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It’s National Dress Up Your Pets Day by Susan Glynn Mulé, Author

iguana dressed up as queen of hearts

Susan Glynn Mulé

It’s been quite a long time since I have written a post here, but January 14 is National Dress Up Your Pet Day and pets in clothing is simply one topic I find irresistible!

When one thinks of pets in clothes, the first thought is usually a dog in a funny t-shirt, silly pajamas, or perhaps an eye-catching costume. Sometimes, one comes across a picture of a cat in a fun outfit – and generally the cat looks most displeased. I have seen pigs in clothing, and that is already adorable and even the occasional opossum, looking absolutely precious. Mammals in clothing intrigue us because this creates a connection between animal and human.

igana in saints jacket
Saints fan.

Humans often connect to animals through some type of anthropomorphising (attributing human behaviors to animals). Often anthropomorphising an animal is perceived as a bad thing, a way of depriving an animal of its natural identity. I disagree. A certain level of anthropomorphising can create a connection between people and animals and people are more likely to support causes for animals they perceive as cute.

Woman with iguana
Susan and pet iguana in dragon costume

But what about reptiles? Can they ever be perceived as “cute?” Can some level of anthropomorphising dispel some of the adverse attention these animals have received for centuries, even millennia?

iguana in security uniform
Sebastian in security sweater

Interestingly, my first encounter putting a reptile in clothing happened purely by chance. I’d taken Kismet, my adult female Cayman Rock Iguana, to the vet. We stopped at the pet store on the way home and I naturally took her inside. Pet stores claim to welcome pets, right? As I was browsing with Kismet on my shoulder, a woman began to scream. She jumped up and down, pointing at my shoulder, exclaiming there was an alligator in the store.

iguana reading cookbook
Reading a cookbook at home

I shook my head, mystified, and turned around. I found myself facing a rack of dog clothing, and suddenly an idea flashed in my head. I grabbed a pink dog shirt that said, “It’s not easy being a princess,” brought it to the counter, paid for it, and put it on Kismet. Not two minutes later the very same woman approached me and said, “Oh! What a precious animal! What is she? May I pet her?” Unlikely as it may seem, I was totally polite, answered her questions, and allowed her to pet Kismet.

Iguana in pink hat
Kismet in pink hat

Anyone who knew Kismet, knows she was an attention hound and it didn’t take long before she made the connection between clothing and attention. Suddenly, we were visiting classrooms, attending reptile shows, and hanging out in pet stores. Kismet’s pink t-shirt was a total hit. Her wardrobe grew to include other pink princess shirts, a princess dress, and a assorted other outfits and before long, Kismet was a reptile ambassador, converting the most diehard haters into, well, if not lovers, at least people who became tolerant of and gained some appreciation for reptiles.

iguana in red shirt
Sporting a red shirt

Sebastian entered our family some time later and it was not long before he earned his own wardrobe: Mommy’s little prince, Security and FBI shirts (complete with dark sunglasses), a beach bum/skater-boy outfit, and a Yoda costume. Kismet, Sebastian, and our blue-phase green iguana, Tazumal, all acquired dragon wings. And people loved it. And people who never gave a thought to reptiles suddenly cared and were donating to save endangered iguanas and to reptile adoption agencies.

iguana on skateboard
Skater Boy

So, as we celebrate National Dress Up Your Pet Day, I want to celebrate reptile pets in clothes. Dogs in t-shirts are cute. Iguanas in t-shirts save lives.

iguana eating
Having a snack

 

Showing off dragon clothes

Three Iguanas as Dragons
Three Dragons
iguana in yoda costume
I’m Yoda!

 

book cover illustration
Tien, a Mountain Horned Dragon, is taken from her home in Vietnam and crammed into a cage at a pet store. One by one her friends are sold, but what about her? Will she find a good home?

Susan Glynn Mulé is the author of Princess Tien, available at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

woman and iguana
Susan and Sebastian
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