News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 16, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: No pet costumes for this Halloween

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Ed and I were old enough to know better, but we got our laughs in a rather cruel way. We caused Lady, the family collie, a lot of chagrin by dressing her up in “people clothes.”

It was bad enough to put her in a pair of Dad’s shorts, but when we tied our tennis shoes onto her rear feet and laughed like maniacs as she clumped away from us, we had crossed the line. She didn’t nip us, but maybe she should have.

I revisited that event which so shamed Lady after reading the other day that American pet owners are predicted to spend more than $3 million to tog out their furry companions for Halloween. You can do it cut-rate and buy a ready-made costume, or you can be creative and do it yourself. I was impressed by the ingenuity of one pet owner who outfitted her Doberman with a sort of take-off on a sandwich board sign. It fit rather like a saddle across the dog’s back, and on both sides of the dog was a giant dog biscuit. Clearly the dog would rather have been somewhere else.

Owners of smaller dogs tend to go for cute, something like bunny ears maybe?

It doesn’t stop with dogs. Cats can be costumed, too. I don’t know about your cat, but our cat, “Sour Puss,” would have slashed us deep and often if we had come at her with bunny ears.

I can’t imagine doing up a hamster or a ferret and can’t guess what you’d do with a pet snake. Maybe a small bell tied to its tail would convince it that it was a rattlesnake?

Our dogs were strictly dogs. One cold winter we decided that Huckleberry needed a dog sweater for those long, cold, after-supper walks. We found one in a baby blue which we thought was perfect for our male dog. Huck didn’t think so. Maybe he was more macho than we thought. We always thought the neighbor’s dog made a cutting remark and Huck sailed into the only dog fight of his career with us. He came out of it with his sweater in tatters and a satisfied smirk.

We no longer have a dog, but we do have four granddogs. I checked with our sons and neither plans to tog them out for Halloween. Diedre has very short hair and loves her sweater, but that hardly counts.

As for Popeye, he is heavily insulated with blubber and looks funny even without a costume. Indy is too old to put up with any of that nonsense, and Rose, usually highly cooperative, won’t even be asked to provide laughs this Halloween.

All four of our granddogs will do any trick-or-treat capers as the dogs they are. I hope they collect a dog bone or two. I’ll send any money I might have been tempted to spend on a costume to the Humane Shelter.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Her columns have appeared in this page for more than 20 years. Send e-mail to