Cassidy and Sundance are my two big, black dogs. They are six and they have lived with me all of their lives. They did not come from a shelter. They came, together, from a home in Kentucky. They were "an accident", but they needed a home because their family could not keep them. I met them when they were 10 weeks old and decided that I would not take one without the other. With me, no matter what, they would have a forever home.
They are six and wherever there is one, there is the other. When they first came to live with me, someone told me that they would be mean dogs because black dogs are mean. I was told that I had made a big mistake. I told them that thinking that a fur color would make dogs mean was just about the dumbest thing that I had ever heard. That person told me that I would be sorry. I have never been sorry. Cassidy and Sundance have been gifts to me.
Cassidy is particularly good with children and with giving hugs. I have a three year old niece who loves to play with Cassidy, throwing balls to her, hugging her, and "petting her nicely." Cassidy is sometime afraid of things, paper bags, boxes and my blow dryer, yet she will overcome her fear of the blow dryer to come over me as I dry my hair, and press her whole body against my legs so that I will pet her. It is my favorite time of my morning routine. It is our special time.
Sundance is my special needs dog. She was born with severe hip dysplasia and even worse spinal spondylosis. When Sundance was four, she started to limp. That was when I found out about her condition. Her "bone specialist" said he couldn't quite figure out how she was managing to walk since her hip joints were almost gone. He said that she was a miracle. I wanted to get her hips replaced, but he said that her spine was so bad that it wouldn't make sense for me to do that. He told me that if we were lucky, she might have three years left. Pretty soon, he said, the bad days would outnumber the good ones, and all that I could do was manage her pain. I was devastated. Sundance was not.
We are more than two years now into our "three years left." We have only had seven bad days in those two years. Despite the fact that it is a little harder to get into the car and our walks don't last as long, Sundance keeps going strong. I think that I know what her secret is... she has joy of life.
If you look at the picture of my two "big girls" (combined they weigh 164lbs) they are both smiling. Sundance (on the left) though, has the really big smile. She smiles all of the time. When I have a bad day, I just look at her and she makes me laugh with that big smile. She is a goofball.
When it is time to go outside, she gallops through the house to be the first to the back door. When it is time to play ball, she comes running, ball in mouth, ready to play. When we go for walks, she gallops down the street with me and her sister in tow. She smiles the whole time that we walk. Even when she gets tired and it is time to go home she is smiling. She loves to ride in the car and when we take long rides, she will put her head on my shoulder once in a while, just to let me know that she is still there in the back seat, smiling at every car that we pass.
Sundance's favorite place to sleep is on my bed. And while she does not do it every day, once in a while she summons the "umph" that it takes to get up there while I am asleep. When I wake up, she is smiling, clearly proud of herself for managing to get up there without help.
And while she is a very loving dog who loves to have her belly rubbed, she is also our protector. She always lets me know when somone is on the porch or in the yard. She keeps us safe. That is her job and she takes it seriously. After she barks a coulple of time, she always looks at me waiting for me to tell her that she did a good job. And she's smiling.
Do I think that her body hurts? Yes, all of the time, although, she is not one to complain. She loves her life. I do everything I can to make it a good life and to make it last as long as it can. When it comes time to make that last journey, I will be there for her. It is the least that I can do to repay her all of the joy that she has given to me.
I am glad that I did not listen to the rumors about big, black dogs. Someday, when the time comes, I will adopt another big, black dog. If I come across two, who are family or best friends, then I again will take them both. Perhaps they too will smile.
"Contrary to Ordinary"
The Black Pearls of the Dog World
~Making a difference: one black dog at a time through education, awareness and action~
March 31st, 2005: I just recently joined a rescue group, and am about to send my first foster on to his forever home, where he will become a therapy dog. I was scouring petfinder, searching for another dog to foster, when I happened upon Dallas, a 9 yr old black lab male. I knew the odds of him being adopted were slim, so I looked a little closer. He was an owner surrender, well behaved, but "not good with children". I thought about him ... did I want to bring a foster into my home, knowing that he would probably not be adopted and that I would then be unable to save more "wanted" dogs? I thought more... and finally emailed the shelter he was in. Apparently, "not good with children" meant that he didn't want to play enough. Okay, could he be neutered... yes, but not there...was he okay around cats... yes, they thought so... the emails went back and forth. As I was preparing to make the final decision to take him, I received a message... no need to worry about Dallas; he had been euthanized... but did I want to help another?
Apparently, there is a long list of anonymous black dogs out there, and they are interchangeable, lost and without hope. I was just shocked... I don't blame the shelter; they have to make room, because our family pets are becoming like everything else in our society, disposable: "get a new and better one when they get a little older" or "don't fit our lifestyle" any longer. I lit a candle for Dallas, and I vowed to not hesitate. I look down at my current foster... he's one less starfish on the beach, and there will be others. But I still think of Dallas, who died alone, because his family abandoned him, and I sure wasn't fast enough. ~Annette K.
Webmasters note: Thank you Annette for your reminder to make clear decisions but not to hesitate. Not only do we as a society think "all is disposable" but we also don't want to leave our comfort zones when help is needed. Blackpearldogs commends you for committing to Dallas even in his sunset moments and for lighting his candle. He may not have died in vain: as he is no longer apart of the endless list of anonymous black dogs who have passed alone. His light with glow vibrantly here to make the path brighter for those seasoned or young black dogs that wait patiently to be loved again and may we never never hesitate on their behalf.
