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The Struggle Is Real: When Pet Halloween Costumes Are More Trick than Treat

Updated

Meet Spoon (full name: Spoonie Luv). She’s my new puppy, conveniently adopted from Muddy Paws Rescue on Oct. 6, just in time to dress her up for Halloween! Or so I thought.

If the photo above looks like an adorable, impromptu moment of Halloween pet fun, well, the trick is on you. Actually, the trick was on me — and all the treats went to Spoonie as I tried to convince her to let me put her in one of the EIGHT costumes I got her.

First there was the purple monster (or Purple People Eater), which was my no. 1 choice. Spoon, however, thought this furry costume creation was a stuffed animal for her to rip apart. After wrestling with her for 15 minutes, I gave up and tried costume choice no. 2: the cupcake. This was a little bit more successful. However, there was no way she was letting me put the “cherry on top” on her head. That hat was obviously a new chew toy, duh.

And so we tried options three, four, five, six, and seven: a fireman, a policeman, Darth Vader, Yoda and a squirrel. No dice. Some were too small (even though she’s a puppy, pet costume sizes are hard to guesstimate), but all looked way too much like toys and got chewed on until a tug o’ war ensued. I had to admit defeat.

Except I couldn’t accept defeat. The whole point of training a dog is to assert yourself as master, or else your pup will never respect or listen to you. So I tried one more costume, the cowgirl, which serendipitously made a lot of sense since Spoonie is part Australian cattle dog, part hound (we call her a “cattle hound”). It’s in her doggie DNA to herd cows. It was perfect.

By some small Halloween miracle, Spoon let me put it on her long enough to take a few photos. The cowgirl hat didn’t fare as well — it got chewed, of course. After an hour of struggles, I got my pic. But there was no way Spoon was letting me keep this costume on her long enough to go for a walk in public, nor a romp in the dog park, let alone the N.Y.C. Dog Halloween Parade. *Sigh.*

In retrospect, I should’ve looked up some training articles about putting your dog in a costume in advance. Turns out this “trick” takes time with many pups, just like all the other teachings we try to instill within our dogs. Instead of a few days ahead, I should’ve started getting her used to her costume at least two or three weeks in advance. Slowly, she would (hopefully) have become acclimated to spending longer and longer periods of time in the costume, receiving treats for good behavior while wearing it (read: no chewing, tugging or rolling around). I also should’ve waited until the end of the night when she was full with food and really, super-duper tired instead of right when I got home from work. Spoon was too amped-up, and honestly, so I was I. Now I know better (and knowing is half the dog training battle).

 

Luckily, I do have another pet, my cat Ruki, who is older and more accustomed to the Halloween costume routine. We both thought she was done with the holiday festivities (er, torture?) once the puppy arrived this year. We were both mistaken.

Ruki, though usually a proud and haughty cat, often becomes uncharacteristically docile when I put her in costume. OK, depressed may be a better word. Some cats freak out, hide or squirm away, but Ruki’s typical costume reaction is to freeze and quietly slink down to the floor. She just gives up on life and let’s me do as I please.

 

Luckily, this year was an exception — in a good way. Perhaps after seeing her canine sister’s disastrous fashion show, Ruki decided to play teacher’s pet? I can’t be sure, but for her own purr-sonal reasons, Ruki stood perfectly still and purred her little heart out while I gently dressed her as Star Wars favorite, Yoda. In the wise words of the short, green sage from a galaxy far, far away: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Bark my words: Next year I’m getting these two into a couples costume. Any suggestions? Let @LuvSpoonie know.

*Some costumes in this article were provided by Amazon’s Pet Halloween Costumes Store