Remember when fall used to mean raking leaves and picking apples? Or, re-wiring the doorbell on Mischief Night, so when kids touched it, it would singe their eyebrows off? Well my friends, no more. I just read a piece by Maureen Kochan on the DogChannel in which she made it clear what fall is about now: Buying new clothes for your dog. While I read this article, I saw that my Bichon, Fluffy, was also reading it, over my shoulder. He then made it clear that his old sweater and collar just didn’t cut it anymore. So, we had to go shopping. I have no one to blame but myself. I’m the one who taught him to read.
I pulled two chairs up to the computer (one with a phone book for extra height), typed in “Dog Fashions,” and we began. The first thing that caught Fluffy’s eye was a velour warm-up suit. It was hooded, ribbed, and had trim at the cuffs. The ad said it was “Perfect for sleepwear or outerwear.” I tried to tell the dog that an outfit with so many options could possibly drive him mad. That he might start combining these ideas and develop a terrible need to put on this suit at midnight and go sleep in the backyard. In the middle of my lecture, Fluffy shook his head, moved the mouse, and clicked “Buy.” For my part, when I saw the price, I yelped. And slid right off my phone book.
Next, it was on to coats. We went with the houndstooth dog coat, even if, I told Fluffy, this name was hopelessly redundant. His look seemed to say that he wished I knew less about grammar and more about hitting the “Buy” button. I was also worried about the ad’s claim; that this item would give “any dog an aristocratic look.” Fluffy already had “aristocratic” down and was starting to work on “condescending.” Soon, though, the coat was his.
After that came a collar with purple glitter, which would supposedly make my pal look like “Ziggy Stardust.” This provoked another discussion. I told Fluff that David Bowie had been coasting since the ‘70s, and I really didn’t think the guy deserved any nods from us. Guess who won that round? Yep, the dog hasn’t stopped strutting and humming “Suffragette City” since that day.
We closed out with a fringed pink poncho and some glitzy glamour necklaces. Instead of Bowie, these accessories made Fluffy look like one of The New York Dolls. Which meant we had made a little progress. I think.
So, dog owners, are your little woolly friends going around in last year’s ponchos and car coats? All I can say is: Get shopping! And if you think the fall is costly, let me put things into perspective for you. When the spring fashions come out, the prices will be even more alarming. And you’re going to miss these autumn days like you can’t believe.
Peter Gerstenzang writes monthly humor columns for New York and Connecticut magazines. His work has appeared in SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, DOG FANCY and others. He hopes someday to be half as good a man as Fluffy is a dog.