April 2nd, 2005: When I stopped at the Golden Valley Humane Society eight years ago, it was just because a friend who lives nearby had forgotten a coffee date. Since I was on that side of town anyway, I decided to stop at the shelter and pet the dogs and cats and tell them how good they were so they heard it at least once that day.
When I got there, I looked at the puppies, washed my hands and went back to the big dogs. The kennels were full and, besides about twelve other dogs, there were about eight black dogs, who all got petted or had ear rubs. About halfway down the kennel, there was a black GSD and Doberman mix who had the saddest eyes I'd seen in some time. I petted him, said his name and what a good boy he was and noted that he'd already been there for almost six weeks. When I stood to leave, he sat back on his haunches and put both of his front feet on the kennel gate. Who could just leave, then? He was a sweet guy so I thought I would ask to take him to the exercise yard, just for a chance for him to get out a bit.
I already had two dogs and four children so I was not searching for another companion. The volunteer who clipped on his leash told me that she was glad that someone was looking at him, he was such a sweet dog. I assured her that I was just taking him out for some exercise, I wasn't looking for a dog. About halfway to the door, there was a group of young women looking at a cocker mix. One of them was wearing a skirt and was reading the card on the cocker's kennel door, leaning with her hands on her knees. As the older volunteer and Rudy walked by, he stuck his nose up the back of her skirt and then moved on. She yelped, put her hand on her chest and looked like a startled lemur when she straightened up! I covered my mouth with my hand but I giggled and snorted all the way outside.
After we played I put down 'hold' money on him, came and collected him the next day. While we were throwing ourselves on the mercy of the court (my husband), Rudy sat down next to him and laid his head on my husband's knee. They are now walking buddies on all of the good weather days. Although Rudy had some adjustments to make, he adapted pretty quickly and fit right in. Did we need another dog? Absolutely not, at least not then. But when I looked at him then, as now, I knew that he was my honey boy. He lays on the bed next to anyone who is feeling punk. He knows how to watch every move to see if someone tying their shoes, which is really a foreplay ending up with him going for a walk. He knows that when my daughter leaves the house at 8:30 a.m. for the bus: he gets breakfast in the laundry room and stands by his food dish. He has placed himself between me and an advancing dog, hackles raised and a menacing look which stopped "Junior" from a closer encounter.
I have silly names for Rudy :Tooty, Tootser, McDootser, Tooty Pie and Rudith. No one else calls him these and my husband and son are indignant when I call him something especially goofy. But I love my big black dog so much I've mentioned him in my will. When I go, I want Rudy's ashes laid down next to me, so I have this once in a lifetime friend with me for the last walk.
~Kelli Conlow Malone, Rudy's friend!
Webmasters note: "Life Metaphor" is described as: the view of life that you hold which determines how your life works. For instance, if you view life as a marathon you value endurance. Kelli and Rudy share one of the most beautiful life metaphors of all: commitment. Life for them is about looking into each others eyes (how they met) then their hearts (their life together) and knowing there is a sanctuary of "forever more" in each others care that so many black dogs never get to feel deep in their soul. How fortunate for us to meet you both through your story as you are truly inspirational. May every Rudy find a Kelli and may every Kelli find a Rudy.
THE OLD MAN AND HIS DOG
"Watch out! You nearly broad-sided that car!" My father yelled at me. "Can't you do anything right?" Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn'tprepared for another battle. "I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving." My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt. Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back.
At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him? Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess. The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.
Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone. My husband, Rick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.
Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Rick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Rick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind. But the months wore on and God was silent. A raindrop struck my cheek. I looked up into the gray sky. Somewhere up there was "God." Although I believe a Supreme Being had created the universe, I had difficulty believing that God cared about the tiny human beings on this earth. I was tired of waiting for a God who did not answer. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it. The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem in vain to each of the sympathetic voices that answered. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article."
I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog. I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs - all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons, too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down.
It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly. I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?" The officer looked, and then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly. As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?" "Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog." I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. "I'll take him," I said.
I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch. "Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly. Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it." Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house. Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!" Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.
Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal. It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet. Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends.
Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Rick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene; but his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night. Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Rick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.
The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers..." "I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said. For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article...Cheyenne's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter. His calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father...and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.
Webmasters note: This arrived without an author to credit. Not that we encourage "surprise" dog adoptions.... yet, truly Cheyenne's story of a patient, humble and unconditional nature is prove positive that all dogs have a place regardless of their age or conformation. These outward factors have no bearing on their pure hearts which is what all dogs aim to give in life. A legacy many humans have yet to figure out how to fulfill. Cheyenne was an exceptional mentor. Exceptional indeed.
Friday night, Memorial Day weekend, 2005.
Big things happening in Rescue this weekend. At least, we thought they were. We were contacted by a shelter on Thursday, asked if we could possibly help an 88 lb male lab. He was slated for death today. We worked it out. Unfortunately, I could not get to him. No kennels available to board him - they are full, and this boy has no shots. NO one wants him. We do want him. But it's a holiday - people are out of town, or with family... we can take him on Tuesday - PLEASE hold him until then - we can board him that day, we'll pay the fees. But there is no one to drive until that day... you called us, and we are answering... but the pups from Missouri need a ride, too, to avoid their fate... the inns are full for just 2 days more.
But they will not hold him. They cannot keep him. His time is up. And another one will not make it out of the shelter. The place that is supposed to keep him safe, to help him on to the next stage of his journey just doesn't have room, and his time is up.
