Ah, All Hallows’ Eve! Pumpkins, corn mazes, trick or treat, and big bowls of anthropomorphism – attributing human form or personality to things not human.
Every Halloween, we humans spend hundreds of millions on costumes for our pets. When did that happen? Back in the day, a perky collar and the occasional smart winter coat and booties were the only things most dogs wore.
It does seem wrong, this unholy mutation. Donald Duck with the face of a pug? Bloodhound in a Pope hat? Pekinese Britney Spears? Dog gurus preach that costumes that confine the middle and back can trigger an instinctual feeling of being dominated by a more powerful dog. Many dogs freeze or try skulking off as you turn them into the UPS dude. Some shake, paw and roll to escape. And none of them ever looks happy, do they, dressed as Baby Yoda, a steam punk or spider? (Search those costumes—so cute, even if they are demeaning to dog dignity.)
My daughter has helped me come around on dog costumes. She figures the dog stays dressed only long enough for a photo or two, which could draw lots of double taps on Insta. Besides, how is a costume harmful and a ThunderShirt therapeutic? These snug vests, made for both dogs and cats, purportedly reduce anxiety, like weighted blankets for humans. Maybe they work. After all, most dogs like to be hugged.
For many of us, dogs and cats are surrogate kids. We clothe them, school them, celebrate birthdays, include them on the holiday card, spoil them – all to cement their role in the family.
So go ahead and consider a costume this year. Maybe go minimalist – a simple slip-on lion’s mane for your big, tawny fur baby. An understated bowtie for your Benjy. Or you can slap on some non-toxic paint – draw a sports or school logo, some flashy tiger or zebra stripes, leopard spots. Someday, I plan to paint our golden to look like candy corn.
If you want to, go a little more intense. How about a novelty arrow through the belly, with ketchup on the side? Maybe have your dog greet trick-or-treaters in a Mitch McConnell mask, tail eased through the mouth hole? ZING! to the 17 Hannity fans in Evanston.
There’s not much for the dog in the costume experience. You’ll get some sweet pictures, though, and be happy for a couple of minutes, until your pup tears off the hot-dog suit and runs for the kitchen, demanding an actual hot dog, which you no doubt will give her.
Sniff you later.
By Lyon H. Reedy
Ten Most Popular Dog Costumes 2021 (Canine Journal list)
- Hot dog
- Various superheroes
- Bumble bee
- Ghost – sounds unworkable and dangerous for dogs
These all work for kids of course so you can match your human and fur baby!