Sunday, August 10, 2014

Should We Dye Shelter Dogs Pink?

Sometimes I sit outside with my dog and give little cups of lemonade to people who pass by.  A lot of people pass by.  Most of them are golfers because to get from #4 to #5, you have to cross the street directly in front of my house.  You cannot get by me if I don’t want you to.  Others are walking their dogs or simply walking themselves.  The former carry poop bags.  The latter don’t.

One of the things I have learned from this little act of kindness is the power of pink.  The first time I gave away lemonade, I had a gallon of yellow and a gallon of pink.  I gave away 38 little cups in three hours before the dog said, "Hey!  I’m melting!  Take me in the house!”  I accommodated the dog.

In giving away those 38 cups, I learned something interesting.  Four people said they couldn’t have sugar, so I learned to have water, too.  The other 34 had lemonade.  Of those 34, 32 wanted the pink lemonade.  Most of the golfers were men, but I didn’t think to count people by sex.  I didn’t realize I was going to learn anything.  I only counted the lemonade by color because the first foursome all took pink.  So did the second.  So I thought to myself, “Hmmmm.  Something interesting is happening here.  Let’s count pinks vs. yellows.” 

I discovered that great big men would reach over the row of yellow lemonade to get the pink.  Over and over, I heard big bearded men say, “I would love some pink lemonade!”  Ditto not-so-big clean-shaven men.  Men with Army tattoos on their leathery arms.  Men with US Marine caps on their bald heads.  Men would put their beer in the golf-cart cup holders to take a cup of lemonade.  And they would reach over the yellow to get the pink.

Every person who accepted my small gift of lemonade grinned from ear to ear.  I have thought considerably about that, and about the fact that all these men wanted pink lemonade.

I have come to the conclusion people grinned because they are delighted by small unexpected acts of kindness.  Ergo, we could all make the world a better place if we occasionally gave a metaphorical glass of pink lemonade to a stranger.

Second, I have come to wonder why men prefer pink lemonade to yellow.  My hypotheses have yet to be tested, but they are:

H1: When people in my generation were children, we occasionally were given lemonade, but only on the rarest of occasions were we given pink lemonade.  Therefore, pink lemonade triggers the dopamine receptors in our brains and makes us giddy in anticipation. 


H2:  Inside every man lives a little girl.  I know that the pink-girl/blue-boy thing didn’t start in the US until WWII.  In fact, in 1927, Time magazine noted that American stores considered pink as the boy-color and blue as the girl-color.  But if you ask most people in my generation what color signifies little girls, they will say pink. I know that a little girl lives inside most women; some of my fiercest women friends and I have confessed this to each other.  But maybe a little girl lives inside of every man, too.  And she likes pink.


But in addition to developing my hypotheses, I learned something about marketing.  A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but only if the rose is pink.  You want to market something? Make it pink.


I am intensely interested in marketing adoptable dogs to people who are good, and kind, and worthy of a dog.  And who have the resources to take proper care of one.


Some dogs do get adopted: 3-4 million shelter dogs and cats are adopted every year.  But another 2.7 million adoptable animals are killed in shelters every year.  More black dogs are killed every year than any other color.  People will pass right by ten black dogs to adopt a white, brown, grey, or some other color dog. 


Worse yet, people will drive by the shelter altogether to buy a dog from a pet store, a dog whose purchase promotes the horror of puppy mills.


The facts ain’t pretty.  So I am trying to figure out how I can get people to adopt instead of buy, and to adopt black dogs as willingly as dogs of other colors.


I don’t think giving people rose colored glasses would work.  Dying black shelter dogs pink- or dying any color of shelter dog pink, for that matter- doesn’t seem to be the answer either.  I don’t know what is.  If you can help me figure this out, I’ll buy you a year’s worth of pink lemonade.



  1. You would be proud of my kiddo Millie. This summer during our garage sale, my son asked if he could set up a lemonade stand. My wife and I were glad to help him set up and get his "small business" going. Turns out, he did not want to keep the money for himself, he wanted to make money to give to the local humane society. I am proud of his kind heart (and he did pretty well... with a little social media promotion... he made $81 for the "kitties and dogs"...sweet)

  2. Wow. He has his parents' heart for caring for those who cannot speak for themselves. I am proud of him. And I am proud of his parents for nurturing such a child.

  3. What a neat experiment!!
    Thanks for sharing that story. Your love of animals is so great and I appreciate all that you are doing there locally in Garland county.