You see, it's Memorial Day weekend. And being new to rescue, I've only just discovered that this is the prime dumping season. Many dogs are discarded this holiday weekend every year. The dogs aren't fun anymore. Now they are an inconvenient nuisance. The kids are out of school, and it's time to travel, and they're too big, or they got pregnant, or they run and they dig, and we have no time anymore. No time to keep the promises made to love, play, teach, and care for these dogs who we invited into our lives. Take them to the shelter... or just let them loose along some lonely road. Someone will take care of them. Someone else will do it.
Well, I'm supposed to be that someone. And I cannot get to the big dog with no name that won't see Memorial Day. That's okay, though, isn't it? There are plenty of other ones that need someone to take them in, too.
It's almost midnight... the pups are due to arrive via the "railroad", those people who anonymously transport the unwanteds to safe places, where they will be given love, good food, and haven until their forever family finds them. And while I'm tending to them, making sure they are warm and comfortable and have toys to play with and food to eat, I'll be thinking about that big boy... and why I couldn't get to him. And why they could not wait just 2 days, just 48 hours... that's all he needs, and we will take him. Just 2 days. ~Annette~
Webmasters note: Annette, there are no more words to be said. We light his light here. May it shine brightly, ever so brightly. Thank you. Thank you for being there to write his story.
My name is Cinder. I'm a MBD (medium black dog). I'm about 5 years old and I'm a rescued dog. I would like to share my story with you.
My "old" family left me at the shelter when they moved out of state. I was very scared and sad. I kept looking for them to come back and get me but they never did.
I'm a black dog and a chow mix--2 strikes against me. In general, black dogs are overlooked while chows/chow mixes don't "show" well: we don't deal well with shelter life.
One day (Sept 3, 2003) a lady came to the shelter~she walked up and down the rows looking at the dogs. She was looking for an Aussie (Australian Shepherd), she had Aussies in the past. I was in the last row. When she walked by me I would speak to her (heart). She walked by my kennel 2-3 times, each time I spoke to her. Finally, an animal care attendant came to my kennel and we went out in the yard. I didn't know the lady, I totally ignored her, I was really bonded with the attendant. The lady spoke with the attendant and I heard the attendant say "If you choose "Chubs" (that was may old name), she will be bond with you". They spoke some more and I was put back in my kennel. The lady came back one more time, she told me I was going to be living with her and my new name would be Cinder, for Cinderella. **It's a good thing the lady came to the shelter that day, I was on "death row". I wasn't coping well with shelter life. This was told to Susan, 2 years later.**
The lady that adopted me is my "mom" Susan. She was so excited to have me. She had food, treats, bowls, toys and a nice bed waiting for me when I came home from the vet (I was spayed). A purple leash and collar too! Purple looks fabulous on black dogs!!
She gave me a second chance and I have used it well. I have shown her that Aussies aren't the only dogs around. (They're great dogs, but us "underdogs" are great too!) Chow mixes might be leary of strangers, a bit possessive and a little aloof. But we REALLY love our "parents". I'm there for her when she comes home from work late at night, I wake her up in the morning with my wet kisses and I let her know when people are near our door. I have also re-awakend, in my mom, a desire to help and volunteer. Susan volunteers at the shelter where I "found" her and she went to school to become a Vet Asst. She is involved at our dog park and the best thing of all--Susan will talk to anybody (that will listen) about rescued dogs!!! I also have a "sister", Demby who is a MBD (chow mix too) that Susan sponsors in a rescue group in Mississippi.
We have many friends that have rescued dogs and one friend that is a rescuer. We have met wonderful people and gone to many interesting places. My whole life has changed now that I've been socialized and get to experience new things. (I don't really remember much of my "old" life, but I think I spent alot of time stuck in a yard.)
The best thing about my "new" life ---THE BEACH!!! I really, really LOVE the beach. I was scared of the waves the first couple of times I went. Now I race Richard "my dad" to the water, I always win! Richard and I play ball, while Susan walks with us. They watch the surfers, I dig a hole. Sometimes, I see tears of happiness in my mom's eyes. She loves to see me happy. I'm the most happiest when the three of us-Susan, Richard & I are together. After a day at the beach we have a snack (I get Frosty Paws) or we go to dinner. What a Great Day!
I'm very grateful Susan went to the shelter that day and I know she's grateful she did!!
Thanks for listening to my story--it's on-going, more exciting experiences to come, I can't wait--LIFE IS GOOD!!
Webmasters Note: Dear Cinder, thank you for sharing your memoir’s and welcome to the on-going and neverending story of when love brings you home. I know that you and your mom Susan and your dad Richard are being the ultimate ambassadors in your neighborhood for the "black dog challenge" by your living example. You give such inspiration for others to join in on life, rescue and adoption. BTW love the acronym MBD. Great job. Hugs to you and yours and delighted we are teammates to spread the word. It takes a village........ Tamara and Jake
"Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an emptiness we don't even know we have".
I've always loved big, shaggy dogs and with two wolfhounds already at home some would say I should have already satisfied that love. But in October 2003 something brought me to Petfinder and as I paged through all the big, shaggy breeds available I came across a "Scottish Deerhound mix" listed at a rescue in Connecticut. At approximatley eight months old she was a big, goofy, 55 pound, black puppy with a beard. I got in touch with the rescue and was informed that she had originally been purchased from a shopping cart full of puppies at a flea market and then shortly thereafter turned in to a local kill shelter. She somehow caught the eye of what was normally a small dog rescue group and ended up in the rescue as a large, but still underweight, puppy with mange and a bad case of fleas.
