Cotswold Mother: Dressed for dogging

Dressed for dogging

Dressed for dogging - Credit: Archant

You can make an Afghan from an Afghan, turn Tabby into trousers and probably even recycle your rabbit, says Clare Mackintosh.

Why do people dress up their pets? I don’t mean blankets for thoroughbred horses, or even coats for whippets (although I can’t help but feel they look a little ridiculous. ‘Get a proper dog’, I always want to say. ‘One with fur’).

No, I’m talking about animals wearing clothes. Cats in red riding hood costumes; dogs dressed as Batman; rabbits in sailor hats. If you don’t believe me, Google them – they’re all there. In every photo the owners are sporting clinically insane smiles (and occasionally matching costumes), while the pets’ expressions range from mildly bemused to pretty pissed off. And I don’t blame them. What self-respecting Boxer wants to wear a tutu? Besides, the day my pets earn the right to flick covetously through the latest Boden catalogue is the day they start contributing to the household income.

Right now, if there’s any spare cash to be spent on pet-related fashion, it will be invested in my own wardrobe, not that of my furry friend. I’m always delighted to be given more excuses to buy clothes (I am contemplating taking up golf, purely for the nice-coloured polo shirts), and the acquisition of a dog has provided such opportunities in spades.

After Maddie arrived with us I spent a few weeks doing research, eyeing up fellow dog-walkers and jotting down my findings in a little notebook, before heading out to buy the perfect dog-owning outfit. Wellies, naturally (in a colour and pattern combination described incomprehensibly on the website as ‘witty’), a waxed jacket (ankle-length, to guarantee not only a dry bottom, but also the concealment of pyjama bottoms when I haven’t bothered to get dressed before the school run), and a wide-brimmed waterproof hat to stop my mascara running in the rain.

I have also been able to splurge happily on accessories such as a nifty bone-shaped case to conceal dog poo bags. I did buy something which clips to my belt to carry dog treats, but it makes me look like an American tourist, so instead I keep it in one of the capacious pockets of my waxed jacket, where it isn’t nearly so handy. The shopping possibilities are endless. I haven’t had this much fun since I took up horse-riding and got to buy skin-tight jodhpurs, knee-length boots and quilted gilets (to be worn with the collars permanently turned up).

As a criterion for which pet to choose, it’s as good as any other. Sure, consider the vet bills; the walks; the way it’ll get on with the children, but above anything else, consider how it will impact on your wardrobe. You could buy the kids a guinea pig, but what good will that be? Despite extensive Googling I have struggled to find any outfits suitable for guinea pig owners. Buy a falcon, however, and you get to shop for those cool leather gloves. It’s a win-win situation.

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But if you’re a die-hard cat fan, don’t despair. In my efforts to find sartorial options for other small-animal lovers I have come across a book – now sadly out of print – called Knitting with Dog Hair. The tag-line to this handy manual (as if you needed any more encouragement to buy it) reads: ‘Better a sweater from a dog you know and love, than from a sheep you’ll never meet.’ Well, quite. Although given the amount of fox poo which finds its way into Maddie’s coat, I’m not certain I’ll be welcomed with open arms at the NCT reunion coffee morning if I’m wearing a creation spun from her discarded hair.

Still, if you’re keen to wear your Persian’s fur somewhere other than on the seat of your suit trousers, you’ll be relieved to know that Knitting with Dog Hair doesn’t discriminate. You can make an Afghan from an Afghan, turn Tabby into trousers and probably even recycle your rabbit. Just steer clear of anyone with allergies.


This article is from the November 2013 issue of Cotswold Life magazine

For more from regular contributor Clare Mackintosh visit her website:

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