Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Because he's black

I'm going to be a proud mama and brag about my dog a little (lot). Homer is doing GREAT. He's improving socially and learning the basic commands we're teaching him. He's gotten somewhat better about the teething situation. I can already see his big teeth coming in so the end is in sight (hopefully). My little boy is growing up already!

Apparently puppies can have skin conditions just like humans and our little man is suffering from a non-contagious one. Our vet is fantastic and although we probably traumatized Homer with the skin scraping, it looks as though his immune system is already fighting to heal it with a medicated shampoo aiding that along. You know what's fun, having to give a dog a medicated bath and let him sit in the suds for 5 minutes. Longest 5 minutes EVER. Unfortunately though I had to take him to said vet today due to some weird behaviors, but luckily it seems to just be his skin condition bothering him and nothing more. Fingers crossed that by adding some antibiotics and keeping up with the medicated shampoo baths he'll be better in about three weeks time.

We've enrolled him into puppy classes at PetSmart and am thrilled with how he is flourishing.  Homer is learning to interact with other dogs, people, and overall socialization. Our trainer even invited us to come to a bonus class on the weekend so he could interact with more and larger sized dogs as she was impressed with how he is progressing. He did amazingly with dogs both large and small is such a friendly puppy towards strangers.

I however noticed something last week that really stuck out and I'm torn as I see it more and more.

When we were looking at dogs to adopt online, I read this article on PetFinder about Black Dog Syndrome (BDS). It mentioned how shelters tend to be over-populated with black dogs and cats as most people like the cute, white, fluffy dogs to match their perfect picket fence and 2.5 kids (how does that statistic even work?! I digress). But I mean really, do people honestly buy into the big, mean, black dog (and or superstitious cat) situation? I was skeptical.

Nick and I didn't care if our dog was white, black, or purple, we just wanted a puppy that would fit in our home and lifestyle. Sure BDS may be a thing, I thought, but who doesn't just love to pet a cute puppy?!

We fell in love with Homer's little face and the rest is history. But I noticed that when we do take him out, some people are hesitant to pet him. Or they'll cross to the other sidewalk if I'm walking him outside. Is it because he's a black dog? Or are they just not dog people? Or is that their normal route and I'm just looking too much into this?

I hate to generalize everyone this way because there are plenty of people who do just come up to us and readily want to pet him. In my non-scientific research it's 50/50. I had one child walking around the store with his dad look at me, and then at Homer, and back at me which is when I told him it was okay to pet him. The boy hesitantly put his hand forward and then pet Homer on the head. His eyes positively lit up when Homer wagged his tail and allowed him to keep petting him quietly.

But then the stigma really stood out last week at puppy class. Part of the training was to stand by the entrance of the store and ask people who come in to pet the dogs so they can learn to take the attention and not jump up. It was Homer and a little white fluffy Maltese named Marble. It was incredible to see how many people flocked to the small fluffy dog and ignored Homer.  One woman specifically readily crouched down to pet Marble, and only hesitantly pet Homer when he went over to her. You could visibly see on her face she was uncomfortable and she readily admitted to us of being afraid of bigger dogs. Homer obviously could tell she was nervous, didn't jump, and just wagged his tail while she pet him.

I was at a loss for words. I thanked the woman for being kind enough to pet him, but my puppy is by no means big. I mean he's bigger then the other dog in the class, but he's still definitely a puppy. Maybe it's just my perception of big? When I see the hesitation I always encourage the the individual to pet him and tell them that Homer is very friendly. Usually that's all the person needs and they reach down to rub him. But it's amazing to see that nervousness or unsurity when I come down an aisle with my dog.

So needless to say I'm trying to break the black dog stigma and show people that Homer is just a kind and friendly dog. Because honestly, look at him. Look at that little sleepy weepy face and tell me that he's not just a little snugglepuffins you want to just squeeze. Don't worry, I'll do it for you.

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