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Published May 23, 2018

My Dog Loves Wearing Fancy Clothes & Hair-Bows

I‘m a dog traditionalist. I don’t believe dogs need runway couture clothes, Louis Vuitton totes, and prima donna sunglasses.

Sure, fluffy white toy-poodles look adorable with embarrassingly pink bows clamping their nimbus-cloud bangs away from their eyes. But the pet-owners who play Barbie dress-up with their toy breeds are the same owners who carry their tiny dogs in $200 purses and name them “Princess Lulu FeeFee Unicorn Rainbow III.”

Nope. That’s not me. Give me a good old-fashioned dog named Spot romping through the park buck-naked with a squeaky toy and a dream.

Unfortunately, like a rebellious teenager hoping to shatter their parents’ self-image, my dog Willow doesn’t care how her personal style reflects on me. She wants pink bows, frilly dresses, and fancy sweaters.

Why do pet-owners force their dogs to wear clothes?

You know, I honestly used to have this same opinion. I thought “Oh, those poor dogs, being forced to wear human clothes.” I scoffed at Halloween costumes for dogs; I laughed at tiny fancy bow-ties that clip onto dog collars.

After all, clothes are for humans. And many pet-owners believe that putting clothes on a dog is unnatural. In fact, some veterinarians and experts believe forcing a dog to wear clothes could cause anxiety and discomfort. According to Prima, “It turns out your poor little pet might be suffering in silence while you chuckle at him in his fancy dress and share pics with your friends because costumes could be damaging his health and wellbeing, say the experts.”

I’d never want to make my dog suffer! And therefore, every time I saw a human walking their dog down the street in hair-bows and a frilly skirt, I silently judged them.

Now, many pet-owners are judging me the same way. I see them, squinting judgmentally at Willow’s pretty pink bows. I try to stammer, “No, you don’t understand. She likes these bows. She wants to wear them!”

“Riiiiiight,” one person actually said to me. “Your dog wants to wear pretty clothes. It’s the dog’s decision.”

I glared at Willow. Speak up, Willow! You tell them!

Willow remained silent, quietly looking simultaneously adorable and embarrassing in her pretty pink hair-bows.

How do I know my dog loves wearing clothes?

During one particularly bitter cold winter, I broke down and bought a warm sweater/coat, complete with little booties, for Willow, so she would be warm when we walked in the snow. I suspected she wouldn’t enjoy wearing them, but I knew she needed to stay warm in the snow, which practically came up to her little chin.

And guess what? She LOVED that darn thing!

As soon as we pulled it out, she literally dove through the hole for her head. She marched around with a little more pride during that walk. And every subsequent time we’d unpack it from the closet, she’d start wiggling excitedly, eager to put it on.

And then I started noticing trends I had tried not to notice before. For example, after she’s groomed, the groomer always puts these stupid pink bows in her hair. But she loved those stupid pink bows. She’d march around with her head high, tapper-toeing and feeling cute and sassy.

Willow’s entire personality changes when we put clothes on her. She gets extra excited, and she smiles a lot more. She becomes more outgoing, as if she hopes people will see her in her new digs.

I tried to prevent my dog from becoming “too prissy.”

Although she’s little and fluffy, I raised Willow to enjoy wrestling and being tough! She loves mud, splashing in the water, getting rowdy and wrestling! But you know what? She also loves cute clothes.

And although it’s embarrassing for me to walk down the street with a fluffy little dog in a sweater and hair bows (people give me the same eyerolls I used to give to other owners of pets with clothes), I buy clothes for Willow now. For Christmas she got a special new “Christmas Sweater” that she got to wear for all our family gatherings. As soon as she “unwrapped” the present, she recognized that it was clothes, and she stuck her head through it before we’d even offered to help!

She loves clothes; they make her feel “special.” And I love her, and I love seeing her happy, confident, outgoing, and even sassy.

So I’ll endure the silent judgement and eye-rolls from other pet owners, who probably honestly think I’m “one of those people” who forces my little fluffy dog to wear human-clothes because I want to play Barbie dress-up.

I’ve learned my lesson. Sometimes dogs just want to wear clothes.

So next time you see a puffy poodle with pink bows, or a chunky bulldog with a fancy necktie, think before you judge. As strange as it sounds, it might really be the dog’s choice.

And Willow does look super cute in her outfits.

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  • heather

    Heather

  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. All my articles.

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