a sweetie of a black-and-tan longhaired dachshund from a puppy mill. My 12-year-old dachshund isn't particularly impressed, but they're getting on well enough.)

Kelli said...

Dear Hope,

Great post! I love how you made the connection between writing and the sad fate that black dogs suffer. More proof that "hmmm, I never thought of it that way" is often the way to go when it comes to writing!

ps - black shelter cats have the same problem (often overlooked for adoptions). Another story idea!

Anonymous said...

What a cute puppy, Hope!

I've worked in dog rescue for a few years now, but before I did, I had no clue about the black dog phenomenon. It made no sense to me. I've also heard from rescue friends that brindle dogs are even more difficult to get adopted than black dogs. So, let's all adopt black and brindle dogs! :-)

Julie Flanders said...

What a beautiful puppy! I have a black dog too, and was so surprised when I learned of the black dog "stigma," I couldn't believe it. My black mutt is the greatest dog in the world, I'm glad every day that I adopted him.

Thanks for this great post, it's definitely food for thought!

Unknown said...

Wow! I had absolutely no idea. Having grown up with a black puppy dog, I gravitate towards black dogs. I'm really surprised to learn most people don't. Thanks so much for the reminder that the writing life is often about noticing what others don't.

Monica Manning said...

We have a black retired racing greyhound. Because he is black, many people are intimidated by his size. Pointless, since the worst thing he'll do is lick you to death. And if that doesn't kill you, his breath will!

Congratulations on the new addition to your family!

Carol J. Alexander said...

What a cool twist on this info, Hope. Just thought you'd be interested, we adopted a black puppy just last week :). He's a cutie.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks to everyone who has shown an interest in black dogs. Funny, I've always had black dogs. They seemed smarter to me, for some reason. I prefer dark hair on furniture than white, too. (I once had a white cat.)

But the writing connection was important, and I'm glad so many of you appreciated it.

This is the most popular post! Can you believe it? Everyone loves animals.

Vicki said...

Enjoy your new puppy. It is sad about the black dog predjuice but it has been around for years. People are more afraid of black dogs for whatever reason. It is a shame that beautiful dogs in shelters have to languish there just because of their color.

Anonymous said...

Yikes - I've had a black lab mix and still have a black-with-speckles pix (pit mix - I think she's adorable. Sweet blunt face and half-flop ears. Teeth like a gator, but she doesn't know that)
And my Best Cat Ever, darling Foo, was black. He was so intelligent and mischievous. I miss Foo.

Maybe writers gravitate to black pets?