Project Dogway

Every year, my mother buys a new sweater for Phoebe: the Fambly Dog, mostly because living in rural Pennsylvania means that there’s non-zero chance that she’ll get shot by inebriated hunters while she’s out sniffing around the yard. Mom used to dress us in bright colors for much the same reason.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of getting some sort of warm garment for the Boxhound — partly because she shivers pathetically whenever the temperature drops below 60 degrees* and partly because I spent much of our morning walk stand-while-the-pup-sits-and-sniffs-the-air yesterday watching the cops investigate a hit-and-run involving a dog — and by the way, here’s some free advice: if you’re ever driving along and you collide with a dog so hard that the impact breaks bits off your car, you should immediately stop driving and call the appropriate authorities — especially if the poor animal then drags itself to the side of the road to die in agony, leaving a trail of blood in its wake. Really, it’s the least you can do.

I’m not sure when the accident happened, I’m mostly guessing from what I saw after the fact — you know, the splinters of headlight and bumper, the blood puddle…oh, and the dog corpse. But I was very impressed by the police officers who went door-to-door, trying to ID the poor creature (no collar) and inform his owner of his untimely demise. So that said owner wouldn’t drive by and suddenly see his/her dead dog lying in the road. Or, you know, in case there are kids around. Because dead dogs make kids cry, and — unlike their fictional counterparts — don’t win awards for doing so. Ultimately, their canvassing of the area failed to turn up an owner, so the cops bagged the dog for animal control.

Keeping in mind that I sob myself sick whenever ANYTHING dies — goldfish, accidentally stepped-on insects, fictional animated robots (even just temporarily)** — I’ve decided that perhaps a brightly colored piece of canine apparel constitutes a necessary purchase.

The first obstacle to surmount is that most canine clothing is designed for purse-sized pups, whereas Camille is currently 40 lbs. and growing. (The vet swears that she’ll plateau, gaining another couple inches and maybe five more pounds before she reaches adulthood, but I am positive that this is vet-speak for “Enjoy your pony-sized mutt, you poor bastards!”)***

The second obstacle is my fella,  who is apparently the Tim Gunn of dog accessories.

“I find this color scheme to be…uninspired,” he said, rejecting one potential candidate.

“Dude, it’s a dog sweater. Can they even see color?” I replied.

He shrugged in his “You and I both know that I’m right” manner and we moved on, because I really didn’t have the energy to argue. I imagine that this process will take years, punctuated by comments like, “We want to be careful that the pattern doesn’t overshadow the actual dog” or “I’m concerned that this sweater will make our puppy look matronly — after all, she’s not even fully grown!”

I was on the verge of suggesting a neon vest with reflectors, like cyclists have, but I could more or less predict the response: “it’s important that we use our accessories judiciously, if at all.”

*I do the same thing, actually. I sympathize.
**Ask my fella about The Iron Giant. Just ask him. Ask about how I screamed, “WHY DID YOU SHOW ME THIS, YOU MONSTER!?!?” and then ask about how I punched his arm with my feeble little angry fists until my grief and fury were spent.
***I suspect that 45 lbs. is about the limit of the human imagination when it comes to dogs. Anything bigger than that probably prompts even devoted dog people to say, “You know what? I changed my mind.” That is why vets lie.

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