This isn’t another dog column.
Rather, it is, but it isn’t a lovefest about my dog, your dog or my friends’ puppy that looks like a dandelion gone to seed, only fluffier.
No, this is about dogs’ rights. Dogs have rights, you know. They don’t talk about them much, because they’re nice that way, unlike cats, who, if they didn’t talk about their rights and how they aren’t getting them, wouldn’t talk at all.
Dogs don’t make a big fuss about rights, which is no doubt why we get along with them so well. If dogs stopped speaking to us and refused to say why, it’s because we should know already; if they took offense at every little thing; and if, when we got home after a long day, they turned their backs instead of racing around with joy and a ball, we’d never have invited them to approach our primitive campfire in the first place.
But dogs are chill. Give them a few simple pleasures – a nap in the sun, a rub of the ears, a cup of whipped cream from the coffee shop – and they’ll hold a treat on their nose for your guests’ amusement all day long.
Cats, in contrast, are born emotionally self-sufficient. Disrespect a cat, and the cat will leave both the room and the hemisphere. For how long? For as long as the cat feels like leaving, that’s how long. Cats would sooner die of exposure than show weakness, whereas the self-esteem of dogs doesn’t hang on an unrealistic canine ideal. They’re pushovers and they know it. It’s one of their many loveable traits.
Dogs have limits, however. They do draw the line. Which brings us to dogs’ rights.
If I were an attorney, I’d be offering my services pro bono in a landmark class-action suit: Dogs v. the No-Shed Coverall.
I found it in a mail-order dog accessories catalog. Most of the items were predictable and not offensive: beds, toys, collars and crates. Most of the photographs showed the merchandise being enjoyed by all types and styles of Canis lupus familiaris, from spaniels and Boston terriers to Airedales and retrievers. Although I didn’t order anything, I enjoyed the free shipment of endorphins.
Then I saw it. After the dog traction socks and before the dog doorbells was the No-Shed Coverall, described as a “lightweight, breathable bodysuit.”
Two dogs modeled the coverall, which was exactly as described: a bodysuit, right down to each ankle. The big-eared smaller dog looked merely ridiculous, like Gollum in a onesie. The Dalmatian, on the other hand, looked like Marcel Marceau without stripes. He looked like a cat burglar. He looked like he was modeling turn-of-the-last-century men’s swimwear. He not only looked silly, he looked like he knew he looked silly. That was the worst part.
I showed the picture to my husband, who snorted. “How does anyone put it on?” is what he wanted to know. How indeed.
The No-Shed Coverall is 80% poly and 20% spandex. I avoid spandex, and I’ve read that those who wear it must lie flat on their backs, twist, jump and hop from one foot to the other to coax the stuff onto their bodies. Humans submit themselves to these indignities for vanity’s sake, but if the makers of this suit think dogs will be willing to wrestle on what amounts to a full wetsuit, they are in for a costly disappointment.
“Unzips for easy on/off and for potty breaks,” the ad copy says.
“Easy” is nonsense, of course. Nothing that snug comes off easily, as snakes will confirm. Then the same person must follow her dog around, poised to unzip the second the dog thinks about answering nature’s call. Knowing how often my dog answers, or pretends to answer, that call, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I’m also damp, especially if the suit closes at the belly. I can’t move that fast every time.
The fundamental question, of course, is why should dogs wear this outfit?
“Controls and contains shedding to keep your car and home free of dog hair, dander, dirt and dust,” the ad says.
To which I reply, anyone that determined to keep their car and home free of dog hair, dander, dirt and dust should buy a fish.
Write to Margo Bartlett at email@example.com.