Monday, October 27, 2008

Treating pets as what they are: Animals

Finally I found someone who speaks up against something what has become very common these days and is bothering me for quite a while now. Around every holiday and now specifically with Halloween approaching, dressing up pets, specifically dogs, is on order again for many pet owners. Jaque Estes of the wrote on 10/25/08:
“If dressing up pet causes it stress, don't do it : My grandpuppy Kodi and I have something in common. Neither of us wants to wear antlers, cupid outfits or bunny ears to commemorate various holidays. But as Halloween approaches, I can only wonder what costume Rachel, my daughter-in-law, will try to convince the 2-year-old Welsh Corgi to wear.
Rachel is not the only pet owner who likes to dress her pup up. I have friends who have tried to dress up not one, but three dogs for their family Christmas photos. It is always humorous as none of the dogs wants to sit still for the photo, much less with reindeer antlers or Santa hats perched on their heads. In recent years the photo attire has been toned down to holiday scarves which seem to be more acceptable to the frisky canines.
So in an effort not to alienate loved ones and friends, and the rest of you who may actually have an animal that enjoys the attention they get while wearing a silly costume, I will not judge this practice. I will only make some suggestions to preserve your pet's well-being, if not his dignity.
Animals who resist being put in a costume shouldn't be forced to. They are not going to look cute if they are spending the night rolling around on the ground trying to free themselves. With the exception of those pets who seem to enjoy hamming it up -- and yes there are some -- dogs and cats forced into a costume can be stressed out and can hurt themselves trying to prevent the costume from going on, or in an attempt to get it off.
When dressing an animal up, it is important to make sure the costume is the right size and fits properly. Only use costumes designed for animals, not old baby doll outfits. Animal costumes often have Velcro closures that will allow the costume to fit snuggly but not constrict and can be quickly removed if necessary. The animal should be able to move freely in the outfit without falling out of it or tripping over decorations, and it should not restrict his ability to see, hear, bark or meow.
The best guideline is to use the same common sense you would for a toddler when selecting a costume for your pet. Elastic bands and small decorations should be avoided as they can cut off circulation and be ingested.
Try the costume on the dog before Halloween when you are less likely to be in a hurry. This will give you an idea of how your pet really feels about being dressed up and give you an opportunity to make sure the outfit fits properly, doesn't distress him or result in unusual behavior. A dog that doesn't want to be dressed up may resort to more aggressive behavior and nip or bark and not be worth the bother or fun for anyone.
I haven't mentioned cats as much. Although I have seen the occasional cat willing to be dressed up for "tea," most are not such good sports. Forcing a cat to do something they don't want can easily result in a lot of hissing and scratching and you having to change your costume from a fairy princess to a zombie to incorporate the bandages you will need to stop the bleeding. Cats don't like to wear collars and leashes, so a full costume most likely will not be well received.
Dressed or au natural, all pets should be watched carefully Halloween night, kept away from candles, candy and the front door. It is never a good idea to take your pet along with you to parties or trick or treating. The extra commotion, strange sights, sounds and smells may end up being the "trick" that lasts long after the last goblin has gone home.
And Kodi, be a good boy. It only lasts one night.”
While reading this, besides a few critical comments between the lines, such as “resistance”, “being forced”, “being stressed out”, this article concentrates more on what should be considered with regards to make the holidays and dressing up pets more safe. My comment on all of this focuses a lot more on dressing up an animal and speaks against it: I simply have no understanding whatsoever for people dressing up their animals. I like to have as much fun on holidays as everybody else. But the buck has to stop somewhere and that is in my opinion the animals. Sometimes I wonder if the pet owners who love to dress up their pets are the same owners who complain that their dogs bark. Who want them to stop walking circles before they relieve themselves. Who complain about too much or not enough attention they get from their pets. And just about everything else their pets are doing and so much more they expect of them. One can read about it every day when following the strangest inquiries on blogs and in newspaper columns. Asked by pet owners who simply expect their companion animals to act more like humans than like animals.
To those pet owners I have to say: If they bark let them bark, that’ is one of their ways to communicate. Unfortunately nature has not given them any other means to communicate. Nature also had no consideration for them being dressed up as some alien monster or cute clown. People, don’t forget: They are animals. They do not enjoy what you enjoy. Period. If some of them act like they enjoy being dressed up, please rest assured that they act this way because they want to please you. Because they unconditionally love you and respect you for many reasons. You should return the same unconditional love and respect. Rather than spending hundreds of Dollars on expensive dog costumes, invest that money in some healthy nutrition. This is an area where many pet owners should treat their dogs or cats much more like humans. Trust me, this is also something your pet would much more appreciate than being dressed up. If you love your cat or dog, let them be what they are: Domesticated, but not humanized canines and felines. Real animals, nut just dressed up as such.

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