I loaded up the car with Bridie, my older and slightly cantankerous, wolf hound and we headed out on the two hour drive to the rescue to see how Fionna would fit in with our family. As we drove up the driveway of the foster home I saw the foster mom with Fionna waiting for us. After a brief introduction she let Fionna off the leash and Fionna exploded. She ran and ran and ran and ran. In and out of the lake. Over the hills and down the dock. All that energy in that big body. But the smile on her face! It was as if she knew we were her forever family.
The first few months were full of typical puppy antics and learning. It soon became clear that Fionna was a true "people dog". She loves people. Her tail wags, her smile widens and her eyes sparkle whenever she meets someone new. I quickly signed her up for Therapy Dog training and she has been visiting children in the hospital every since. The children love her charm and her playfulness. The hospital is the only place where she will willingly give back a tennis ball.
I'll never understand why someone gave Fionna up. Was she too big? Too black? Too active? Was it the mange? or the fleas? All I can say is I'm glad we found each other and that she joined our family. She is my Pretty Pretty Fifi and she makes me laugh every day.
Webmasters note: Oh Fionna, Helen Thomson said "Inside every Newfoundland, Boxer, Deerhound and Great Dane is a puppy longing to climb on to your lap"...my dear, you not only climb onto laps with your joyously jestering personality you climb into the hearts of those who need their heart filled with what a real laugh sounds like...a pretty pretty Fifi laugh of love unconditional, life for giving. Thank you for being a pearl through and through and thank you to Catherine for seeing your transparent love, straight from everything goofy that makes you- a special team unparalled. From shopping cart to therapy smart Fionna, a most beautiful black pearl undeniably.
(Click on Jake!! He will take you home)
Cassidy and Sundance
Webmasters note: The power of unconditional love is magnificent and it is what brings so many of us home and makes what some would consider impossible, possible. Yes, you are all miracles. The miracle of love. You are living testaments to what this is all about. Thank you. A fulfilled and contented life full of smiles, each of you. I have no doubts.
My Sadie (www.mysadiedog.com) is a shy, very submissive, mixed breed. I adopted her from a shelter when she was about 1 year old. She is all black with a white spot on her chest. She is tall but thin, just 35lbs, with a greyhound-shaped body so my guess is she is part black lab, part whippet. Her personality matches what I have read about whippets - neurotic couch potatoes inside, tireless small animal chasers outside. Always ready to sit and watch tv or go outside and explore, Sadie has been the perfect companion for me (I admit to being slightly neurotic myself, so we understand each other). The past 12 years with Sadie have been quite an adventure from her wild youth to her more mellow senior years.
Because Sadie is all black, very quiet, and extremely anxious there have been several times when she went missing and I thought I lost her forever. Fortunately during my childhood I learned from my mother that a noisy collar on a black dog was a good idea, so I had a tiny cow bell on Sadie's collar. With the bell on I could hear her at night when I could not see her. (Dog tags proved unreliable. She kept losing them if they dangled, how I don't know!)
One day Sadie, aka Houdini Dog, escaped from the yard. It was a freezing winter night when I found her 8 hours later in a lagoon. Fortunately the water level was low enough that she was on dry ground, but the high walls trapped her there. I had passed the spot several times calling for her but she never made a sound. Eventually she was shivering so much her bell shook. I heard a faint ringing, looked in the lagoon, and through the dark saw a little patch of white fur shaking.
It is almost guaranteed that during a thunderstorm or fireworks Sadie will go missing. Usually she is easy to find, I just open the shower curtain and there she is quivering in the tub. Since the tub is usually a spot she dreads I sometimes take advantage of a thunderstorm and bathe her during it.
It is more difficult when Sadie does not choose the tub and I end up frantically running around the house searching for her. During one storm she hid in the laundry room. In all fairness she wasn't really hiding she just sat in the middle of the small room but because it was dark I ran back and forth glancing into the room several times without seeing her. I guess I should have relaxed and conducted a better search but who can relax when their dog is missing?
The cutest hiding spot she found was in a corner of my closet. I had searched the closet several times, with the light on, but never found her. Finally my husband spotted her snout. I had to get down on my hands and knees to finally see her and still I could not believe she fit into such a small spot. I suppose had I kept my closet floor free of clothes I would have found her sooner.
After 12 years of togetherness I worry less about where Sadie is and what trouble she may be in. Most of the time she is sleeping in one of her several beds. When outside she no longer tries to roam. She loves to sit in the yard, guarding the house from feral cats in the neighborhood. If they enter the yard (and she sees them), she chases them but not far. I like to think she now accepts the boundaries of the yard but more likely it is her body that is setting the boundaries. When it's time for her to come in I just call out her name and then listen for her jingle. It's the happiest sound in the world.
Webmasters note: Visit Sadie at her site. This is a great site filled with heartfelt and funny, wonderous adventures. Sadie is a star to us all Jenn. Thank you.
As an animal health technology student I see too many unwanted animals. My program provides general veterinary care, spays and castrations to animals at the local SPCA and county pound. Doing this provides a much needed service to shelters that need the help and it helps us students learn to be skilful compassionate technicians. As you can imagine many students fall in love with animals that come through the clinic. Sometimes (ok, quite a few times) this results in a student adopting one of the dogs or cats. This is the way I met my “black pearl” dog.
