Could ancient myths leave dogs homeless?

Published date: 31 October 2012 |
Published by: Helen Davies
Read more articles by Helen Davies


ANCIENT myths could be behind black dogs being left at an animal rescue centre for months on end.

Volunteers at Merlin Animal Rescue in St Asaph say they have more black greyhounds than any other dog.

The phenomenon is known as ‘Black Dog Syndrome’ and researchers in America are trying to find out if the traditional symbolism of black dogs as representative of evil is behind it.

“Sadly we struggle to home black greyhounds more than any other dog,” said Nik Jones from Merlin.

“We have nine black dogs in at the moment and we met up with another animal rescue the other day and it’s exactly the same with them.

“Once you get a black dog at a rescue centre, especially a greyhound or lurcher, they just take a lot longer to home.”

One of the black dogs looking for a home at Merlin is Annie, who has been at the centre for over 18 months.

“She came in as a cruelty case with broken ribs and cuts and bruises all over her very thin body,” said Nik.

“Sadly everyone just passes her by but she is one of the most friendliest dogs you could meet.”

The Black Dog Research Studio in America is working to explore reasons why black dogs may get left behind in rescue centres.

They are looking at whether superstitions surrounding black dogs which have been around for centuries could be the culprit.

In myths and legends big black dogs are often a nocturnal apparition said to be associated with the devil and their appearance regarded as a omen of death.

Large black dogs are also often featured in films or books with large, glowing eyes in electrical storms and at crossroads or ancient pathways.

In Welsh folklore The Gwyllgi is a mythical dog that appears as an apparition of a mastiff with glowing red eyes

At the time of Halloween volunteers at Merlin are urging people not to be spooked out by the thought of giving a black dog a home.

“I can’t understand why black dogs or cats are left behind,” added Nik.

“They are all beautiful to me and colour or looks shouldn’t matter when choosing a pet.”

If you think you can help rehome one of these dogs call 07780 671 649 or go to

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