DRESSING THE DOG
Chapter 4 (Part One)
“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”
– Edith Head
The years seemed to fly by and I was happy as a pig in mud. I was traveling between New York City and Florida, meeting up with friends that I had made in the doggie world and having the time of my life. I was entering fashion shows, going to doggie tea-parties, “doing lunch” with the girls and shopping at the most fashionable boutiques for doggies AND humans. Mummy said that I was ALMOST like a real child and people who met me agreed. I had better manners out in public than most REAL CHILDREN and I listened intently to Mummy as she gave me instructions. We were like peas and carrots and I was never more than a foot from her side. When we attended the “meet and greets,” I wasn’t the kind of doggie to really “get in there” and mix & mingle with all of the other dogs because I didn’t like being too far from Mummy… but I DID enjoy watching everyone else and my tail was always bouncing about. The fashion shows were always fun and were DEFINITELY a sight to behold! This was where the Mummies got to pull out the cool duds from our closets, and the little gowns that came down that runway would rival any gown seen on the red carpet in Hollywood, no kidding! Even though it was all in fun and only ribbons were handed out as prizes, there were always a few who got upset when they didn’t win. And I’m not talking about the little dog either. Some of the Mummies took these contests pretty seriously, but since we didn’t LIVE THERE and only saw these friends a few times a year, we looked at these events as more of a “social outing” where we could catch up on what had happened since the last time we saw everyone. We had grown to care very deeply for the people in our doggie groups and it was always exciting to just see them again, no matter WHERE the event was held. The tea-parties, luncheons and dinners were the most fun because there was no competition, so those were the ones that we liked to focus on.
It was so much fun when a group of us would get together and meet up at a restaurant where they would allow doggies INSIDE to dine. These places were rare but they could be found if you knew the right people and had the right connections… and we did. Our group usually consisted of smaller doggies that could be carried in purse-type carriers and some were in doggie strollers, but one thing was an absolute necessity. You couldn’t be a barker. If you started barking and disturbing the other diners, the whole group might be asked to leave the restaurant and then YOU wouldn’t be asked to join the group again, so only the BEST BEHAVED doggies went on these indoor dining excursions. On one certain occasion, that I remember un-fondly, as it turns out, we were with a wonderfully behaved group and dining at an exceptional lounge of a nice restaurant in New York City. I was in my posh carrying bag next to Mummy and she had ordered an assortment of tiny plates. It’s important to note here that I had only had a small bit of kibble before heading out to dinner… and that’s all I will say. It was hardly enough to keep a baby bird alive… in my opinion. The appetizers came, and I’m not sure what they all were except that one of them was BEEF of some sort. As in mignon. On some sort of puff pastry. With a bit of gravy. I can’t really remember the whole incident. Honestly, it was a LONG TIME AGO, but in the interest of full disclosure, I want to be upfront and tell you the good with the bad in this story. All I can say is that at that moment, all of my INTENSE training from PetSmart just left my mind — it was embarrassing. –SIGH- I jumped from my bag quicker than you can say ‘Jack Sprat’ and the plate had one less beef appetizer. It wasn’t one of my shining moments. Mummy sat wide-eyed, looking around the table, wondering if I would be the NEXT doggie asked to leave the group… but no one said a thing. They were all busy trying to get their own plates situated on the table. I had dodged a bullet… but you can be sure that Mummy took care of me later with a stern reprimand.
Clothes, clothes and more clothes. Mummy loved getting beautiful clothes for me. I had the appropriate outfit for any occasion that should come up on my little social calendar. Most of the outfits were little walking harnesses since those were the most useful, but I had tiny little dresses just in case I needed one for a luncheon and I had the appropriate gown for the most formal occasions! These were like a second skin to me. When it was time to get dressed, I would turn around with my rear end facing Mummy so that she could first fasten the velcro properly around my neck, then she would turn me around and secure the belly strap. My hair was always pulled up in a little yorkie topknot and secured with a matching hair bow… only then was the picture complete. Never once did I balk at being dressed. Every outfit was nice and comfortable or at the first sign of distress, OFF it came… never to be worn again. People who don’t dress their little dogs don’t understand this interaction between the parent and their little dog. They think we are being tortured when in actuality, our parents make sure we are very comfy… and we are actually MORE spoiled than they ever WANT to believe.
Mummy was dressing me in mostly CUSTOM dog clothes by this point. These are the kind where you send in your measurements to a “designer” and they make the outfit to your EXACT measurements. Many people don’t realize that there are REALLY designers that make nothing but dog clothes, and they are S-E-R-I-O-U-S about their work too! This is a real business for them, and the DRAMA that goes on in the designing world is no different than that of the human designers. In fact, it might even be worse! In all the years that I have been working with designers, I have heard my share of stories too… from both sides of the sewing machine. One story that comes to mind was about a little dog named Larry. His real name was Prince Lawrence of Arabia, but no one ever called him that. One of my favorite designers made Larry a golden harness, because he was so royal and everything. It had a little bejeweled crown sewn onto the back, to remind everyone of his royal lineage. When it was presented to Larry’s mom at one of the events, with payment expected at that time, the mom showed it to Larry and turned to the designer and said softly that “Prince Lawrence” would like it better if the little bejeweled crown was about ¼-inch HIGHER on the back of the harness. “Lawrence said” it seemed a teeny, tiny bit too low. Uh-huh. Doing this repositioning would require a few hours of work, I kid you not. And so, the designer asked if she could she buy Prince Lawrence of Arabia a bag of dog treats and be forgiven instead? The mom agreed, but the designer had to also discount the harness. Now, to be fair, you had the other side too… where a friend of mine had ordered a lovely ball gown for a HUGE fashion show. The event of the year, it was!!! She ordered the gown MONTHS in advance and the week of the event, it still had not arrived. One day before she was to leave, it came… and it came in 2 sizes too SMALL! There were still pins in the dress where the designer had obviously not even FINISHED the dress, so my friend did what she could to piece it together and somehow her dog managed to wear it… but she was less than happy. OH THE DRAMA OF IT ALL!!!! The names of the good, the bad and the ugly got traded like baseball cards at a flea market, and once you had your favorite designers, you held onto them like a Babe Ruth rookie card!
The dog trips were EXHILERATING, but we always had to go home… and once we got back, I had to share Mummy’s attentions with my siblings which was always a rude awakening after getting so much of it on the trips. Mummy would snuggle and cuddle with the rest of the gang while I stood off to the side in a state of shock. It gave me quite a turn, I have to admit. I mean, you could have stabbed me in the eye with a fish fork and I wouldn’t have been any more shocked. But there I was, being treated like a second class citizen. I held my chin up and endured it with only a few low rumbles from the back of my throat, but it was a trial… I tell you. A. Trial.
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