You can call me Fuddy Duddy. You can call me Party Pooper. This Halloween, like every Halloween, I find myself put off by the effort, and money, we Americans put into dressing up our dogs for the occasion.
In trying to figure out why I feel that way, I can pin down four reasons.
One is the annoyance, and safety risk, elaborate costumes can cause for dogs. Two is that our dogs, though they might register their displeasure, don’t get to vote on being dressed up solely for the amusement of ourselves. Three is we’re tinkering, if only for a night, with something that’s already perfect. Dogs don’t need costumes any more than Mona Lisa needs a makeover.
And four is the pipedreamy thought that the $300 million we spend on costumes for pets every year could do a lot of good if it could somehow be funneled to some worthy dog-related cause.
A not-overly-elaborate costume, worn by a dog for a few minutes, doesn’t bother me. But we tend to take things to extremes when we get into decorating mode — resulting in using dyes to make them look like other animals, or, as in the case above, TV characters.
“Creative dog groomer” Catherine Opson appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Tuesday night, showcasing five of her designs — a dog transformed into a koi pond, one dyed to resemble a leopard, one zombie, one depicting nearly the entire cast of Sesame Street, and another depicting characters from the Simpsons.
Her work is impressive, and a small part of me thinks it’s kinda cool. She uses safe dyes, and the dogs, at least while on air, didn’t seem too humiliated (though they were mostly poodles).
But the larger part of me (and I’m not referring to my stomach) can’t help but feel a little troubled by what seems our increasing tendency to, more and more elaborately, decorate our dogs.
Every October, the news media, websites and blogs go nuts when it comes to costumed dogs, promulgating more of the activity. (ohmidog! is proud to be the only dog blog in the galaxy that has made it, until now, all the way to Halloween without doing so.)
If there is any creature that is entertaining and endearing enough just as it is, it is a dog. If there’s any creature that doesn’t need a makeover, it’s a dog. If there’s any creature we should be able to accept, savor and celebrate just as it is, it’s a dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 300 million, americans, amusement, animal welfare, animals, behavior, catherine opson, characters, costumes, creative groomer, decorate, decorating, dog, dogs, dyeing, dyes, entertainment, grooming, halloween, jimmy kimmel, jimmy kimmel live, koi pond, leopard, money, pets, sesame street, simpsons, species, spend, the barking dead, zombies
That’s how the American Visionary Art Museum is billing its annual “Pets on Parade” event at 10 a.m. this 4th of July Sunday (with registration starting at 9:30 a.m.).
Participants are invited to dress their pet and compete for trophies that will include Best Costume, Most Patriotic Pet and Most Visionary Pet. Honors will also be given for best pet tricks and owner and pet look-alikes.
Pets of all kinds (on leashes) are welcome and the event is free.
The museum promises plenty of shade and water.
With temperatures in the mid-90s predicted, lightweight costumes — such as this Elvis outfit Frankie wore a few years back — might be a good idea. And, cute as your dog might be in his get-up, removing the costume after the competition and allowing him a dip in the baby pools might also advisable.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 2nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 4th of July, american visionary art museum, animals, art, avam, awards, baltimore, contest, costumes, dog, dogs, events, heat, july 4, museum, pets, pets on parade, trophies, visionary
|Important Things with Demetri Martin|
|Attention – Bruce the Funny Dog|
“Important Things With Demetri Martin” kicked off its second season on Comedy Central this week, and a character with no lines stole the show. Here’s “Bruce the Funny Dog.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 13th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: bruce, bruce the funny dog, comedy, comedy central, costumes, demetri martin, dog, dog costumes, funny, funny dog, important things, television, tv
You may have noticed that we’re not real big on doggie Halloween costumes this year. We have some issues with the whole idea of costuming pooches — and encouraging the practice — that we are still working through.
That said, here’s one I just can’t pass up. Having eschewed — yes, eschewed — the costume contest at BARCStoberfest, I missed this entry (but spotted him on the Baltimore Sun’s “Unleashed” blog today). It’s Tito, a local Chihuahua, dressed as the ubiquitous pink and yellow Big Boyz Bail Bonds pen.
If you’re not from Baltimore, you might not be familiar with the company, or the fact that its pens — in a true stroke of marketing genius — are everywhere.
Big Boyz Bail Bonds orders more than 500,000 pens a year and provides them for free to bars, restaurants and shops all over town, and all over Maryland.
Protests were held in Seoul yesterday — the International Day of Action for Dogs and Cats in South Korea — calling for an end to using dogs and cats as food.
In Seoul, members of the group Coexistence for Animal Rights on Earth wore dog costumes and climbed into cages in a downtown plaza to draw attention to the issue.
“Dogs and cats are not livestock, but they are our partners. They are not food, but they are our friends,” one protester told New Tang Dynasty Television (click the link for a video). “We should abolish the bad habits of eating dogs or cats.”