Gypsy is a medium - large size black dog with a bit of white on her chest and paws. We suspect she is a Labrador Retriever Husky cross, possibly with some American Staffordshire terrier mixed in, but who really knows. Gypsy came in to the clinic to have an exam, vaccines and to be spayed. When I saw her for the first time, something about her stuck in my head. She was not considered “highly adoptable” as aside from being a black dog, she had a poor hair coat, scars, half of one eye is blue and she was out of shape from a litter of puppies. After thinking about her some more I took my fiancée to see her. That was all it took. The paper work was started and the waiting to see if we were approved for ownership began.
I got the call that Gypsy was ours one afternoon after class. My fiancée was at work and did not know we were approved at the time. I was going to wait for him to go pick her up, but was way too excited. I went to get Gypsy and made a promise to her that she will never suffer again and that she will be loved forever. I believe that she understood that she was going somewhere good, as after this promise her nerves about the drive started to calm down.
I brought her home to introduce her to Darby, our Labrador Cattle dog cross. The meeting was less then the instant friendship I was hoping for. Gypsy basically wanted to kill Darby. My fiancée arrived home, excited that we got her, and ready to help with the introductions. It took about two days or so before Gypsy would tolerate Darby. We stuck through the tough times. We made a promise to Gypsy to love her unconditionally and we intended to keep it. It was also evident that Darby wanted Gypsy to like her and to be a part of the family.
We found out more about Gypsy from sources at the shelter and from her scars and behaviors. It seems she was used in dog fights, which was indicated by lots of scaring on her face and ears and by her aggression toward Darby and other dogs. It also was evident she was abused (not surprisingly, unfortunately). She became very upset at any raised voice or quick motion. She has made a lot progress in all areas. Now almost 2 years later Darby and Gypsy are best friends, “sisters” even, and she has even taken to Tipsy, the cat. She also has several other canine friends of all sizes.
We did not adopt Gypsy because she was a “black dog” or because she wasn’t. We adopted her because every animal deserves a kind, loving home, with proper care and we wanted to do our part. All animals should receive our respect. The color of the coat should make no difference. We should be looking past that to find a companion that truly suits us and our life. If we disregard animals because of the color of their hair how can we move forward to accepting different races, creeds, and ethnicities? To quote Gandhi “the moral progress of a nation can be seen by the way it treats its animals”. We adopted Gypsy out of love above all else.
Kirstie Harrigan BSc(Agr.), AHT
Webmasters note: Thank you for this outstanding story. I appreciate you sharing so we can always remember to adopt with our heart as well as our eyes. Darb and Gyps you are a wonderful example of what history has already told us, there are more "examples of the loyalty of dogs and their people than of friends." Alexander Pope 1709
My name is Chloe and I'm from New York where I lived with my family for 10 years (3 vets say I'm 8 years young).
I had many litters of puppies & have a big belly. One day after 8/10 years with my family I was dropped off at a high kill shelter in Long Island, my family said they were moving & packed up everything but me?
I had 3 things against me: I'm a senior citizen, not spayed & a big black dog! Since I had 3 strikes against me the shelter didn't give me much time to get adopted. My two guardian angels, Miss Jo & Miss Nancy found me sitting in my cement cage at the kill shelter. They saw how sad I was & well aware of the fate of seniors/black dogs. Miss Jo & Miss Nancy spend countless hours finding homes for the dogs at the high kill shelters in Long Island. They both volunteer with Labs4Rescue & contacted Miss Ann another angel, could they get me back home?
Miss Ann from Labs4Rescue called a foster for L4R in RI, but she had 3 dogs (one adopted from L4R) and had a black dog coming up from NC to foster & 5 would be too much. I went to live with a real nice foster lady in CT, I was scared & cried all day long, I wanted to go home! Then I got the news I was going to be a "foster to adopt" in RI, did this mean I was going home?. I was "home" only a few weeks when my new foster parents thought I had too many health problems and wanted to give me back? Back to the shelter, back home?
Miss Ann from L4R called their foster in RI (again) & Miss Susan didn't hesitate to pick me up since we were in the same area of RI. So, now I'm really confused, another home, new foster sisters & one brother & my foster mom. My foster mom was so patient with me since I would not budge to go out or get out of the car. I cried & was very sad all the time, I wanted to go home!
I overheard her on the phone with Miss Ann from L4R, she wanted to keep me, she was "smitten" with me, whatever that means :) "What a sweet sweet dog, has not even barked once"! One problem, if she adopted me she could no longer foster since she had 3 other dogs she was taking care of.
Miss Ann from L4R said "Chloe needs a good home and would be thrilled if she joined your family"!
I have a clean bill of health, no medical problems at all & very happy with my new family. I have 2 sisters & 1 brother! I go everywhere with my mom, she calls me the ride-a-round dog!
I am now HOME!
Chloe, or as my mom calls me Chloe Bear!!
Webmasters note: J.R.E. states: "Far more than by his bark a dog communicates through his eyes - from a soulful half-raised eyebrow when denied a special treat to the wide and sparkling 'Yippe! We're going for a walk! ' Perhaps nothing can wretch the heart of a dog lover more than the pitiful, hardly-daring-to-be hopeful gaze of an abandoned dog waiting to be adopted." Congratulations to both Chloe Bear and her rescue family for this beautiful & inspirational uniting of a hopeful dog and her forever people.
An enormous beautiful Newfoundland-black lab mix has had three names since he came to our rescue, Pueblo Collie/Sheltie Rescue of southern Colorado.
But he started out with no name. Here is his story.
