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Happy Tail: Lucas, the black puppy

For some reason, black dogs are the last to adopted at shelters and rescues. It's a mystery why, to Peg Schaeffer. Lucas was late to be adopted, but now he and the Churchills of Russell County have discovered each other, and neither dog nor family could be happier with the arrangement.
The next previous Happy Tail: Happy Tail: Parvovirus prevention

By Peg Schaeffer
Sugarfoot Farm Rescue

In the fall of 2010 a young man showed up at the fence with a black puppy he had found on the side of the road. He introduced himself as Lucas. He worked for Jimmy Reliford and saw our dogs in the yard whenever he drove by. He wanted to know if we would take the pup in but wanted to make sure he would not be euthanized. I assured him that all dogs that come to us have a home here until they find a home. I told him he was welcome to check on him when he was in the area. He left the pup and we named him Lucas.

Lucas was a black Labrador Retriever mix and he grew to be quite large. He was easy going and well-mannered but was always overlooked when someone came to adopt a dog. Although it sounds like a curse straight out of a Grimm Fairytale, so-called "Black Dog Syndrome" is an all too real phenomenon for those in the shelter and rescue community.

But what, exactly is Black Dog Syndrome? Well, it's not a disease. And it's not contagious. What it is is a sad and surprising statistic: black dogs in shelter and rescue situations often take significantly longer to be adopted than their lighter-coated counterparts.

Official statistics on the plight of dark-colored dogs are hard to find

Although official statistics on the plight of dark-colored dogs are hard to find, shelter professionals everywhere know that black dogs are frequently the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. Visitors looking for pets tend to prefer animals with white, cream, brown or specked coats. And while it's anyone's guess as to why this is, theories are abundant.

A few weeks ago a retired couple from Russell Springs, George and Sharon Churchill, came looking for a dog. They had the perfect home on 10 acres of land with four ponds. They were home the majority of the time so the dog would rarely be left alone.

They fell in love with a big dog named Trout and adopted him. Sadly Trout didn't work out. His coat was very thick since he preferred to be out and when he came into their house which was heated by wood it was too hot for him. He panted and hyperventilated. Once they put him in the garage where it was cool he was fine. But they wanted a dog that could be in the house with them so they brought Trout back.

Lucas, the black dog, loves both inside and outside

They were disappointed, but wanted the best for the dog. They asked me for suggestions. I thought of Lucas. Lucas would go outside but he also liked to be inside. His favorite place was to sleep on the bathroom floor. And he wanted privacy. Whenever he was in the bathroom he would shut the door. If I opened it he would just take his head and push the door shut.

I took him out and introduced him to the Churchills. He wagged his tail at them and jumped up to be petted. After a few minutes with Lucas they decided he would be a good match. Since he had short hair we figured being in the house wouldn't be a problem for him. So off Lucas went to his new home.

New owners LOVE Lucas

I received this message from Sharon "We want to extend our sincere thanks for all the help you all gave us in adopting our dog, Lucas. We were a little hesitant in adopting but we are thrilled with him. He is so loyal and such a good buddy to my husband and I. I don't know who trained him but he is one of the best behaved dogs I have ever seen. This is truly sincere; you all have made us true dog lovers and absolutely LOVE Lucas. I think he is pretty happy, too, although he did miss you guys a lot the first couple of days. Now he knows we will love him and care for him as you all have. Once again, thank you so much and we hope to visit Trout soon."

I asked her if Lucas still shuts the bathroom door and got this response "No, but he is convinced we have a cat. I was kidding around with him and making cat meow noises. I did not know I was that good. He has looked for days in our living room for one in exactly the same spot I made the noise. He very rarely climbs on the furniture or the bed but loves to beg for food. He is with us constantly unless one of us is going somewhere alone."

So Lucas has found a wonderful home where he is loved and loves them back - although it took him four years. Good for him and thanks to George and Sharon Churchill.

Lots of black dogs at Sugarfoot, available for adoption

We have lots of black dogs looking for homes. I checked through our numbers. Currently 43% of our dogs are black or black & tan dogs.

Since we have been in existence only 29% of the dogs adopted from us have been black. So please ignore the Black Dog Syndrome and come adopt a black dog from us. But if you are superstitious we have plenty of dogs in other colors.

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email:

This story was posted on 2014-02-23 08:50:35
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Happy Tails: Two black puppies available for adoption

2014-02-23 - Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY - Photo by Peg Schaeffer. Here are two black pups available for adoption: At left is D.O.G. - He is an Australian Cattle Dog mix. He's four months old - neutered and up to date on his shots. He's a character and loves to play. On the right is Page - she is D.O.G.'s sister. She is an Australian Cattle Dog mix, 4 months old, spayed and up to date on her shots. You can't tell by the picture, but she is uniquely marked with blue merle on all four paws. She's shy and a sweetheart. Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue
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