Dogs in Clogs, Cats in Hats
Everyone has seen it at some time or another. Whether it’s a dog with a raincoat or a cat in a hat they never fail to raise a sceptical eyebrow at the absurdity of it all. Why anyone would choose to dress up an animal in clothing seems as ridiculous as an inflatable dart board but we still all see it on a regular basis. That said, I took a look into reasons why someone might do this and there are in fact occasions when animals wearing something makes sense… and others where it REALLY doesn’t. Read on…
Care of the Animal
There are indeed at least a couple of instances where an animal wearing clothing can be acceptable and this is a somewhat unfortunate reason which I had come across recently. The reason it is so ridiculous to dress up most animals is that they have fur. That is their natural coat and people have used animal skins and fur for warmth for years so clearly it is effective.
Unfortunately there are rare cases where a beloved pet could suffer from an unfortunate skin condition that either requires them to be shaved semi-regularly to prevent infection or actually inhibits their ability to grow fur. In the wild this would result in the animal being unable to survive, but in a warm caring home they can thrive and wearing a padded covering to go outside for a walk is a small price to pay for a happy animal.
Ok, now for a less reputable reason to dress an animal. The reasons that people began keeping animals were for mutually beneficial purposes. Dogs are the closest tie between animals and man and have been for thousands of years, hence the term “Man’s best friend”. Dogs have been used in this time to assist in hunting with their brilliant sense of smell as well as early warning alarms and protection. This is as true today as it was with early man.
What dogs are not, are children. Yet some people seem to have lost sight of our true connection with animals and as a result feel that it’s only fitting to dress and feed them like a child. I’m not saying not to love your pets, but treat them as such and don’t humanise them. Animals don’t enjoy this. They are being removed from their natural state of existence, so take off the sports coat and stick to just a collar.
Conditions Require It
As the pendulum swings again we once more see a valid reason to dress an animal. Animals have been transported across continents by man for hundreds of years. You may not know for instance that there are wild camels in Australia descended from those brought from Afghanistan over 150 years ago as they were better for navigating the desert. In this case the climate and landscape of Australia is suitable for the imported animal, but this is not always the case.
You may have seen on occasion horses wearing coats. Sometimes these are used as a method of simply keeping biting flies off of them but some thicker jackets are used from time to time for warmth. This is because while some hardier horses are adapted to the cold, there are varieties that are not. Afghan horses for years have been imported to the United States and are simply not suited to some of the northern winters. Consider the difference in temperature between Afghanistan’s desert landscapes and upper New York in winter. These animals have very light coats and as such a jacket covering their body for warmth at times may be necessary.
They Regard Them as an Accessory
Ok, worst case scenario. Some people are simply vacuous self-absorbed individuals who have lost touch with the real world. Consider the Paris Hilton’s and Nicole Richie’s of this world. They have no appreciation for the value of money nor understand anything other than shameless self-promotion and celebrity status. Unfortunately there seem to be hoards of (mostly impressionable young women) who think this is just grand.
These are the kinds of people who can’t see beyond the rims of their own Gucci sunglasses and see their pets as no more than an accessory or status symbol. As such they need to dress their dog to match the colour of their new iPhone or in an adorably funny t shirt with frills.
The fact is that pets are not status symbols. They are living creatures just like ourselves and should be treated as such. “Rant over”.
Stan Darsh is a fashion designer. He believes that funny t shirts are for people, not pets.