Monday, 26 August 2013

Softening the edges

Initial reactions to Caesar vary dramatically, from comments about his good looks and handsome face to people lifting their children from the ground close to him or crossing the road.  Some people get angry that others can be so narrow minded towards certain breeds but I feel sorry for them.  I remember one mum taking her son by the hand as he pointed at Caesar and chorused "doggy, mummy, doggy!"  I smiled at her as she told him, "yes, but we don't just go and stroke doggies."  Sensible advice if you ask me and I agree entirely.  What upset me was that, a little further along the street stood a man with two border collies.  "Go and stroke those doggies instead," she advised, pushing her son in the direction of the dogs.  "They're beautiful," she said to the owner, as the dogs bustled around her little boy.  Caesar sat calmly by my feet never moving an inch but something about him had warned her away.  I looked down, seeing only his floppy ears and wide brown eyes.  I saw nothing in him that looked at all unnerving.

As I drove home, I suddenly remembered the first picture that I ever saw of Caesar.  I remembered how I felt intimidated by the aloof looking dog in the photo.  I remember how my parents had questioned my motives for choosing 'that dog' when I showed his picture to them.  I remembered how I'd asked myself the same question.  His nature had won me over almost instantly and from that moment, his looks didn't worry me too much at all.  In fact, the longer I know him, the more I see a placid, gentle and friendly face and it's hard to see anything else.

Part of Caesar's problem is that he has an extreme reaction to other dogs and it takes him a long time to calm himself after he has seen an unknown dog, particularly if it is off the lead.  His noise level and energy draw the attention of passers by who generally move as far away as possible Recently, we visited a town where a dog had been left tied outside a shop at one end of the high street.  As we walked towards said dog, Caesar literally parted the crowds who walked at either side while we walked through the middle.  It's embarrassing!

I set about softening Caesar's edges fairly soon after his adoption.  I began by replacing his thick black head collar with an electric blue head collar with bright yellow puppies on.  But I did not stop there.  I also bought Caesar an electric blue Superman collar to match.  'It's impossible to look intimidating when you're wearing a Superman Collar'  I thought.  Of course, being Caesar, the Superman collar lasted around three days before he'd scratched it so much that the ink came off, leaving white marks all over Superman's face but in the first 72 hours of owning it, we got at least a few 'aww's.  Next, we purchased a red spotted dickey-bow and matching  fabric collar thus converting him into the perfect gentleman.  This had a more pronounced effect and people stopped to ask me where we got it and spent a minute fussing him, even when he was being noisy.  By Christmas, Caesar had a further "Ho Ho Ho" collar featuring a small sledge and reindeer, a reindeer jumper and matching red leg warmers.  Could people possibly find him intimidating in this?  Surely if the dog that is coming towards you screeching and yelling, is wearing a reindeer jumper and leg warmers then that makes them at least half as intimidating.  Doesn't it?

Now, Caesar has an array of 'edge softening' paraphernalia including:

  • A batman collar
  • A superman collar
  • Two dickey-bow ties
  • A "Ho ho ho" Christmas collar
  • A Scooby Doo collar
  • A set of leg warmers
  • A few t-shirts including "Best pal" 
  • A blue bone fleece
  • A fleece hoodie with friendly looking dog bones on

I refer to him by his collar bound name when he begins to play up in public, lightening my tone with phrases such as "Come on Scoobs" or "Let's go Rudolph!"  People smile so I suppose it must work.  Either that or they think I'm totally mad...

I'd love to hear you thoughts on dog accessories.  Do you agree, disagree or are you neither for nor against.  Let me know with a comment.

Thanks to Brown Bee Collars and Classet Comfort Pet Designs for the beautiful collars.