During a streak of 100-degree-plus weather in the summer of 2002 a woman was combing the alleys of Pueblo looking for aluminum cans to turn in for cash. She came across a locked metal box and was about to walk away when she heard a whimpering sound coming from inside. Somehow, she got the box open and, to her horror, discovered an emaciated, black dog. She lifted the limp, seemingly lifeless dog from the box, and he wagged his tail. This was a special dog.
The woman, who was going through some hard times herself, then chose to do a noble thing: she called the Pueblo animal shelter for help. Shelter staff
quickly realized they had a special case on their hands, and that this dog was near death. They called Hope Hemperly, director of Pueblo Collie/Sheltie Rescue. No, this dog was not a collie or sheltie, but they knew they could rely upon Hope. Upon one glance at this poor dog, Hope knew the situation was desperate.
She immediately took the dog (whom she dubbed "Bob Dog") to the vet. The vet said that in another 12 hours, the dog would have died. Bob Dog got IV
fluids and a general health check enough to make sure he was safe. Bob-Dog stayed with Hope for a week and then went to a long-term foster home with
Audrey, a stay-at-home mom. "He was about 40 pounds when I got him. He was skin and bones," Audrey recalled. "He was so weak, he couldn't stand. And he couldn't pee right because his hair was so matted. We needed to wait a bit to really get him cleaned up because he was just so fragile. "But his tail was always wagging, even when he couldn't move otherwise. He seemed so happy. (We have read accounts about how rescue dogs KNOW they are being saved, and we think Bob-Dog was an example of that. Not only was he a sweet, gentle spirit, he also appreciated everything being done for him.)
Audrey said it took about 5 months before Bob-Dog was close to normal. She carefully monitored his health, and was very attentive about his feeding schedule. Bob-Dog got 6 cups of prescription diet food a day, divided into five feedings. "He always seemed hungry! Totally understandable!" she said. What amazed Audrey most about Bob-Dog was his personality. He was an upbeat, happy dog who loved her kids and other dogs. He seemed to love life. "If you could not see his condition - how emaciated he was - you would think he came from the happiest place on earth," she said. "He had a smile and a wag for everyone. He was a love-bug!" Once Bob-Dog was deemed healthy and ready for adoption, a home was found for him. You would think that would be the end of the story, but it's not.
In the summer of 2004 Hope got a call from the adoptive family saying they just did not want Bob-Dog anymore. Sometimes adoptions are forever, and
sometimes things just don't click into place. One of the conditions of PC/SR's adoption contract is that dogs MUST be returned to our rescue if the adopter chooses not to keep the dog. This helps us guarantee the safety and future happiness of each dog. Audrey already had a foster dog and was not able to take in Bob-Dog, who by this time was about 100 pounds and overweight. So he went to live with Sheila, a very nurturing foster mom, who could see this confused, quiet,
sweet dog needed love, confidence and exercise. Sheila decided to simply call him "Bob" - but "Velcro-dog" might have worked too. He stuck to her like glue and simply seemed to absorb love like a sponge. Sheila took Bob on daily walks and runs, and he played with her dogs, befriended her cats, slept on her bed and just seemed to melt right into her family. "Gosh, I love this dog," Sheila said. "Although intimidating, he was a gentle giant with a constant wagging tail."
We knew that this adoption needed to stick, and we began a search for the perfect home for Bob. Since our mission is collies and shelties, and folks naturally seek us out for those breeds, we were thrilled when we got an email from a Durango, Colo., family that seemed a good match and had plenty
of love to give to Bob. "The day he went home with his family, I cried-happy tears," Sheila recalled. "I found Bob on the Internet on Petfinder.com," recalls Joan, Bob's new mom. "My husband Mark says it was an internet love affair! Through PC/SR I found a dog that is the perfect fit for our family. How a dog like this could have been through so much and still remained such an angel is beyond belief. It just shows the loyalty and unconditional love of a dog. Bob has so few issues. He is playful, devoted, and very cooperative. I couldn't have found a better dog. He loves to play with toys and he loves to snuggle on the bed. He has just blended in to the family and will be with us forever."
Joan, Mark and their children decided Bob needed yet another name, so he is often referred to his "Big Bobarino." Foster mom Audrey sums up Bob's story well: " I think Bob is a very good example of how dogs have the heart to forgive, trust and love. I'm just glad he's in a wonderful home now. He deserves a family that will give him a good reason to be as happy as he always seemed to be."
Pueblo Collie/Sheltie Rescue was founded in 1979. We helped close to 200 dogs last year -- collies, collie-mixes, shelties, sheltie-mixes as well as dogs of other breeds or mixed-breeds who came before our path and just needed us. So far this year, we are helping just as many dogs and even
rescued 5 cats (including a black one that really needed extra love.)
We support the mission of blackpearldogs.com.
Thank you for all your rescue efforts.
Webmasters note: Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing Bobarino with us. What an astonishing story he shares with you and all involved at the rescue. John Richard Stephens sums it up by speaking these words: " People have a hard time achieving happiness in their lives. They tend to get wrapped up in their own little world. People get confused because they do not know what they need or want, and then depression sets in. Dogs do not have this problem. They know exactly what makes them happy - doing something for someone. They will do everything they can think to please their human companion, and any signs they have been successful make them very happy." Big Bobarino you have demonstrated this clearly above and beyond like no other. Thank you for your gentle spirit and your unconditional forgiveness and love. What a beautiful dog you are, inside and out. Such a gorgeous pearly dog. Hugs big guy. Jennifer adds: "After helping with rescue for the past few years and getting to meet so many dogs, we see dogs who have been through so much suffering, sorrow and loss. It really is imperative for people to know as much about these dogs as they can (from knowing their history and from just observation with the mind and heart), empathize with them and react accordingly. I think that we need to love and give to our pets just as much as they give to us. And we don't have to be "Pet Psychics" to figure all this out... just have a wide open heart." Jennifer, you have stated it perfectly, Thank you again. Continued blessings to you and yours as you stay true to what is right and good.
