Scaredy dog

Peter Jackson
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Costume dog

OK, first things first. Halloween and Mardi Gras are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS! One happens in October, the other in March (or thereabouts).

If you see signs or ads promoting a “Mardi Gras” event this coming weekend, please ignore them. They are obviously a mistake. A monumental typo. A cruel hoax. Because there is no Mardi Gras in October.

There. Now that I’ve got that annual grievance off my chest, I’d like to talk about dogs. In particular, dogs and Halloween.

The other morning, my wife took our golden retriever for a walk. It was quite early, and still pretty dark.

Our retriever is quite big and often likes to act like a big dog. He lumbers around like he’s some sort of grizzly bear, and barks big boisterous barks when he feels he’s not getting enough attention.

But he’s actually a baby underneath it.

As the two — dog and master — whisked down the road on the home stretch, dog suddenly noticed a Halloween figure attached to a nearby pole. He practically jumped out of his skin. He skittled over to my wife’s other side and pressed in tightly against her, glancing back furtively at the offending stranger.

As Halloween approaches, more and more grotesque decorations are popping up in our neighbourhood. This could be a problem

Not that it was unpredictable.

Two weeks earlier, I had said retriever up in a field near our house. A man and his small boy were flying a kite.

Dog, who was off leash, displayed what could only be described as mortal terror. He barked and whined and kept sidling off to the side. The kite flapped angrily in the wind, like an angry bird hovering in place, ready to lunge at some innocent canine and tear it to pieces.

Remember, our canine is more than 100 pounds.

Once past the kite, I assumed the big fella would carry on as usual. But at one point, I turned around, and there he was: gone.

I searched the area for 15 to 20 minutes, but had a pretty good idea what had happened to him. He probably scooted down the back of the field and back out onto the road.

When I arrived home a half-hour later, there he was in the driveway, tail wagging as if to say, “Oh good, you escaped with your life, too. Sorry I couldn’t stick around.”

Halloween is hard on dogs. Unlike people, they don’t know these spooky decorations are just for fun. They are actually spooked. In their minds, it’s life or death.

And don’t get me started on Halloween, when all the spooks start showing up at the door. You’d think it was War of the Worlds.

Which brings me to pet costumes.

Is there a god in heaven that would allow this happen to a dog?

I don’t know whose dog this is — just one of hundreds submitted to an Internet site.

But I feel his pain.

Dogs don’t get costumes. It’s just some obstacle they’ve become entangled in. It’s only fortunate that most are too stupid to realize you are the one deliberately entangling them.

Yes, we all love to personify dogs. We imagine them in all sorts of human situations: in a pool hall, driving cars, smoking cigars, playing basketball.

But costumes? Please. If you love your dog, you’ll spare him the aggravation.

OK, so those who know me may have seen a photo of our setter in a Santa hat several years ago.

I can explain that.

First, I didn’t do it. My wife did.

And second, it’s Christmas, for crying out loud. Don’t be such a Scrooge.

So, wreak your Halloween havoc if you will. Nail your hosts and goblins to the fence. Send the little tykes out to pillage the neighbourhood.

But please, give a thought to the poor dogs.

They don’t understand.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s commentary editor. He can be contacted by email at

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