Monday, October 17, 2016

Halloween Costumes for Dogs -- Trick or Treat?

If you’re anything like me, autumn brings excitement for crisp, cool weather, cozy sweaters and pumpkin flavored everything. If you’re like my husband, you are concerned about your Halloween costume at the first sign of the foliage turning orange.

This is our first fall with Tessie, and she is loving the season. It’s no longer too hot for morning walks, and she enjoys lounging on patches of sun in the back yard peppered with fallen leaves. The hubs is a big fan of getting decked for Halloween, and he suggested the three of us dress up as a trio for trick-or-treaters. 

Personally, the idea of dressing up always seems good in theory, but I usually lose interest before I make it to the store. This year seems different, though, now that we have our little girl who hasn’t experienced the holiday with us – or at all, since she was rescued from Thailand earlier this year. Channeling Carrie Bradshaw, I took to my computer because I couldn’t help but wonder…do dogs even like getting dressed up?
My first Google search brought up a blog by Tara Parker-Pope for the New York Times, which referenced an article from The New Yorker on the very subject. Nice, I thought, I’m a good doggie parent for considering Tessie’s emotional well-being. The New Yorker piece asked Alexandra Horowitz, the author of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,” what our pets might think of being capped, zipped and Velcroed. Her response: “Inasmuch as I can speak to the experience of any animal (including members of my own species), my answer is “The dog, he does not like it.”

Yikes, not what I want to hear. Over the summer, I stumbled on a set of red, white and blue sweat bands for her.

As a new American citizen, I was sure she wouldn’t mind showing off her new national pride for Independence Day and the Olympics! She hated the headband, which I respected, but she didn’t seem to mind the bands around each of her paws. Earlier this month, the autumn spirit brought me to purchase a pumpkin-themed bandana, which was just darling paired with her new denim collar. Again, she seemed unfazed.  

With Halloween just around the corner, we’ve discussed a few costume possibilities. I liked the idea of dressing up as Scarecrow, the hubs as Tin Man and Tessie as Cowardly Lion, a la the Amazon commercial. But without Dorothy, this scenario fell flat. Then there was Tessie as Chewbacca and we would be Han Solo and Princess Leia, except it felt disingenuous since we’re not really Star Wars fans.

Then, thanks to a coworker, we landed on The Addams Family: Gomez, Morticia and Cousin Itt.

This creepy and kooky trio is currently the frontrunner, but it is contingent on finding comfortable accessories for Tessie. A wig seems out of the question, but it might work with doggie sunglasses and a hat…unless she’s going to hate us for festooning her for our own entertainment (well, ours and also the adorable trick-or-treaters we’re sure to impress.)

Thankfully, Horowitz also has some encouraging words for me and any others out there considering the same:

This is not to say that it is entirely torturous for your pet…Thoroughly domesticated, having put up with human behavior and its attendant silliness for something on the order of fourteen thousand years, the dog may suffer some costuming gladly…He gets your attention, and probably an extra round of liver treats. Aside from the liver, there is little as nourishing to a dog as the attention of his owner.

This weekend I visited a friend and spent some time with her dog Sable. When I took a seat on the kitchen floor to better connect with Sable, my friend did a double take. “I’m a dog person now,” I bragged. She smiled, knowing I was hesitant on welcoming a dog into our house. Tessie has since won my heart, and dressing her up for Halloween isn’t about making her look foolish; it’s about making her part of the family. And Horowitz’s assessment is enough of a blessing to give it a go.

Maria Poulos Pimentel is a New Jersey transplant now settled in New England.   Maria works in marketing and publicity by day and snuggles with her sweet collie/shepherd/husky Tessie by night. She was a reluctant dog owner at first, but she's quickly learning the ropes and discovering all the joys of doggie parenting. Maria will be sharing more of her adventures in dog love with PawsGo.

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