10 years ago I bought a house in Oakland California.
Two months after I moved in, the day after Thanksgiving, my eight year old nephew, Perry and I went in search of the perfect dog. I had even read "Dogs for Dummies" in preparation. I grew up with a golden retriever, but this would be my first dog, that I was totally responsible for. I thought I would adopt an adult dog, as I had heard they are harder to find a home for.
We went to Berkely and Oakland shelters. Then we went across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and the SF SPCA. Still not finding the "one," we went nextdoor to SF Animal Care and Control. As we were walking through a row of pens, and all the dogs were barking and jumping on their gates, I heard Perry call me over. He said "I think I found him."
There laying on his blanket was a black puppy with a big white cone on. His nametag on the gate was "Conehead." He just laid there with his head resting on his paws - following us with his eyes. No barking, no jumping. We decided to see if we could meet with him in a room... It was love at first meet. He was cautious but once we were all together he warmed up to us. He was about five months old. He had a cone on, to keep from licking a nasty wound on his right back leg. Somehow his back leg had been ripped open. When he was found it was very infected. He was on IV antibiotics for about a week and had been nursed back to health, having spent two weeks in the hospital and then a few more weeks recouperating at the shelter. I knew this was the dog for me. Only one problem. I was due to fly out that Sunday for a three day business trip. I knew I couldn't bring him home unitl I got back. Every day I prayed and then called to see if he was still there.
On December 4th, 1997, I went to get him. I couldn't bear the thought that I would lose him, but I had to go to southern California too that week. So I arranged to have him boarded at VCA Pet Clinic for a night, so I could adopt him before I went to LA. When I got to the Clinic that evening to check him in they asked me what his name was….What was his name? It certainly was not Conehead! I looked at him sitting beside me and said, how about Scout - I swear he thumped his tail and looked at me….Yep- that's it. The next day was the longest day….and it seemed like the plane would never land. I finally got to the clinic and the Vet asked to me wait in an exam room, she wanted to talk to me. My heart was in my throat… was something wrong. She brought Scout into the exam room with a baggy….she wanted to give me as a keepsake his first milkteeth that had come out that morgning. We went directly to Pet Express and got a new collar, leash, bed and food.
From the moment I brought him in the house he followed me all around. His first night in his new home, when I said it was time to go to bed, he climbed onto his new bed, right next to my bed, curled up and went to sleep. He did not move the whole night. Scout and I became inseperable….except for when I had to go to work. On the weekends we would go exploring around the bay area. Scout loved to swim. Loved to go for walks. Loved to just hang out in the kitchen when I was cooking or baking. When I worked from home he would snooze under my desk and keep my feet warm. Scout grew up to be about 75 pounds. People would ask me what kind of dog and I would say he was a new breed, "only god knows." I never officially trained Scout…but he hardly ever barked, never jumped and never chewed on things he was not supposed to chew. He was housetrained inside of a week, and walked well on the leash from the start. Getting us both into a routine of morning and evening walks. I socialized him by taking him to doggy daycare a few days a week for the first year or so that I had him. But he was just as happy to hang out at home and keep the squirels on notice and snooze until I came home and we got ready for our evening walk.
Scout passed away three weeks ago of cancer. My heart is broken…I miss him more than words can express. I had read an article somewhere recently about the black dog syndrome and then saw this invite to tell our adoption story. Scout is my lifetime dog. I was blessed beyond words to have had Scout share my life for the last 10 years. I know another doggy will find his or her way to me when the time is right, and Scout will have taught me everything I need to know to be the best "dog's human." And I am pretty positive that he or she will be a medium to big "black dog!" Thank you for inviting me to share our story.
Your website has been an inspriation to me. I have been an enthusiastic black dog fan and involved in rescue for years. Here is the story of a special rescue of a very special black dog named Angel.
On the night of September 5th, 2007, a sick young female black labrador/golden retriever mix was left in the night drop at the front
gate of Alachua County Animal Services (ACAS) in Gainesville, Florida.
The next morning she was processed into ACAS. Her name was unknown and she was designated as Animal #A374159, but we know her as Angel. She was found to be suffering from open pyometra as a complication of recently having a litter, which is a painful infection of the uterus that is lethal if left untreated. ACAS vet staff described Angel’s condition as “sick and sad”.
ACAS is an overcrowded high-kill facility facing budget shortfalls and even healthy unclaimed strays are only given 3-5 days before being euthanized. My best guess is that the veterinarian on staff needed surgery experience, but for whatever reason, Angel was spayed, her open pyometra was treated and she was spared from euthanasia during her recovery.
After recovery, Angel was designated as adoptable by ACAS, but no one adopted her.
On September 17, I found Angel’s picture online. The look on her face was sad but she was so beautiful. I tried to convince Gainesville Pet Rescue to admit her into their program, and I volunteered to foster her. Gainesville Pet Rescue’s Foster Coordinator visited ACAS and was impressed by how sweet and beautiful she was. A heartworm test was scheduled, and things were starting to look up for Angel.
