Pets who wear clothes often get attacked: Verbally or from behind a keyboard. Enough is enough.
Fellow pet parent, cat lover, veterinary technician, and friend, Teri T, was recently flogged on social media. She dared to put a dress on her cat and take her cat to work, the latter which didn’t touch a nerve to “Leslie.”
Someone, somewhere has an opinion on what makes their belief system the one that matters: And many times that belief system should stay from whence it began: Silent! Here’s the image that caused a ruckus and here we go again.
This is a health and wellness blog in the name of dog. As such, we explore and discuss topics that touch affect a pet’s overall well-being. I’ve said it before and I am saying it again: Unless a pet is unhappy, in harm’s way, or the apparel is too tight/too warm/too limiting to the pet, putting clothes on an animal is the sole business of the pet parent. End. of. Story.
Being on social media, however, makes a pet parent prone to people who feel the need to be plain mean.
Leslie shared live and on Facebook with what is presumed to be her real name, “Why is that cat wearing clothes? Says a lot about the woman and none of it is good.”
Teri’s supporters came to her defense in a kind and civilized way, but Leslie is not alone. The Leslies of the world believe it is wrong, improper, and even abusive to put clothes on pets.
From a Dog Clothing Perspective
Not all dogs are into fashion. Not all dogs like wearing clothes. If this is the case and your dog is truly upset or stressed by it, don’t do it. Maybe you think it’s odd or weird for someone to put clothes on a dog. So if it bothers you, then don’t do it. The same goes with cats or any pet.
There are both functional and fashionable reasons for canines to don couture, and perhaps a bit of both in many cases.
If your pet does not like clothes, wearing clothes, and tends to either freeze in place, act like they were lathered in glue, or otherwise is unhappy about apparel: Please for the love of Lassie, don’t make them wear clothes. You can still have fun: There are so many fun leashes, collars, and bandanas on the market these days that you don’t have to feel excluded.
Think like Goldilocks: Is it too hot, too cold, or just right? Dogs and cats can overheat easily, so ensure your dog’s clothing is not too bulky or heavy. Watch for elastic features around the paw area and be certain there is enough room in the girthy area of the chest. If a dog or cat can easily trip over the legs, this is not ideal.
New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, heralded as one of the world’s leading higher educational facilities for fashion design, offers a certificate program in Pet Product Design and Marketing. The brainchild of Professor Janet Brav and Assistant Professor Deborah David, the noncredit program offers six courses, including Pet Accessory Design Studio and Quick Sketching for the Pet Product Business.
Fashion is a serious financial business.
Fi-Dose of Reality
There is a time and a place for fashion for dogs. For some, it’s year round and for others it’s a functional thing. For yet another group of folks, they are just so not into clothing for pets.
Apparel does not only apply to the dog’s body. Folks are often surprised to learn that a dog’s pads are not as resilient as you might think they are.
Fact: Chemicals can be absorbed through a dog’s sensitive pads. In turn, those chemicals (such as what’s found in antifreeze) can be licked by dogs and cause severe problems. I use Musher’s Secret on my dog’s feet and have given this product as a stocking stuffer to dog-loving friends and family in the past. I also love Pawz for hot pavement or icy sidewalks. Some people opt for dog booties, which is a smart idea in the winter months. Wash dog pads off thoroughly after a walk, perhaps using some warm water and a washcloth to melt any ice balls that may have formed on the bottom of their feet.
A Pro Speaks Out
Fashion has gone to the dogs, and bark is the new black. On television, in print magazines, and on the runways (and walkways), dogs are mimicking their human counterparts, and what was once considered a fad has emerged as a trend.
“Dressing dogs up is a natural extension of our love for them, whether in apparel or just a fancy collar. It gives us pleasure and solidifies that they really are our fur babies, no matter how young or how old,” pet fashion designer Lucy Medeiros of Montreal told me.
Medeiros graduated from college with a degree in Women’s Wear in 1985, and never could have imagined she would run her own fashion house catering to pets. Back then, pets and fashion were not something people talked about, she says. Using the inspiration of her dog, Roxy (also the face of the brand), Medeiros launched the line and never looked back.
Power of the Paw
Posh puppies and coutured collies abound, but are we humanizing Fido by dressing him up? Or is canine fashion merely a further extension of our love for our furry family members?
Designer Medeiros explains her theory. “Like our children, our dogs are extensions of our families. We love, nurture, and take care of them in every way possible, and take them along with us anywhere we can.”
The growing focus from a marketing and media perspective on the human-animal bond also continues to attract niche sectors usually targeted at people. From dog booties to Swarovski crystal-laden collars and even canine handbags, we dote on our dogs, and designers are cashing in.
As you can imagine, Leslie’s rude comment touched a nerve. The comment that gets our major wag of approval is this:
How sad that you are judging someone you obviously know nothing about. Teri is a well-respected animal advocate and well educated and admired in her field of practice. For more than 30 years she has worked around the clock to support her clients, friends, coworkers and her cats. I have two of her Cornish Rex cats and can assure you that her cats are loved and well cared for. She is a rescuer, an advocate, an educator and my dear friend. This breed loves to wear clothing and thrives on human interaction and attention. She herself would suffer before any of her beloved animals would. Perhaps you would benefit from a visit to this clinic and see for yourself instead of passing judgment from behind a keyboard.
We Aren’t Crazy
Those of us with a passion for fashion for our pets aren’t crazy. We are passionate. We love our pets. I know my dog isn’t a person: He won’t live as long as people and my time with him is limited. I am the dog mom who knows that my heart will break in a million pieces because dogs just don’t live as long as we do. I know that pain all too well.
The great majority of pet parents who choose to dress their pet in apparel do so with a loving heart and because it makes us feel good.
I let my dog do things like this:
So now and then he does things like this:
Fashion also serves a functional purpose (i.e., warmth) and that’s a whole other blog post.
Stop judging us. I choose to put clothes on my dog. If he ever showed signs of disliking it, I’d stop. He’s six years young now and I am tired of defending myself. I felt compelled to share the Leslies of the world and how she is one voice online but not alone. I know there are many naysayers out there. Knock it off. Give us a break. Smile. Be kind. Donate 5 bucks to a shelter when you feel like being rude to a pet parent. Don’t type mean things online: It just isn’t nice. Find a hobby. Do something outdoors. Just let us dress our pets in peace.
And if the day comes that you are certain an animal is being abused or compromised, then most certainly advocate on their behalf and don’t let that behavior continue.
Until then, try a little kindness. You’d be amazed how good it feels not to judge people: Especially the ones you don’t know. Now I’m off to measure my dog for a new tux: He’s got a red carpet gala at a major event this weekend. And it feels oh so good to share that.