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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Showing off dragon clothes
Susan Glynn Mulé is the author of Princess Tien, available at Amazon.