Friday, July 5, 2013

Our Dogs Wear Clothes Too

Don't ya know? In the South ... Our dogs wear clothes too!







Every time I see someone walking a dog that's donning a custom sweater or other item of clothing, I chuckle, thinking how different life was during my growing up years in Alabama. I wrote an short article about this very thing. It was recently posted in The Magill Review under my column entitled "Confessions of a True Southerner."

Here's the original article--a tribute to all of my southern friends who can relate to my way of thinking!

Confessions of a True Southerner: Our Dogs Wear Clothes Too
by Jennifer Youngblood and Sandra Poole (as told by Jennifer Youngblood)

     I was at a friend’s house, and we were watching one of those Hollywood glitz segments where Paris Hilton was parading around Beverly Hills with her miniature dog happily stuffed in a Gucci bag.
     I turned to Sharon and said, “Well, our dogs wear clothes too.” 
     “What?”
    “In the South, our dogs wear clothes too.”
     At that, she burst out laughing.

     “It’s true,” I told her.
     She raised her eyebrows and gave me the look. You know the look I’m talking about— the one that says you must’ve just fallen off the turnip truck and hit your head one too many times on the way down. “I don’t know what part of the South you’re from,” she said, “but it certainly ain’t where I come from.”
     Sharon did have a point. Once when I went with my boys to spend the weekend with my parents, I couldn’t find anyone to take care of our family dog, Patty. Now, you have to understand that Patty wasn’t a cute, little, designer dog. Half yellow lab and half American Eskimo, she was mid-sized but had the energy of ten Greyhounds...on steroids! I knew I couldn’t handle Patty hanging over the hatch-back, slobbering on the boys, and annoying the heck out of them the whole trip. So, I went and bought one of those portable pet carriers that zips into a mini tent. There was only one problem—the trip was three hours long! And there was no way Patty could go three hours without doing her business. We decided to stop at a park located in my Alabama hometown to give Patty a chance to walk around. I even called an old friend and asked her to meet us there with her children so we could catch up. All the way to the park, I lectured my boys about the importance of keeping Patty on her leash, and then the rest of the conversation was spent arguing over who had to walk Patty first.
     We put the leash on Patty before letting her out of the carrier so she couldn’t run wild and get into trouble. Then, each of my boys begrudgingly took a turn walking her. Then something amazing happened. All of the other kids in the park started gathering around to get a look at the city boys who were walking their dog on a leash. Then they started asking if they could take a turn at it. My oldest son had the funniest look on his face, and I knew he was wondering what kind of kids would actually want to walk around a dog so she could “do her business.” I gave him the nod, and the kids spent the next thirty minutes or so walking Patty around that park.
     So, Sharon’s reaction to my statement was right on target. The notion that a group of people who wouldn’t dream of putting their dogs on a leash certainly wouldn’t dress them up... would they?
      I grew up way out in the country. We had a male Labrador named Hunter and a female mutt named Fussy. On afternoon, my little sister and I caught them carrying on in our backyard. We were appalled. There was only one solution. They had to get married. So we draped our dad’s tie around Hunter’s neck and our mom’s black slip around Fussy, and we herded them to the side of the house near the rose bushes and married them.
     Of course, Hunter had that tie off before we could utter Amen, but Fussy didn’t seem to mind being dressed up. She wore that slip around all day until my mom came home and pitched a fit when she saw her good slip on the dog.
     After that, we’d dress Fussy up, and she’d wear the clothes for days. Now, to give you a full picture—Fussy had curly, black hair and was about five times fatter than a full bred poodle. We’d put her in baby shirts that our little brothers had outgrown and then had to stretch them over her pudgy rolls. She was quite the sight, dragging those ratty shirts through the mud and who knows what else.
     Fussy loved to lie in the middle of the dirt road that ran in front our house. One evening around dusk, we heard the awful racket of a blaring horn and screeching tires and ran outside to find a car in the ditch. A man and woman, from out of town, were driving down the dirt road when he saw what he thought was an abandoned baby in the road. He swerved to miss it. My mom gave us a good scolding, but there was laughter in her eyes. I’ll never forget the bewildered look on that poor man’s face when he realized that the baby he saved was a portly, Poodle mutt stuffed into a shirt that was two sizes too small.
     So the next time you’re driving down a dirt road, way out in the sticks of a small Southern town, you’d better pay close to attention to what’s lying in the road because our dogs wear clothes too.


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