Doggie Duds

Stop the inhumane clothing of animals

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: February 12, 2004

Doggie Duds

There was a dark blue Plymouth Voyager mini van breezing past me down the hill. I had noticed that the driver?s window was down and it looked like the driver had thick green feathered sleeve, and since I am a native of California, I wasn?t surprised.

As I eased to the stop light and looked over, there was a green parrot perched on the driver?s window sill, wearing a tiny red cowboy hat, who was sublimating flight by leaning out the window while getting his roll on. The bird made no attempt to fly away the minute the Goober pilot stopped and crushed out his Lucky Strike. No doubt a colonized house fowl.

Now, I?m no animal psychologist, but the parrot looked over at me with that huge glowing grey eye and was clearly embarrassed. There could have been several rational reasons for this: Exotic birds hate loud chopper motorcycles, lots of folks get humiliated when they have to ride in the mini van with the parents, or this parrot knew that his owner was completely nuts, but really needed the gig.

To some degree I knew how the bird felt. Many years ago once I was blacklisted out of Spanish radio. I took a job as a manager of a tire store which required me to wear a blue uniform with my name patch on the left side. I have tremendous empathy for those who as part of their employment contract have to wear a hat of any kind in order to make a living.

The parrot was exploitively being used as a prop by this weird guy and his equally wearied and/or long suffering wife, to draw attention to himself. I don?t presume to be a barrio ornithologist. Wild wonderful birds like parrots shouldn?t be forced to wear tiny red cowboy hats, unless it?s a court supervised form of behavior modification.

There are an increasing number of people who are really into dressing their dogs in human clothing, and thanks to the Legally Blonde films some women think it cool to dress their tiny lap dogs in similar outfits as a fashion accoutrement.

That being said, you don?t see Homeboys walking pit bulls who are sporting black leather coats, Rottweilers in overalls or Dobermans with brims. The doggie dress-up thing seems to be class based. Anyone who has enough money to dress their dog, cat, bird or ferret in designer clothes has way too much money and a pathetic need to draw attention to an cloying cuteness, which I find disrespectful to the animal in question.

Adding to the insult, the mini van parrot red western hat was no doubt homemade.

Pet clothing is a no doubt several hundred million dollar a year business. I ain?t mad at the folks who invented doggie rain suits, cat pajamas, or monkey underwear; no one has ever gone broke under estimating the American public. This country is great because of Laisse Faire.

I cannot reconcile how folks can waste this kind of money, on frivolous pet costumes, when many of our children in the inner cities and devastated rural areas of this land go to bed hungry, and don?t have a warm coat to go to school in. Go to PetCo, and witness a socio-political abomination. America is beginning to have a serious priority problem

On the other hand, you have to applaud the folks who have the immoral ingenuity to market themselves as pet psychics, or ground hog grief counselors. I couldn?t think of an easier job, or a quicker way to make a dishonest buck, if I was so inclined, but I?m not. What goes around comes around.

Dressing up the cat for fun, or putting sunglasses on rover is cool, as a lark or for a laugh. Many of you know that a pet can console you and be your best friend in genuine times of distress. Their devotion to you seems unconditional.

Next time, while buying Doggie a designer sweater or vitamin enriched, low fat pet chow, take some cash and make an equal contribution to the Red Cross.

That may be a good way to test your humanity.

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a screenwriter whose cat left him.

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