Friday, December 2, 2011

Black beauty

Shelter dogs walk a lonely road. 

Adoption is their only ticket out of the shelter for good. 

However, in a world where supply of dogs is great and demand measly, being the chosen one and finding a new home is like winning the lottery. 

Almost 95% of our dogs are of mixed breed. All of them are no longer puppies. Most of them are medium to large sized. 

All of the above make their odds of winning the lottery even slimmer and more distant than ever. 

Wait... Let's not forget that in addition to the above, about one quarter of our dogs also have black coats. This reduces their chance of being the grand prize winner to... almost nothing. 

This is the black dog syndrome for you. 

A quick search on Google will inform you that black dogs are often the most overlooked creatures in shelters all around the world. 

Black dogs are often portrayed in books and movies as fierce, dangerous creatures. Just think, whenever there is a need for a canine extra for the role of a snarling guard dog, isn't it almost always a large black dog? 

Other more superstitious people find the colour black to denote bad luck or misfortune. Just like it is deemed unlucky to meet a black cat along your path, the same principle applies when it comes to adopting a black dog.

Shelter workers in some parts of the US note that as a result of their black coats, black dogs do not stand out against the dull background of the kennels. Extra effort is taken to decorate the compounds of black dogs to catch the attention of would-be adopters. 

And this is also the reason why we are writing this very entry today. This is our extra effort to help garner more attention and change the odds for our little furry friends with their own black coats. 

Wee calls them our Black Knights. I like to think of them as our Black Beauties. Whatever the term used, we need to let you know that the myths and beliefs about black dogs couldn't be further from the truth. 

What better way to dispel the myths about black dogs than using our very own as real life examples?

This is Dyana, smiley face and all.

She is the resident kisser at Gentle Paws. She loves to look at you straight in the eyes, then lean forward to give you a big wet lick on the lips. And let me warn you, once she starts, she can't stop! Dyana loves human company, she is easy to walk and she has the sweetest temperament. 

Here she is, together with Wee, looking ever so happy as the poster girl for our adoption drive this year.

Next we have Diya, who in my opinion is one of the smartest dogs at the shelter. She can sit, lie down and crawl on command. 

Teaching the dogs to sit is usually easily accomplished. But getting them to learn anything more is usually an uphill task. The lack of continuity of training in the shelter environment is a stumbling block towards achieving anything more. The fact that Diya has mastered the tricks in spite of her environment is proof of just how bright she is.

Diya gets along well with both humans and other dogs. In fact, Wee informed us that it was Diya who helped integrate Duchess, one of our newcomers, into the pack by jostling with her and getting her to play. 

Next up is Donna, who was adopted as a puppy and then returned to the shelter when she was about one. Yes, this means that Donna is house trained and quite adoptable. 

Don't be mistaken. Donna wasn't thrown back to us because of any behavioural problems. You should know that Donna is very much a loving girl, who seeks to please. She loves human affection and company. Her young adopter gave her up because of a family dispute.

To have experienced the taste of a home can make shelter life so much more unbearable. However, Donna took it all in her stride. In true doggie spirit, she adapted to shelter life quickly enough and is a joy to have around. 

Next on the list is Dexter. Dexter is calm and quiet most of the time... until he sees something that piques his curiosity, like a butterfly or a bird. His ears prick, his eyes light up and he starts running around trying to track down the poor creature. 

Dexter loves his walks. He gets so excited he will tug a lot on his leash until he gets so exhausted he can't help but flop down on the ground for a rest. That is classic Dexter and something that never fails to happen on his walks! 

And then there is Daryl, who was so intimidated as a puppy he started becoming insecure and frightened. However, we recently switched around their kennels and put him with a pack of milder dogs. 

This has proved effective because Daryl has started to come out of his shell. He is quite the big boss in his new area now! 

Finally, there is Dribble, with his long black coat and heart shaped orange face.

The rest of the regulars often laugh at Dribble for being the Adam Lambert of Gentle Paws. Just look at his badly drawn eye liner, they would tease. 

Dribble Loves his walks, spelled with a capital L to justify the extent of his love. He never tires of going for walks to explore the world outside the shelter. Whenever I so much as stand up and head for the gate, Dribble rushes to the gate as well and looks up at me with expectant eyes, beseeching me to take him along.

These are 6 wonderful dogs of not more than 3 years old in need of a home. 

In terms of health, in terms of age, in terms of temperament, each and every one of these 6 dogs are perfect candidates for adoption.

But no one has ever spared them so much as a glance when considering adoption. 

With the exception of Dribble who was brought back for a home stay once and returned because he cried constantly when made to stay in the garden, none of the dogs above have even been offered the chance of a trial home stay.

Could it be the black dog syndrome at work? 

We don't know. 

Will it ever be their turn to strike it big in the jackpot that is adoption?

Beneath their black coats and mixed breed, each one of them is a tender hearted dog with a lot of love to give.

We urge you to pause a moment, take a second look and help change the odds that are stacked so high against these beautiful dogs.

The Gentle Paws Adoption Drive 2011 will be held on 10 and 11 December, from 10AM to 5PM. If you are thinking of adoption, please do think of them!

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