Herky’s Black Story

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Herky, a male Black Lab, was born at the Red Desert Humane Society Shelter in Rock Springs, WY; where he lived the first six months of his life, until we rescued him. This was my husband’s very first experience with canine companionship and it was truly love at first sight.

When we moved to Salt Lake City, we started taking Herky for walks in Tanner Park, where we discovered he loved leaping off the rocks and jumping into the water. When he was four years old we took him to his very first dock-jumping event. He was a natural, reaching over 14 feet his very first time. The next year we took him to the Splash Dog Nationals in Las Vegas, NV; where he placed sixth in the event. His personal best is now over 23 feet! Herky is a very high energy boy. We usually attend three or four events with him each year and he is always a crowd favorite, because he jumps so high!

Through the dock-jumping events, Herky has introduced us to a whole new world of friends and their canine companions. Conversations flowed easily and we learned about dog sports, rescue, foster care and the dreaded Black Dog Syndrome. Since we always thought black dogs were the best, we were surprised to learn people usually pass them up for lighter colored companions. Most people are not aware how doomed black dogs are when they leave them at a pound or shelter. They are often the last to be adopted out, if at all. Black dogs, particularly black labs or lab mixes, are euthanized at a horrifying rate.

Herky is now eight years old and still strikingly handsome with his shiny black coat; and, just as much fun as the day we met him. He inspired us to rescue more black dogs. We now have six more rescue dogs —three Black Labs, a Weimaraner, a Min Pin and a Min Pin Mix. We have also fostered many dogs from several different rescue organizations.

Herky is also an ambassador for Labs, black dogs and shelter dogs. He has been a celebrity judge for a costume contest, been on the news several times, and been in two newspaper articles about his dock-jumping skills. He even has his own Facebook page. Thanks to Herky stealing our hearts, we are involved with rescuing, fostering and promoting awareness to the community about the Black Dog Syndrome. If you are thinking about adopting a dog, please don’t overlook black dogs. They are just as loving and wonderful as lighter colored dogs.

Last year, to help raise awareness about the Black Dog Syndrome, I decided to do a 30 day “Black Dog Photo Challenge” on Facebook. Every day for a month I took my canine companions to different areas around the valley and photographed them to show the world how fun and beautiful they really are. Their album has been shared over and over; plus, other people are sharing their own black dog photos! I just started my “Black Dog Photo Challenge” on Facebook again this year. I hope you will join me in posting your black dog photos too. My husband and I have so much fun with our “rescue” companions that we want to share some of those special moments with everyone.

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Theresa Foster

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