Most dogs don’t like to wear anything on their heads.
Believe it or not, they probably don’t like wearing costumes either. But, no one ever asked them. Pet parents (yes, parents, not owners) just dress them up and prance them around, especially on Halloween.
I must confess, I’m one of those parents. Every year on Halloween, we dressed up our Old English Sheepdogs in different outfits. Children used to come by and ask: “What are they wearing this year?” We had all kinds of outfits for our “girls,” but neither one would wear anything on their heads.
Well, then, we adopted a little boy.
And he loved wearing costumes and hats of all sorts. He wore Harley-Davidson jackets and matching hats in light denim, and later, in all black (our biker boy). He wore clown hats, berets, Scottish tams, cowboy hats and even bug costumes with antennae.
Our little boy was special in other ways. He had many phobias. He was afraid to be outside, scared to take a walk, petrified to hear loud noises, frightened to see anything move, even tree branches when they swayed in the wind. So, to boost his confidence, I made him a Certified Pet Therapy dog. He loved learning and I enjoyed training him. He mastered many different tricks. I slowly desensitized him, as much as I could, to loud noises, and worked with him in a variety of settings. I introduced the READ (Reading Education Assistance Dog) program to three local libraries and brought him in every week, so kids could read to him. After greeting him at the door, the eager children would sit in a circle around him, as he quietly sat down on his blanket. He would patiently stay there until all the kids were finished reading to him.
Oh, he loved the attention. He even would pick out the book from several the kids placed in front of him. I taught him a “touch” command. So, when I asked him to pick the book, I quietly told him, “Touch,” and he would put his paw on one of the books. It was the cutest thing. The kids loved it. They would rest their heads on his back, using it like a pillow, while they told him stories. After they read their books, he would do various tricks, like crawl, play dead, give nose kisses, wave, pray, and so on, to reward the little readers for working so hard.
One year, on Halloween, I took him to the library.
He arrived as an 88-pound bumblebee, with wide wings and yellow-and-black antennae. The next year he was a ladybug in bright red wings and red-and-black antennae.
He kept his costume on in the evening. When the neighborhood children stopped by to get their candy, they were greeted by the biggest ladybug they had ever seen. I believe he thought everyone came just to see him. Who needed candy? He was the treat. He was a giant ladybug.
My husband said, “He can’t be a ladybug, he’s a boy.” I answered, “Well if there weren’t any boy ladybugs, there wouldn’t be any more ladybugs at all.” Well, the kids didn’t care if he was a boy or a girl. They loved his ladybug outfit.
The truth is it doesn’t matter if someone didn’t think he shouldn’t be a ladybug.
What mattered was all the joy he brought to everyone who saw him. Although everyone loved all his costumes, the ladybug was the bigger hit. Maybe it was the red color against his grey-and-white fluffy coat. Maybe it was the whimsical antennae bouncing on his head. Maybe it was just that he was comfortable being who he was: an adorable Old English Sheepdog. The truth is, detachable wings and antennae didn’t bug him at all.
A boy can be a ladybug. Because he was happiness wrapped in fur.