Other demonstrations were planned at South Korean consulates and embassies around the world.
Although the practice is illegal under South Korean law, an underground industry continues to flourish, with thousands of restaurants in Seoul alone serving dog. Some studies have estimated as many as one in three South Koreans have eaten dog meat.
Animal advocacy groups argue that eating dog — whether its part of the country’s culture or not — is a practice that should be ceased. Others disagree. “It’s my country’s own food culture, so South Koreans will continue to eat dog meat no matter what other countries say against it,” Park Seo-ho, who owns a restaurant that sells dog meat, told the BBC.
An international online petition campaign at has been launched in 10 languages world wide to stop the consumption of dog meat , where some groups estimate more than 2 million dogs are raised and killed for food at dog farms in South Korea every year.
United Dogs and Cats is hosting an online petition campaign to draw the world’s attention to the cruel treatment of many dogs in South Korea despite animal protection laws that have been in place since early 1990s. During the first week of the campaign, over 50,000 signatures were gathered world wide.
“This is probably the cruelest thing that could happen to companion animals – many are tortured and end up on dinner tables. And the strangest thing is that it is happening right under our noses in one of the most rapidly developing countries in the 21st century,” said United Dogs and Cats head Ragnar Sass.
(Photo: Dogs awaiting butchering at the Moran Market near Seoul, by John Woestendiek; not to be used without permission)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 15th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: cages, care, coexistence for animal rights, costumes, culture, demonstrations, dishes, dogs, eat, eating, food, international day of action for dogs and cats, korea, moran market, petition, protest, restaurants, seoul, serve, south korea, united dogs and cats, worldwide
To find this one, I had to venture into the unfamiliar yet very tidy confines of marthastewart.com, where I came across this elaborate headless horsemen outfit that requires PVC pipe, children’s clothing, plenty of stuffing and lots of work.
Modeling it is Bob, who, according to his owner and the costume’s creator, is a Rottweiler-Lab mix that loves to get dressed up.
Keep in mind that not all dogs do. Some dogs enjoy the extra attention, and if the costume presents no hazards, go for it. If you dog resists efforts to put him in costume, don’t push it. On top of the other stress the night brings, putting him into something uncomfortable is asking too much.
Give him time to gradually get used to his costume — and your’s. Your dog may not immediately recognize family members when they’re disguised. Allow your dog to see and scent the costumes beforehand, and let him know who’s behind the mask.
And be wary of the other dangers the holiday poses for canines.
“We hear about more dogs dying or straying during Halloween than any other holiday,” said Liam Crowe, CEO and master dog behavioral therapist of Bark Busters USA. “…By being more sensitive to dogs’ fear-driven ‘fight or flight’ instincts, we can help keep our furry friends safe this Halloween.”
Bark Busters offers these tips:
— Don’t leave your dog outside. Even if you have a fenced yard, bring your dog inside where it is safe. If your dog is usually kept outside, bring him in a few times before the big night to get him used to being indoors. Your dog may be used to strangers, but remember that it is a natural instinct for dogs to protect the family from strangers, and on Halloween there are likely to be some pretty strange strangers.
— If your dog is timid or scared, or if he tends to love people a little too much, it is best to put him in a separate room away from the front door to limit his excitability, aggression, and chance of running outside and becoming lost.
— Reassure your dog. The best thing you can do for your dog when he is feeling unsettled by Halloween activities is to act as you normally would, and giving him a little extra reassurance and attention.
— Check your dog’s ID tag. Be sure identification tags are secure on your dog’s collar.– Keep candy away from your dog. Many candies — especially chocolate–are toxic to dogs.
— Protect dogs from candles and pumpkins. Excited or agitated dogs can easily knock over a lit candle or pumpkin. Be sure those items are away from your dog’s reach, or consider a battery-powered candle that does not burn.
— Be prepared. If you take your dog with you while trick-or-treating, be prepared at all times. Dogs do not understand that the person jumping out at you will not hurt you; they often think they can only help you by acting aggressively. Neither children nor adults in costumes should approach a dog without the owner’s consent.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 29th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bark busters, behavior, candles, candy, chocolate, costumes, dangers, dog, halloween, hazards, headless horseman, pet, preparedness, pumpkins, safety, tips, training
Other photos from the book — and many more costume ideas, some less elaborate than this one — can be viewed on her website.
According to her website, Ngo, originally from San Francisco, worked in the fashion industry as a creative director in New York City, while leading a secret life as a dog photographer.
She was also the owner of Scout, the first dog boutique in New York’s East Village, which closed in 2005.
Her dog images have been published in magazines and on calendars and stationery, and in a previous book, Haute Dog. Indognito is published by Little, Brown and Company and can be ordered through Amazon.com.
Ngo resides in Brooklyn with her dogs Martini and Emma.
(Photo from Idognito, by Karen Ngo)