On September 18, things took a turn for the worse. Angel was found to be heartworm positive. As if that weren’t bad enough, green nasal discharge was also seen on her nose and was accompanied by coughing. ACAS had recently experienced an outbreak of distemper (and euthanized six hundred dogs trying to contain it!), so despite the lack of any definitive diagnosis, Angel was removed from the adoptable section and placed in isolation. Because she was quarantined for distemper, Gainesville Pet Rescue had to reluctantly deny her entry into their program out of concern for the many other dogs under their care. I was not deterred and decided to not give up on her.
Dogs not listed as adoptable at ACAS are usually not allowed to be adopted and Angel’s chances for survival were very slim. On September 19, I spoke with an ACAS veterinarian about her. I was told that because of the distemper outbreak, had she been admitted to ACAS only a few days earlier than she was, there was no question that she would have already been euthanized. It was not easy to talk the vet into letting me take a quarantined dog out of ACAS, but I convinced him to let me adopt her. After reluctantly giving me permission, the vet warned me she didn’t have much time left.
On the morning of September 20, Angel was scheduled for euthanasia at 10am. I showed up to ACAS at 9:00 and waited for them to open at 9:30. I was first in line, but because of bureaucratic red tape resulting from her quarantined status, I was skipped in line. At 9:50 I told the ACAS adoption staff member that I was told she was a candidate for euthanasia and to please remove her from that list. The adoption staff member I spoke with wasn’t very helpful. She made a small note at the end of Angel’s long file, but didn’t bother to check the euthanasia list. Angel was in great danger of being lost in the shuffle and being euthanized just minutes before being adopted. Words can’t really describe how stressful and frustrating this was. (Later, I was told by a customer that it was a good thing I wasn’t in the room when the adoption staff member discovered her mistake because she panicked when she realized what she had done.)
I approached another, more helpful staff member and explained the situation. This staff member found Angel on the euthanasia list at just after 10am. Fortunately, Angel was still alive and was taken off the euthanasia list. I was so relieved! However, ACAS designated Angel as a special needs dog and insisted as a condition of adoption that I sign a contract guaranteeing that heartworm treatment begin within 10 days, or she would be repossessed and euthanized. I did not have the money to begin this expensive treatment on such short notice (10 days is not enough!), but I had no other choice than to sign the contract if I wanted her to live. I signed it, and Angel was spared! I finally got to meet her and she finally got a name. Because of the previous mistake made by the unhelpful staff member, I was briefly allowed into the isolation ward to meet Angel and personally place an “Adopted” sign on her kennel before returning to the lobby to finish the paperwork. Angel was panicking when I got there and immediately focused on me when I came in the room, I think because I looked out of place there and she was very scared. The despair, panic and hopelessness seen in the eyes of the rest of the dogs awaiting immanent euthanasia haunts me to this day. I tried not to look. ACAS kennel staff were so impressed by Angel that they came out to the lobby to thank me for saving her.
We triumphantly left ACAS but Angel wasn’t out of danger yet. She had to be quarantined for distemper, and if she had this insidious disease, our vet told me she only had a 50% chance of survival and even if she lived could have lifelong neurological complications.
Angel had been in a cage for a long time at ACAS and had to continue living in a cage for three more months. She was a real trooper and did her time without much complaint which is really amazing for a young energetic Labrador.
I hung a list of the threats to her life over her cage and checked them off as we went:
Euthanasia by ACAS on September 20
Contract to begin heartworm treatment within 10 days or face euthanasia at ACAS
On September 30th, Angel stopped eating and drinking and began passing watery and bloody stools, and I feared the worst as these can be symptoms of distemper. I was really scared for her. Upon examination she was found to have hookworm and after being treated her symptoms disappeared and her appetite returned. It is her veterinarian’s opinion that she did not have distemper and I’m happy to say that on October 10th, enough time had passed that she was cleared for distemper and was taken out of quarantine!
But that wasn’t the only threat to Angel’s life. I still had to somehow find a way to fund her expensive heartworm treatment within 10 days of the adoption, or an Animal Services Officer would come to our home and take her away to be euthanized.
With all Angel had been through and how very special she was, I was determined to not let that happen, but I needed help. Fortunately, the kind and generous folks at Levy County Humane Society and the United Animal Nations charity admitted Angel into their programs and funded her heartworm treatment. Angel was also treated for tapeworm and an ear infection.
Because of the support of United Animal Nation and Levy County Humane Society, ACAS granted us an extension on the heartworm treatment contract. Treatment began on October 22nd and lasted for six weeks. Heartworm treatment poses some risk especially to energetic dogs, but all went smoothly and Angel made a full recovery without complications. She received microfilaria treatment on November 27, and was allowed out of isolation on December 4.
And with that, every threat to Angel’s life had been overcome and she was free and healthy! The sad look on her face was gone for good and now she smiles all the time.
Angel is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve fostered in over 10 years. I really, really wanted to keep her but I already have two dogs and two
rescues and I know I just couldn’t do it. So I very reluctantly gave her up for adoption. Because she means a lot to me, I was extra picky about her new home.
On Saturday, February 23rd 2008, Angel went to her forever home, a 34 acre horse ranch with a loving family that adores her and another rescue dog to play with. There is lots of room to run around and an in-ground swimming pool for Angel to swim in. Angel’s new family lets her and her new doggie friend in the house and spoils them a lot.
Below are Angel's before and after pictures. Thanks for all your work with helping black dogs. It's nice to know there are others out there who care.