Pet costumes are the largest growing market in the Halloween industry, and pet clothing is becoming more popular both for practical reasons and for the fun factor. This may be due to the fact that, while some of us may not feel comfortable dressing ourselves in ridiculous fashions, there is just something intrinsically funnier about an annoyed-looking cat or a silly dog dressed in costumes.
This got me wondering about the history of dressing pets since we're not so self absorbed as to believe we are the first or the only ones to do so (though I must say we do have a really fun time with it, especially with all the modern tools and materials available to us.)
Sergeant Stubby, the WWI Hero While recently researching the history of the pit bull, I came across some photos of a famously attired hero dog named Sergeant Stubby who used his acute senses to protect his men from incoming artillery and gasses in the trenches of WWI. He was gifted with improving morale for the troops. After a region in northern France was regained by the Americans, the thankful women of the town fashioned a chamois trench coat for him. He was wounded in battle in 1918 but returned to the states as a national war hero. The coat became a canvas that was decorated with several medals he was awarded with for valor.
The Father of LOL Cats Harry Whittier Frees (1879-1953) was an American photographer who fashioned elaborate scenes and poses with various animals to create postcards and children's books. Between the time it took for his mother to sew the intricate costumes, and for him to build the props necessary to create these elaborate images, Frees would only photograph three months out of the year due to the patience and effort required. Rabbits, Dogs, and Pigs were often featured, but he found kittens to be the most amiable to the art form (imagine that!) Friends and neighbors supplied the adorable subjects. Remember, that these photographs were taken in the days before Photoshop and high-speed film. They are truly remarkable images, even if hidden hands were sometimes used to prop up the creatures! Playing Dress Up in the Good Ol' Days I may have been predisposed to a career in dog clothing as I recall dressing up our Beagle puppies in doll clothes. I learned quickly that the puppy I dressed would often be the one selected by the prospective new family. This vintage photo I found reminds me of the sweetness of my own days of dress up, doll carriages, and puppy breath! Portraits of the Vester and Whiting families and other members of the American Colony in Jerusalem between 1905 and 1913.
Modern Pet Couture
Fortunately, it is much easier to dress your pets these days! BaxterBoo.com carries the largest online selection of pet attire anywhere that ranges from the practical to the fantastical!
Lest you still think it odd to dress Fido and Fifi in clothes, I leave you with a couple of pictures of Extreme Grooming that let you see that the sky is the limit!
Featured vintage photo available here.