Pets, Pets, Pets
Note: Once again the opinions expressed this week may (or may not) be those of your friendly pet columnist. My Afghan Hound, the BEACON Beauty Queen, returns with practical ideas about dressing up your dog for Halloween.
She first commandeered this column 12/8/05 when I reluctantly allowed her to spout grooming advice. Actually I was merely pacifying my snobby sighthound since I canceled her modeling audition in the city after she, clad in a sequined Spider Woman ensemble, took off through Northport at a charity event. Unfortunately there's no living with her now because she just learned at lure coursing that her pal, Glory, a Pharaoh Hound, wore a real Van Cleef & Arpels necklace down the runway during Pet Fashion Week in NYC. Sorry, but I had to let the Beauty Queen guest/ghost write again….
The Beauty Queen's turn to speak: Sure, my daffy guardian, that Edith Head Case, thinks she knows it all about canine couture since she's been dressing Afghans and shelter dogs for over 25 years, but, "I coulda been a contender". She ruined my chance at stardom. How was I to know that "runway" didn't mean "run away"? Ignore her; listen to me. I'm the one with the needle nose for fashion and, more important, the one with the Cher hair, chiseled cheekbones and wasp waist. Halloween is a week away. If you're planning on taking Trixie trick or treating, here are a few tips:
•Originality: The costumes in the pet stores and catalogs are cute, but they are a dime a dozen. No dog wants to see herself coming and going. Heaven forbid, she show up at a pooch party and some Poodle has on the same outfit. If your dog is large, look through your own closet and customize your clothes. Better yet- go to a thrift store, the most original canine creations come from garage sales and vintage shops. Short cropped tops- sequins, lamé, satinwork best. My vast wardrobe consists mainly of hand-me downs from her late Afghans and recent finds at "Bon Marché" in Babylon. Small dogs often fit in children's or doll clothes.
Joanne tried a store-bought costume once. What a fashion faux pas! She still laments about the Halloween in the '90s when she showed up at the vet with Alan, a large Afghan wearing a skeleton leotard. Her vet took one look at Alan and quipped: "He's not anatomically correct."
•Tailoring: Your poor pet has to be able to walk in his costume. Make sure the leggings are not too long or tight. All canine costumes need adjustments for the moments when nature calls. For tee-shirts or dresses, a rubberband strategically gathered at the dog's side protects the garment and gives your pooch freedom to "express" himself. Velcro straps can secure the disguise to the collar and around the rib cage; just be careful Velcro doesn't pull on long tresses. Ouch!
•Hats & Head Pieces: Most dogs despise elastic and shake off head gear; however, visors with ear holes and snoods look best on dogs with long ears. (We Afghans rule here.) Reindeer antlers made for dogs are usually top heavy and tip over. For better results-buy the antlers made for cats.
Dogs with big block heads are photogenic in hats. My silly owner has found that shy shelter dogs are the most cooperative models. They are more apt to tolerate the temporary torture long enough for a picture. Bandannas are versatile, so try tying them different ways. Subtle positioning changes everything. Note the poster dog. Joanne was going for the rock star look, but if the knot shows, it says "tooth ache" or "Aunt Jemima".
•Accessories: Less is more. Dogs, outside of goofy retrievers, will not sport a prop. You need to carry Popeye's spinach or Tinkerbelle's wand for them. Neither will the typical dog put up with anything that covers his eyes or limits his movement. Trevor, my predecessor Afghan, was the exception to the rule. He wore a long strand pearls over his Gloria Swanson get-up and posed in the yard for hours, barking at passerby to come admire him. I'm told no one, but Trevor, took him seriously.
Special "Costume Dog" For Adoption: Despite what my Beauty Queen says about me, Babylon Town Shelter's poster dog (631-643-9270) "Santana" was extremely obliging for his celebrity namesake photo session. "Oye como va": This pathetic 4 yr. old Shepherd/Retriever in Cage 59 has had a tough life. He was surrendered by an elderly lady. Santana lived on a chain outside with no doghouse where he was pestered by flies. Floor surfaces bewilder him because he only knew outdoors. Hard to believe, he is still a very loving dog who buries his head in your lap, and desperately needs a patient someone who can teach him about the good life. Babylon Town Shelter is located at 51 Lamar St. W. Babylon; open 10 to 3:45 weekdays and 10 to 2:45 on Sat. for adoptions.
Cats: "Archie, Betty, & Veronica'- sweet, sociable 6 mon. old kittens in the Cat Colony room are purrfect examples of cooperation between a municipal shelter and private rescue. I was allowed to isolate and medicate these 3 kittens at the shelter for a month; 5 more were treated at a Last Hope vet. All fine now, they have been leukemia tested, and have their rabies shots. "Archie" is neutered, and his lady friends are scheduled to be spayed soon.
More dogs: 3 male Cocker Spanielsseparate cases of neglect; "Zach"- tiny Shih tzu - an abandoned SPCA seizure Cage 29; "Matisse" the Chow mix Cage 13; Hound Cage 9; big Buster-Cage 21.