MUTTerings With Nikki Moustaki: Playing Halloween Dressup

Blogger and pet expert Nikki Moustaki has some doggy fun this HOWL-oween!

Happy Howl-o-ween! I’m sorry, I can’t help being (candy)corny this time of year. Halloween is my favorite holiday because it makes me infinitely happy to see dogs in costumes. It’s the time of year when passionate dog owners let their dogs’ inner ballerina, bumblebee, or princess shine.

Perhaps some dogs don’t appreciate being outfitted like Frankendog, Tinkerbull(dog), and dog-la-gators, but you wouldn’t know it by the waggy tails at the 11th Annual Howl-o-ween Bash thrown by Animal Fair, benefitting the Humane Society of New York, at the Copacabana in New York City, where I went to celebrate a holiday that used to be the domain of children in ghost costumes. Move over kids. There’s a new dog in town – and she’s dressed like a sheep.

Even though the party was at the Copa, I didn’t see any show girl dogs, but there were plenty of show-off dogs, including my friend Tara De La Hoz’s Boston Terrier, Bella, dressed as Katy Perry, complete with blue wig and cupcake bra – straight off the set of the Wendy Williams show.

A big theme for the night – and not a surprising one – was the “doggy and me” duo, where the owner and dog dressed in a theme. A Native American princess, Karen Biehl, in full headdress, carried her tiny Chihuahua, Eli, wearing the same costume. Wendy Diamond, hostess of the evening, came as a peacock – and so did her Maltese, Lucky Diamond.

Of course, Pearl and I would not miss a chance to dress up as a pair, so I went as Little Bo Peep and Pearl was my little lost sheep. Pearl is a full-figured gal, so I had to safety pin her sheep outfit on as reinforcement to the Velcro fasteners. Off we went onto the streets of New York, tourists snapping photos of us the whole way to the venue, which was half a block from  Times Square.

On my walk to the party I had some hope that I’d be a contender in the costume contest. The second I walked into the ballroom, I realized that I shouldn’t have bothered to practice my acceptance speech. The most creative dog owners in NYC were out in force, and they weren’t going down easy. Each costume was more outrageous and detailed than the next. One guy was a Vegas-style circus ringmaster with his small dog as a lion. Another guy showed up as Frankenstein – with his two Yorkies as Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein – and won first place.

There were celebrities, including Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed, but my eyes were on the dogs in their costumes. Mingling through the crowd, I had the idea to let Pearl off leash and then go searching for her as my lost sheep, asking people along the way, “Have you seen my sheep?” I’m a sucker for authenticity. Pearl is so well trained, however, that she never left my sight. She did manage to find two other dogs in the exact same sheep outfit – their owners would not allow me to keep them, though. Didn’t they know that I was Little Bo Peep and all sheep are mine? Get with the program, people.

I have an admission to make. I am now, and have always been, extremely envious of people who make unique costumes for their dogs. I have amassed dozens of store-bought costumes over the years, everything from sailor to lobster to hotdog, but I have never made one of my dogs a costume. “Store bought” is not going to win the first prize vacuum cleaner in the Halloween contest, now is it?

So, tell me, have you ever made a costume for your dog? What was it and how did you do it? And my biggest question is – how did you get it to stay on? Maybe next year Pearl and I will make a play for first place, but we’re going to have to get creative.

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