• Jade

Why do we Dress Up our Pets?


We've been bedecking and bedazzling animals from the second we could coax clothing on them. Elephants, cats, sheep, Jemima Puddle-ducks, dogs, fuzzy wuzzy bears, the other primates, even Hanna Barbera dinosaurs, did and do, wear a boggling array of outfits. Why on earth do we do it?


According to Wikipedia, circa 3000 BC Egyptian tombs contained mummified dogs wearing decorative leather collars with carved 'images' of hunts. People have been expanding on those storied collars ever since.


Early 1900's royalty dressed their dogs in outfits similar to their own; the story that those garbed dogs told, was they were Royal furry children, the King and Queen probably spent more time with their dogs than they did with their actual offspring.


Around the same time, an American photographer by the name of Harry Whittier Frees born in 1879, created charming photo'd sets complete with props for kittens, puppies, rabbits and piglets who he dressed in outfits sewn for him by his housekeeper, Mrs. Annie Edelman. He 'rented' animals from neighbours and friends.


"He used one-fifth-of-a-second exposures and held the animals in position using stiff costuming, pins, and forks"


"The kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal. The pig is the most difficult to deal with, but effective on occasion. The best period of young animal models is a short one, being when they are from six to ten weeks of age. "

- Whittier Frees


Photos by Harry Whittier Frees, circa 1914.


I get what he was doing; the building of sets, stories told through dioramas with fork stabilized kittens. It's such an interesting art form. Oh, how he would have appreciated Instagram and kitten videos.


Similarly, the building of doll houses, the creating of stories set in those miniature rooms and the derived 'for the masses' Barbie Dream house, stems from our creative story telling origins....at the dawn of time.


I watched 'Dinner with Schmucks' and, like every other human on earth, fell in love with the mouse dioramas built by brothers and special effects artists Charles, Stephen, and Edward Chiodo I like to imagine that the mice they used had died of old age just prior to their eternal preserving.


Photos of animals wearing Abstract Pet Neckruffs; the beginning vestiges of stories being told. I love the photo of one of my sister's hens, dressed for a square dance(?) in her Ruffette, taken by her ever-artistic daughter, Olivia.


According to Wikipedia, although the word jester (a French derivative meaning storyteller) wasn't used until the 1500's, jester-ish distractions have been part of every society since Ancient Egypt; replaced eventually by theatre where more us could take part in the creative good stuff.


a little dog in a Minnie mouse costume
The satisfying amusement of dressing up our pets

Add the novelty of circuses (a dark stain in our history), the fact that animals will happily remain with us if fed and loved, and the effects of animator and iconic story teller, Walt Disney, and what do we get?


We are a world full of humans prone to distractions and creativity who have realized that dogs in Minnie Mouse costumes are funny. No forks required. Harry would have loved it.




Visit the pet painting page; your next pet outfit would be a fabulous prop in a painting. Portraits are perfect as gifts.


Want to read more about M's farm and the rest of their animals? Find their story in the post 'The Lineup at The Gate to The Funny Farm'.


... looks like we're all jesters now


Fashion designers like Ralph Lauren have lines of pet clothing; Louis Vuitton, and Swarovski have stunningly bedecked collars.

Fashion shows for animals are loved by way too many of us; we can only guess where it will continue to go.


Thank you for reading this post, and I hope these ideas have inspired you to get your art on with your pet..



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