Black dogs and cats get a raw deal when it comes to being unwanted. Ending up at a shelter is bad news for any animal, but black critters are the least likely to be adopted and if they are lucky enough to be chosen by an adoptee, they will have waited for the longest.
I've done a bit of research on this and there seem to be four major reasons that black cats and dogs are last on the list for potential adoptees - firstly, they don't look good in animal photography shots (I think these images disprove that point) which is tragic if you want to take over Instagram with your new pet (repeatedly smacks forehead against the wall), secondly, black dogs can look intimidating and aggressive, thirdly, black cats are superstitiously unlucky (or should that be stupid-stitiously) and lastly, they are a bit plain and boring to look at. What. Evs.
So, because I'm a fan of championing the underdog (and cat), these pet portraits are my PR stunt to show that black dogs and cats are far from boring. I have of course used some creative license with the descriptions (aside from Casper who really did try to wear a feather boa) because, like a publicity-hungry Kardashian, I'll do anything to get the animal shelter inhabitants the attention they deserve. I've even made a book about shelter dogs which you can find here.
All the adorable animals in this series have been safely adopted/rescued and are now living it up in loving family homes, just in case anyone is wondering.
My Googling did reveal an interesting tip for shelters looking to encourage people to adopt their 'boring' black dogs and cats - place them with dogs and cats who are wearing alternative colored outfits. Apparently, if there's one black dog amongst a run full of brown dogs, he's most likely to be selected. Make them stand out. Apparently, humans are a bit partial to clever marketing and fancy packaging.
Thankfully the dog and cat moms and dads who brought their precious rescues to the studio for beautiful photos selected their creatures based on their super personalities. The exception to this rule (there's always one) is DOGG. He was picked up at the side of the road, called 'Dog' because he was only going to be a foster but then he changed his name to D O GG and refused to leave.
Shelters worldwide often euthanize black dogs and cats more frequently purely because they know they are going to be more difficult to re-home. Some don't even get a chance to meet their forever family. Heartbreaking.
Changing perceptions amongst potential adopters as well as using clever 'marketing' tools to make them stand out seems to be the key.
The general public (worldwide) needs to be educated about the sterilization of pets to reduce the number of unwanted critters running around. Many of the stars I snapped were accidental arrivals (don't tell Truffle) and whilst they are unbelievably loved, another critter will have not been so lucky. It's a numbers game, one that must be reduced by getting cats and dogs 'fixed' before more accidental babies arrive.
Potential dog owners also need encouragement to adopt. There are a whole bunch of misconceptions about shelter dogs and cats. Sometimes they can be difficult, sometimes they take a while to settle, sometimes they require extra TLC and a behaviorist, but mostly they don't. All shelter pet parents will tell you that the love you get in return is 110% worth it. All the shelter pet parents I talk to who have bought a dog or cat previously tell me that they will never, ever buy a dog again because their rescued friend has changed their life for the better.
Have you got a black rescue dog or cat who has added immeasurable joy to your life and perhaps relieved you of some furniture or curtains? Tell me about them and include a photo in the comments below.
Lost his eye whilst on a secret mission for MI5. Keeps requesting a monetary allowance for a diamond-encrusted patch. Keeps being denied. Has put in an order with Cartier and is going to expense it.
Judgemental as all hell. Found living under a trailer but is in no way trashy.
An enthusiastic advocate for the legalization of The Nip. Might have had some before the shoot.
Insisted on a head shot only because he's still trying to get bikini ready.
Part of an 'oopsie' litter but insists that he's full pedigree. Still thinks this shoot was for Country Life magazine.
As crazy as she looks. Once used a set of toddlers as skittles. Claims it was a total accident.
Maya The Mexican
Won't make eye contact until you've downed four tequila shots and said 'Xoloitzcuintli' correctly. Good luck.
Weighs 50kg, thinks she's a lap dog. Can take out a couch once she breaks into a gentle trot.
Likes the finer things in life. Insists on silk sheets. Secretly likes to wear feather boas.
Raised by a cat. Has a full repartee of witty one-liners. Won't wait to be invited to use them.
Full-time retiree. Part-time therapist. Will always share her couch, but may fall asleep whilst you talk.
Has a fetish for sitting on velvet chairs. His tongue isn't the only thing he lets hang out.
Pronounced 'D' 'O' "double G' as in Snoop. Impossibly cool. Fan of hip hop.
Yes, that is paint on his ear. Yes, this is his last ever modeling gig.
Only wears Gucci. Anxiously waiting for a Net-A-Porter delivery that's taking forever to arrive.
Didn't stop talking throughout the shoot. Also has paint on her ear. Also fired.
Reserved at first. Secretly a HUGE Madonna fan. Has all her albums.
Slightly needy, snorer of note. Sheds so much that her mom now dresses like Batman.