The 1-year-old golden retriever was put in the cone because he kept licking his surgery incision

By Kelli Bender
April 12, 2019 03:10 PM
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Kaitlyn Cotter (2)

A Toronto, Ontario, dog owner is delivering the makeovers that matter.

Kaitlyn Cotter recently took her 1-year-old golden retriever Gus to the veterinarian to get neutered. The operation went smoothly, but there was a lot for the dog to adjust to afterwards.

“He wouldn’t leave his incision alone so he’s had to wear the cone to let it heal,” Cotter, a senior analyst at a telecommunications company, told PEOPLE.

Kaitlyn Cotter

Commonly known as the “Cone of Shame,” an Elizabethan collar is a plastic shield tied around a pet’s neck to keep them from licking injured, infected or healing areas. Understandably, most animals have trouble adjusting to the new accessory.

“He was not a happy camper,” Gus’ owner said of the dog’s first days with the cone. “It was really sad because he didn’t realize the width of the cone and would walk through doorways and the cone would bump off of the door frame! He’s adjusted to it now but is still hesitant to walk through narrow areas with it on.”

To help Gus, who loves to be the center of attention, emotionally adjust to the temporary neckwear Cotter decided to dress up her dog’s new duds.

“At Halloween my friend Hilary and I had a lot of fun dressing him up as a Ty Beanie Baby, and when we walked around the neighborhood he made everyone smile,” Cotter said of her inspiration. “I saw a dog dressed as a martini on Pinterest when I was looking for Halloween inspiration, so I knew when it was time to fix him I’d do something with his cone.”

Kaitlyn Cotter

Enlisting Hilary’s help again, Cotter and her friend came up with a series of adorable outfits for Gus and his cone, including an order of french fries, the Pixar lamp, and a scuba diver.

“My favorite one was the basketball net, that was our most time consuming to make because of the netting so we were really happy with how well it turned out, especially considering it was a last minute costume that we came up with!” Cotter said.

The 30-year-old and her friends weren’t the only ones tickled by Gus’ transformations, the photos Cotter shared on social media got lots of love too.

“It started with just sharing on my Facebook and Instagram, several people reached out or commented on how happy his costumes made them, a lot of people were waiting to see what Gus would be dressed up as next and said seeing him was the highlight of their day,” she said of the overwhelmingly positive response her cone creations have received.

Gus has just a few more days of cone time left before he is fully healed and free once again to visit his friends at the dog park and walk through narrow hallways without fear.

Cotter is looking forward to seeing Gus cone-free, even though she has enjoyed coming up with the costumes, and is sure he will still spread plenty of smiles without the medical accessory.

“I would like to work with Gus on becoming a therapy dog; he loves people, especially kids so I think he would be great for boosting people’s moods and putting smiles on some faces,” she said. “Gus is still pretty puppy-like so he needs to mature a bit more before he’ll be ready for that responsibility but I’m looking forward to working with him towards that goal!”