(Written by Georgia Hatton)
Welcome to our Black Friday blog!
Over the next 7 days we will have huge offers, with money off all of your favourite treats, all week! With December just around the corner, it is the perfect time to stock up for the festive season.
In this week's blog post we’ll take a look at black dogs, such as resident office dog Millie!
“You can have any colour you want, as long as it is black”
…said Henry Ford - referring to his Ford Model T - but this could be referring to Greyhounds! Despite their name, and the fact that there are 35 different registered colours and patterns, a massive 58% of registered greyhounds in the UK and Ireland are black.
The reason for this? Genetics.
There are two pigments that determine dog coat colour - eumelanin (black) and phaeomelanin (red). Combinations of these colours and their expression is what produces coat colour. Where black is the default, variations in the gene alter the expression of this, to produce colours such as blue. Where Red is the default, it produces all kinds of shades, from the deep red of the irish setters, to the pale yellow of a golden retriever. Black coats can either be dominant black, or recessive black. In greyhounds it’s dominant, and black parents produce black puppies. In a breed where performance is valued above all else, and there is little consideration for coat colour, the dominant colour is, well, dominant!
Black Dogs Syndrome in Rescue Centres
Black dog syndrome refers to the widely established phenomenon whereby black dogs are reported to take longer to be adopted from rescue centres than their paler coloured counterparts - especially in large breeds. Scientific evidence for this is limited, but geographic location, size and breed have been proven to at least correlate with adoptability of black dogs. Some studies have shown that black dogs take longer, otherwise have shown there is no difference. Rescue workers would say differently - and anecdotally, Millie was the last of her litter to be adopted. Perhaps because she is almost solid black, compared to her siblings with their flashy white patches.
Millie - once an overlooked rescue puppy, now living her best life as a professional office dog and treat taste tester!
A supernatural beast
Hellhounds - such as Cerberus, the 3 headed dog guarding the underworld - crop up in mythology from all over the world, and are generally viewed as a servant to or an embodiment of a devil, a demon or Gods associated with death.
The black dogs of English Folklore are believed to be a survival of this belief. There are apparitions of black dogs reported from almost every county in England. In general, they are sinister and associated with death - they may haunt the site of a violent death, or their appearance may be an omen of death itself! A notable exception to this is the Gurt dog in Somerset - said to behave benevolently, guiding home lost travellers at night, and protecting them from danger.
Even in mythology where black dogs feature, but aren’t the focal point, there is an element of the supernatural to it. The ancient Greek goddess Hekate - the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night and the moon - was accompanied by a black dog. This was believed to be the spirit of Queen Hecuba, who had leapt into the sea after the fall of Troy, transformed to a dog and destined to follow the goddess forevermore.
Ancient Greek image of the goddess Hekate - depicted with a bow, black dog and twin flaming torches.
Famous black dogs
In Keeping with mythology, one of the most famous black dogs of all time - albeit it a fictional one - is Athur Conan Doyle's “Hound of the Baskervilles”.
Part of the Sherlock Holmes series, in this story, the detective investigates reports of a monstrous black dog haunting the mires of Dartmoor, and causing the untimely deaths of the Baskerville family. Whilst the story doesn’t have a supernatural ending, it’s clear he got the inspiration for the story from the reports of mythological dogs of the time.
Another fictional dog is Sirius Black - with his dog personality being better known as Padfoot - from the Harry Potter series. Described in the books as “a bearlike black dog” he was brought to the silver screen, initially by a German Shepherd, then by a pair of Scottish Deerhounds, who even did their own stunts!
Treo was a real-life black labrador x springer spaniel, who was awarded the Dickin Medal, the equivalent of the Victoria Cross for animals, in 2009 for his service as an active military dog. He worked detecting explosive devices in Afghanistan, saving countless lives, both soldiers and Afghan civilians alike. He died in 2015, and was buried with his medal.
Treo - although he passed away in 2015, he has been immortalised in a statue in Congleton, Cheshire and in a book about him - “It’s all about Treo - Life and War with the world’s bravest dog”, written by his owner Sergeant Dave Heyhoe
October 1st - National Black Dog Day
Celebrated each year on the 1st October, national black dog seeks to give black dogs a place in the spotlight. Although Black Dog Day 2022 has passed, why not make Black Friday an excuse to treat the black dogs in your life, with some of their favourite treats?