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Tag: halloween

I love you just the way you are

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.

OK, OK, a dog costume, but just one

BigBoyz

 
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.

Dog pumpkins: How Martha Stewarty is this?

pumpkindogIt’s as easy as buying a pumpkin, going on line, downloading a stencil of your dog’s breed, transferring the stencil onto the pumpkin, hollowing out the pumpkin, and then spending an hour or so, I’d guess, delicately carving out your dog’s likeness.

It looks like something that crafty Martha Stewart would come up with and, for all I know, maybe she has. But the stencil used to carve this dog came from Good Housekeeping, which offers about a dozen breed stencils for free downloading

You can also vote for your favorite one, or learn how to create your own stencil.

Happy carving!

$13 dog adoptions, for 13 days, at BARCS

barcsdogBaltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) puts no stock in silly superstitions — not even in the Halloween season.

BARCS is offering $13 adoptions for 13 days as part of a special “Howl-O-Ween” promotion.

Apparently, they decided against the black cat specials (shelters generally frowning on promoting gimmicky impulse adoptions).

But gimmicky alone is OK. So, from Oct. 19 through Oct. 31 the shelter will be doing $13 dog adoptions. Regular adoption procedures will apply. All dogs will be spayed or neutered, de-wormed; and be given rabies, DHLPP and bordatella vaccines. BARCS also provides a flea preventative, a general examination, a food sample, and even a month of free health insurance.

“We’re celebrating Howl-O-Ween, but not with tricks, just treats,” says Jennifer Mead-Brause, executive director at BARCS. “We’ll treat you to a new best friend.”

BARCS is the largest shelter in the Baltimore area, taking in over 12,000 animals each year. BARCS has taken in 3,749 dogs from January 1 through September 30, 2009.

To adopt an animal from BARCS, stop by the shelter on Stockholm Street, (behind M&T Bank Stadium), call 410-396-4695 or visit baltimoreanimalshelter.org. BARCS is open for adoptions Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m to 4 p.m.

(Photo: Majesty, a two-year-old male, is one of the adoptable dogs now at BARCS)

BARCStoberfest: Saturday in Patterson Park

Hon_DogHalloween may be more than a week away, but the time to start costuming your pooch for BARCStoberfest is now.

BARCStoberfest takes place this Saturday, Oct. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Baltimore’s Patterson Park.

The costume contest, a perennial favorite, starts at 1:30 pm. Dogs can compete in any of several categories: Best Halloween Theme,  Best Hon/Best Boh, Matching Dog & Human and Most Original.

A Best in Show winner will be selected (by audience applause) from the four category winners. There’s a $15 entry fee for each category, and prizes in the contest are donated by Dogma.

Other contests at BARCStoberfest include most unique pet trick or talent, best tail wagger, best singer or howler, best kisser, fastest treat eater and smallest and largest dog. There’s a $5 entry fee for those competitions.

The 5th annual BARCStoberfest is a festival for animal lovers that helps raise funds for BARCS, which takes in 12.000 animals a year. If it’s rained out Saturday, it will be held Sunday.

Keep your head on Halloween

One last doggie costume, and some final words of advice and — in a couple more nights, anyway — we can put Halloween behind us.

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.

Halloween Costume # 5: Matador Chihuahua

This one comes from Karen Ngo’s new book, Indognito: A Book of Canines in Costume, published this fall.

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)

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