Compassionate Costumes and Clothes

With Halloween approaching I admit I am reveling in dog costumes!  I love dressing up and as it is not socially acceptable for me to go out in costume as an adult, I indulge myself by dressing up the dogs . . . with some caveats.

First, they have to like it.  When I put a coat on Tabby it was very clear she thought that coat was going to steal her soul and leave her for dead.  She froze, she went belly up, she shivered worse then she did in the snow.  I tried a costume to see if something less restrictive might be more appealing. It was not. I told Tabby I received her message and instead of using a coat I carefully monitor her time outside when it is cold, and she remains a nudist.  Costumes are not put on Tabby.

Jasper does not mind a coat, but he does not love a coat so I was not sure about costumes.  Last year he was all puppy and felt costumes were for chewing.  This year I tried out some different things I had for different dogs, and well, costumes are hit or miss.  Some of the ones with appendages he thinks are more fun to chew then wear.  Anything that goes near his head and flops around he does not like, or covers his ears, so, things with “heads” or hats are mostly out.  I do not want to limit his vision or his hearing – and not just because it is uncomfortable. Jasper is a cautious dog and he startles, putting him in something that makes it harder to see leaves him easier to surprise, and just plain stresses him out. I do not put him in anything restrictive to his movement – he is a young dog and should be able to move freely.  And so he tolerates them, and I respect that he is wearing them for me, not him, and do not keep him in them for long, or for more then a picture or two.  Which is a shame because he looks totally adorable in them.

I will chew this the second you look away.

Pirate we once put a coat on, getting it off was an adventure, we do not dress Pirate, he let us know VERY clearly it is not his thing.  Although for some reason he does not mind hats. Pirate is weird, but he is entitled to his opinions on clothing.

Enter Magdalina.  Magdalina is the most tolerant dog in the house.  I can put her in a lion’s mane, I can make her a rainbow, she is an adorable frog too!  But she tolerates, she does not love, and putting them on her sometimes makes her a walking chew toy for Jasper who thinks frogs legs are delicious!  I learned with Magdalina too that HOW a coat or costume fits matters as much as anything else.  Magdalina has arthritis and achy legs, manipulating them to put them in a coat or a sweater or a costume can be painful for her.  I have to find things for her without sleeves and that attach by the neck and under the belly. In an attempt to find something light weight I even broke out my knitting needles to make her a sweater that does not involve sleeves.  With her skin and sparse hair coats are sometimes a necessity, and she does appreciate the warmth, but, it is hard to find appropriate clothes sometimes.

But I have to talk about Shadow, Shadow loved a tutu.  You put him in a tutu or his Batman costume and he would strut his stuff and be so proud.  I could put him in so many things and as long as the camera was out, he was posing.  He was a dog that loved a costume, or maybe he loved the attention it brings.

He is not alone! My foster dog Nellie adored being dressed up, for her I think it was also about the attention. But she had no issues with costumes or clothes. Poor dog was put in many outfits.

My friend’s dogs love costumes and clothes so much they come running when she gets them out. Memphis and Bella are dressed more often then they are not and have the biggest wardrobe of any animals I know.

So, this Halloween as you are picking out your outfits take some time to think how they will fit your dog, how they will affect their vision, how they will affect their ability to move, and do doggy things. If you notice them stressed out, take it off. Watch for lip licks and ears back, and do not wait until Halloween day to put on the costume for the first time. Halloween comes with enough stress and weirdness without leaving your dog feeling uncomfortable in a costume too.

Have fun this Halloween, but make sure your dogs are having fun along with you.  And send pictures. 

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