Friday, February 1, 2013

My Experiences with Black Dog Syndrome

I posted in my very first blog about a phenomenon known as "Black Dog Syndrome." People typically fear black dogs more than any other color due to superstition, and these dogs become more difficult to adopt out of shelters. The fear of black dogs only increases with the dog's size.

I, however, am quite immune to Black Dog Syndrome. I have always loved black dogs the most, and was so driven to keep Apple because he was black, due to my love of the color, and knowing that others might be less willing to take him in.

Being that Black Dog Syndrome exists, it should come as no surprise that sometimes my sweet, lovable dog actually incites fear in some people. While I should expect this, it still doesn't make it hurt any less when people freeze in their tracks in cold-blooded fear or cower away from my dog when they see him coming near. 

This happens with both adults and children. Usually, the adults even have other dogs, which is what I find so ridiculous. They obviously aren't afraid of dogs, but they are afraid of my dog! When Apple is on a leash and sees another dog, it makes him completely miserable. Apple lives to play with other dogs. So, naturally, when we have to go into a crowded area on a leash (mostly Emancipet) Apple barks a lot. And because people see this big, black dog barking on a leash, they automatically assume he's vicious, when in reality, his heart is bleeding at having to stay still around so many other great dogs. When we walk near people in the waiting room, there are literally women who will squirm in their seats to get away from him.

 It also really breaks my heart when small children are afraid of Apple. I understand that I shouldn't get upset about it, but Apple is SO GREAT with children that I hate to see them react negatively to him. Apple is very curious about 2-4 year olds and he is very gentle with them. I love seeing him play with little kids that have a large dog in their home at the park. But, most children do not react this way. There are kids in our apartment complex that will actually scream if we come near them. There used to be two kids who would yell "STAY AWAY!" at Apple when we were walking him on a leash even though we were a good distance away.

But, yesterday's encounter really took the cake. Steven and I were taking Apple on a leashed walk to get the mail. After we picked it up, we noticed there were legal documents for a former resident, so I brought them to the office. The mailman was in the office and after I turned in the letter, he walked out ahead of me. He opened the door and froze as if he had seen a ghost. Or, maybe, this is what he saw:

I looked to see what horrible thing was happening outside, but it was just Steven with Apple. Apple was obediently sitting on the ground and waiting patiently. Steven said he perked up when the man opened the door, but he didn't leave his sitting position.

Apple barked only once, because everyone was staring at him and the man probably looked really strange.

I told the mailman that Apple was okay and wasn't going to hurt him, and to that, he sarcastically responded, 

"Yeah, he looks REALLY okay." 

WHY? Because he's black? Because he's big? He's literally JUST SITTING THERE! HE ISN'T DOING ANYTHING!

The mailman decided to hide inside until we left. We didn't say anything to him, but Steven and I were both very offended, not because he was afraid of our dog, but because he had the nerve to say that he looked dangerous when he wasn't doing anything wrong.

Apple is a sweet dog, and I'm not just saying that because he's mine. He has some puppy issues that we have been working on but aggression IS NOT ONE OF THEM. It never was and it never will be. All he wants to do is make friends and make people happy, and that's why it hurts so much when people are afraid of him.

I just want to be your friend!

How could you be afraid of anything that snuggles with a blue blanket?


  1. I had no idea there was such a syndrome that even existed. I think black dogs are just as beautiful as any other dog. I guess I could somewhat understand if your dog was not on a leash and looked as scary as the dogs you posted first in the blog. That I would get. But your dog is so adorable! And NOT threatening. Maybe the mailman is just afraid of dogs in general? Who knows. But regardless, his response was unwarranted. I like that you're making a blog about all of this. It makes me excited to adopt a dog (sooner than later!). So thanks for sharing your experiences. I might just adopt a black dog now! :)

  2. Thanks Emily! Yeah, the mailman is probably afraid of all dogs, but what made me mad was that he was judging my dog based solely on how he looked! I am excited that you are excited about my blog and getting a dog! That is really awesome :D