I must say I am generally not a fan of putting clothes on animals. Animals are not children, and even if you put them in adorable sweaters and carry them around like infants, they still are NOT HUMAN. They don’t want to be human, either; they want to sniff poop and run free and do all the things that species with little or no shame like to do. They are very well aware that they are not supposed to be wearing clothes, and don’t you think for a minute that they do just because you ooh and aah over them and tell them they are SOOOO CUUUUUTE. In fact, I would be willing to run a study with the hypothesis that animals that are more often forced to wear human clothing and unbearably precious accessories turn to snappishness and violence more than other animals who are left to their fur. If you furthermore ask them to jump through hoops or walk on their hind legs or ice skate, you may be asking for trouble. R.I.P. Smokeynov.

But today I decided to put stuff on my dog Ellie and take her out to the OOGCP’s Dog Halloween Costume Contest. Why not, I said to myself, the kids will enjoy it and score a couple of free hot cocoas, I will enjoy it and will score another delicious coffee, and the dog might not hate it too much. I didn’t have any idea at 11AM what on earth I was going to use for a costume for her, and the contest started at 2PM. MissSeven, Mr11, and I made a last-minute dash out to PETCO and the party/Halloween shop to see what we could find for her, but it was a no-go. She is a big girl – 110 lbs. – and almost all commercial dog costumes are made for tiny dogs. Perhaps this says something about owners of larger dogs. HMM.

So we came back and decided to root through the two big family Halloween storage containers to see if anything out of there would work. We have these lovely realistic vultures with actual feathers and everything from Martha Stewart, but I couldn’t think of a practical way to attach them to the dog’s shoulders, and I am pretty sure Ellie would have eaten them if I looked away for a fraction of a second. Mr11 pulled out his old martial arts gi and belt – too small. Wigs? Too cruel. MissSeven then pulled out a very big, very long red cape which looked quite lovely against Ellie’s lush black fur and we all agreed: Ellie was going to be The Devil. A fuzzy black scarf of mine served to gather and tie up the excess cape fabric and a set of devil horns and a dollar-sign necklace finished it off. Ellie, as patient an animal as exists, stood quietly as I tied the cape around her neck, put the bling over her head, arranged her new horns, and tied the scarf around her midsection in a big soft bow. She looked wonderful and ridiculous, so off we went, the kids bubbling with excitement in the back of the car while Ellie drooled on the seat.

We got there and parked and I adjusted the poor beast’s horns again as we walked over to the OOGCP patio. The kids were really delighted to see all the other dogs, and the dogs were pretty damn interested in each other too, although surely confused as to exactly what the hell was going on here. There were lots of smiles from the people watching and the occasional bursts of barking from those dogs who wanted to announce their status and opinion to the assembled. Ellie sniffed some dog noses and then resigned herself to possibly forever being The Devil and sat down, until it was time to parade in front of the judges. Mr11 took that picture, and you can see my awesome new boots, or one of them anyway.

Here are more photos of the dogs, pictures taken by me and Mr11:

The Grand Winner was the lovely Hula Dog, who was very excited about it.

Everyone clapped, and all the dogs got some delicious dog cookies for participating. MissSeven and Mr11 had fun talking about Ellie to people who stopped by to pet her. Pets can be such a nice way to connect with other people, and I am glad the kids can experience that.

A dog costume contest at a coffeehouse in a nice suburb is a long way from the campground in Central Washington where Ellie was finally rescued by some kind people who saw her living off garbage and handouts and her wits for months. They got her into the proper rescue situation where she was given good food and care, put her up on, where I saw her picture and HAD to meet her. I don’t know how we got so lucky as to have her but we do, and I promise not to make her wear clothes more than once a year, I swear.

The Devil came home after downing 4 cookies, went out to the backyard to pee, and promptly fell asleep.