Just look at that face and say, “Awwwww!”

Published 7:38 pm Friday, October 4, 2019

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He can be a pesky little cuss. He gets into some of everything and sometimes he’s the most misunderstood critter I ever came across; loud, annoying, smelly before he gets a bath, and always with a mind of his own.

And, Wednesday he had his own day.

I’m referring to Frankie, my ebony, hair-like-satin, miniature Schnauzer. And in case you weren’t aware, Wednesday Oct. 2 was National Black Dog Day.

I know it’s not Halloween, but did you know that the same stigma that surrounds black cats also affects black dogs? It’s crazy but true! Even today there are still people who mistakenly believe that black dogs are bad omens and harbingers of rotten luck. National Black Dog Day seeks to change that.

The first National Black Dog Day was celebrated on Oct. 1, 2011, focusing on what founder Colleen Paige called, “these beautiful, shiny fur babies that offer just as much unconditional love as any other dog and deserve just as much love back.” She did it hoping it would get more black dogs adopted from shelters.

I know, because Frankie was adopted as a pup.

Did you know going back to the time of Jesus that the gene responsible for the black color of North American wolves is due to a transfer of genetic information from Yukon dogs? All that rich history and people still choose light-colored dogs over black ones at adoption shelters because of something called “Black Dog Syndrome”.

The good news: there are plenty of black dogs to choose from at your nearby animal shelter. The bad news: it’s because of that dreaded so-called “Black Dog Syndrome”, an unconscious phenomenon that leads to fewer black dogs being adopted.

Sadly, because so many people pass over black dogs, preferring to take home animals with lighter coats, black dogs are more likely to be put down. But as one of the advocates, Paige believes “Black Dog Syndrome” may not be real.

But back to the point: Romeo, a black wolf living in Alaska was famous for his friendly interactions with both dogs and people.

Even in folklore, from Shakespeare (The Tempest, where ‘every dog will have his day’) to Sherlock Holmes (Toby, though I think he was a hound!), to Boston Blackie (he was a detective, his dog’s name was, get ready: Whitey!), black dogs have been storytelling sensations for thousands of years.

Black dogs even inspire rock ‘n’ roll. The Led Zeppelin song, “Black Dog”, was named after a black Labrador that hung out near the band’s recording studio. And even though I listened to it, the song has nothing to do with dogs.

But I guess I wanted to celebrate “Black Dog Day” to affirm that no matter their color, dogs are man’s best friend – even misunderstood little black ones.

They’ve been bred for thousands of years to love and to serve us. Maybe that’s why Frankie quivers with excitement when he hears me put the key in the door and comes charging at me like a water buffalo.

Bottom line, if you’ve got a dog, I don’t care if he’s black, tan, white, patched, brindled, or even marbled. But there’s something special – classic, even – about a jet-black pooch that just plain sets them apart from the pack.

They may be the least-adoptable pets in most animal shelters, simply because of their color. But, hey – get over it people! This is sometimes, but not always, the result of superstition. Some people think black means bad or evil, so they adopt an animal with a lighter-colored coat.

No matter to me, my black dog didn’t need his own day. Wednesday I just wanted Frankie to give me a hug, lick my face, and then he could go finish rooting through the trash.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at: gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.