Friday, March 02, 2012

Dressed in high collars and tails

I've always been an animal lover. And for the most part, animals have always loved me. Currently I care for three dogs, three cats, and a kitten, but the total has reached well into double digits at varying times of my life. I'm the guy that grumpy barking dogs want to sit close to, and the guy that moody cats like to rub up against. I believe that animals like me because of one factor. I do not dress them up in funny costumes. Animals can sense this sort of thing, and I'm sure they recognize me as being a non-costume owner.

Now, if you are one to put a hat on your dog, I have no beef with you. Just realize that sometimes the pet may not be as happy about being festive as you are. Perhaps ol' Lucky actually likes his little baseball cap that you strap on his head every so often. More power to you both. And perhaps, you even have a cat, bird, hamster, or marmot that enjoys donning their gay apparel. I'm happy for you. However, for every pet who is a closet clothes horse (so to speak), there are likely dozens who consider the ritual of dressing a mild form of animal abuse. I am their advocate.

If you are on the Internet even a fraction of the amount of time that I spend there, you have seen countless “cute” photos of pets dressed in all sorts of clothes. Many of these pictures are kind of cute. There's a pug dressed like Raggedy Ann, a black lab dressed like Zorro, and a cocker spaniel wearing the blue gingham dress of Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz.” I'll admit, I chuckle at most of those pictures. But then I look into the eyes of the pooch in the costume and I see a profound sadness. It's the same look that Ralphie had on his face in the movie “The Christmas Story” when he was standing at the top of the stairs in that pink bunny outfit. It's the look that says, “Has my life really become this meaningless to become the laughingstock of the neighborhood? I hope no one sees me wearing this!”

Dogs are easy to dress up. They handle the physical movements of putting legs into sleeves, etc. better than other animals. Like cats. I have never tried to put any of my cats into any type of clothing, but I cannot imagine coming out of the process without blood dripping from numerous parts of my body. Cats are temperamental anyway, why would you want to add to the poor animal's mood swings by putting a bonnet on it? Birds never really seem to be better-behaved to me either. Maybe a nice docile rabbit or guinea pig, but I doubt any of them really enjoy it too much.

But the thing is, people don't stop at putting Superman capes and Elvis-style sequin jumpsuits on their hounds, they design all sorts of humiliating costumes for the canines. While many of the costumes show great imagination, I sincerely doubt that Fido has much appreciation for how much work went into the making of the costume that makes him look like a taco or a hot dog with mustard, or the Sphinx. Perhaps the worst picture I've seen is the one featuring a pathetic looking black and white hound wrapped in a corrugated cardboard contraption made to look like the starship Enterprise from “Star Trek.” While the general shape of the spacecraft is cardboard, mounted above the fuselage (or in this case, Rover's back) are four beer cans poised to resemble warp-drive engines. There is a clever combination of intelligence, white trashiness, and geekdom all rolled up into this costume. But the look on the dog's face makes me want to call the ASPCA. It actually goes beyond heartbreak to something like, “I'm going to kill you in your sleep.” And what jury on earth would convict him?

And so, speaking on behalf of my friends, the animals, please put away the hats and wigs, the bonnets and the bridal dresses, and above all, the cardboard and the beer cans. The life you save may be your own.

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