A Word About Dressing Up Your Dog

In case you hadn't noticed, I love fashion. I love to shop, and I love to read about and study fashion, beauty, and style trends. If you follow me on Twitter, or if you have ever met me, you have probably also noticed how much I love my dog, Sandy. Like, obsessively love my dog, in that way that childless married folk often do. My Instagram account is basically photos of my dog and photos of food; when people show me photos of their kids, I show them photos of Ms. Sandra Payne. (She took my husband's name, I didn't.) I love to take close-ups of her various body parts, and can often be heard enthusing: "Here's her belly! Here are her paws!" I had to change the screen saver on my phone--a close-up of Sandy's nose--because so many people thought it was a vagina.

What's my point? My point is that as cute and awesome and singular as my dog is--as obsessed as I am with buying her cool presents--I have spent years looking down my nose at those who dude up their dogs.


A few years ago I would have mercilessly mocked any and every dog wearing clothing, and their owner. But then my best friend bought a tiny, purse-sized Chihuahua and a whole wardrobe to go with him. While I dug Chauncy's cool studded collar--what 3 pound dog that never goes outside doesn't need a studded collar?!--I couldn't resist making fun of Jessica. But Jessica stopped me in my tracks, with a withering look and a piece of logic I couldn't deny: "Christina, we live in Upstate New York. My dog would freeze to death if I didn't put something on him to wear."

I have to admit, I was floored. Jessica's tone was of the "Um, DUH!" variety, and I had to concede her point--a tiny dog without a lot of fur is going to get really cold. She really got me thinking about my snobbish dog clothing attitude, which led me to remember that when I lived in Alaska I never batted an eye at the coats, vests, and booties that my friends put on their pups to protect them during the coldest months. I was deeply disappointed in myself; I had engaged in snobbery--perhaps even dog discrimination--and completely ignored the practical side of canine clothing.

My dog, Sandy, is a 12-year-old, ninety pound yellow lab mix; a retired working dog (duck, geese, and pheasant hunting) who spent many an afternoon in her youth wrapped in doggie hunting gear while out on the lake with my husband. Today she lives a quiet life of rest and retirement, totally spoiled in every way, so who am I to judge? Don't I try to buy her cool collars and harnesses in "girly" colors so people will stop calling her "him"? And don't I leave on the cute little kerchief they tie on her when she gets groomed, or comes home from the doggie hospital?

I have left my judgmental tendencies behind, and while I won't be shopping for a full wardrobe for Sandy any time soon (she's awfully hairy for clothes here in hot, humid Houston), I have fully embraced the idea of giving dogs some flair of their own. Mea culpa to all those I have mocked over the years--I have learned my lesson.

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Christina Uticone