Dog becomes scary Halloween sidekick

I’m a Halloween person. It’s not the candy or the spooky lawn ornaments or the horror movies that I enjoy (I don’t particularly like candy or gory, dead things).  For me, it’s the costumes. Oct. 31 is an opportunity for me to get creative and transform into something or someone new.

Looking back over the years, I’ve been a horse, a cow, Strawberry Shortcake, an angel, a Charlie’s Angel, an archangel, a construction worker, Pocahontas, a leopard and, just last year, a pirate, complete with fake skull tattoos.

I refuse to accept that Halloween costumes are just for kids. It’s too much fun. I greet trick-or-treaters at my door in full costume. The expression on children’s faces — priceless. And on the weekend, I either find a party or throw one myself.

This year, I’m planning to dress up as a character from the Game of Thrones, a popular book series by George R. R. Martin and now an HBO television series. And, I’ll admit it, I’ve gone a bit overboard. I’ve been making my costume since the beginning of October.

The character’s name is Daenerys Targaryen, also referred to as “The Mother of Dragons.” (Geek alert.) That’s right. She has dragons. Three of them: a green dragon, a cream-gold dragon and a black-red dragon.

For a while in the series, she carries around the dragon eggs — so I went ahead and made eggs out of paper mache, oven-bake clay, hot glue and metallic acrylic paint. Well, when a friend saw the fantastical eggs (which I proudly showed off as soon as they were finished), they said, “So is Oreo going to be a dragon?”

Actually, I hadn’t thought of dressing up my dog Oreo. I adopted him in May, so we’d never spent a Halloween together. But what a fabulous idea!

Now, I know people feel differently about dressing up pets. For example, my boss John Holyoke thinks dog sweaters are an abomination (though I’m pretty sure he dressed his new puppy in a Red Sox jersey the other day).

Here’s my opinion: If your pet doesn’t seem to mind the clothing, it’s perfectly fine. If your pet looks miserable, I don’t think it’s worth it. For example, my cats would try to scratch my eyes out if I tried to stuff them into little kitty T-shirts. Oreo, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to mind clothing, perhaps because he’s always walked in a harness. Therefore, I feel perfectly comfortable transforming him into a dragon for Halloween, if just for the sake of taking a few photos with him.

So, this week, I shopped around for dragon wings and a costume I could alter to fit Oreo. No luck. Turns out dragons aren’t “in.” (But I found a surprising variety of Star Wars costumes for dogs.)

My motto: If you can’t find it, make it.

Doggy dragon costume materials: A small black T-shirt, red fabric paint, red and black acrylic paint, black thread, velcro, a wire coat hanger, duct tape a black harness and canvas.

Long story short, I altered one of my own T-shirts to fit Oreo. He stood remarkably still as I did the pinning (it had to be taken in a tad). I then painted scales on the shirt with red fabric paint (which unfortunately takes four hours to dry). I made the wings out of canvas, which I painted red and black, then fit them over the coat hangers, which I cut and bent into the shape of wings. I duct taped the wings at their base and sewed black cloth (scraps from the T-shirt) around it. I then decided Oreo needed some horns, so I used scrap fabric and hand-sewed a head piece while watching TV. By that time, Oreo was asleep on the couch beside me.

The next morning, after the paint had dried, Oreo suited up. The harness went on first, then the scaly T-shirt. I cut a slit in the top of the T-shirt and attached the wings to the harness with velcro (which I sewed to both the night before). Finally, I slid on the headband, and voila! A dog became a dragon.

As always, I’d like to hear from fellow dog owners. Do you dress up your dog for Halloween? Do you dress your dog in clothing at all? Send opinions, stories and photos to

Reader response to doggy car sick column

The following is an excerpt from an email sent to me from Becky Haynes of Northeast Harbor following last week’s “Let the Dog Out” column about Oreo getting sick during long car rides:

“Our greyhound, Ginger, also has issues with motion sickness, but fortunately (to date at least) has not vomited in the car. She simply hangs her head down towards the floor and looks miserable. When she’s standing with her head out through the window, life is good!

“Though your new backseat cover will certainly come in handy, you might get some helpful tips from Don Hanson at Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor. He suggested that we give our dog a piece of crystallized ginger or a gingersnap cookie before heading out for a long drive. Ironically, despite her name and gingery nature, she refuses to even lick either of these treats.

“I keep a clean-up kit in the car, just in case. Paper towels, rubber gloves and small garbage bags are ready and waiting in the trunk; we always have at least one full water bottle with us, also. We really like a product called Simple Solutions/Stain and Odor Remover. I buy it at a hardware store, and probably all the home improvement places carry it. It has a pleasant vanilla-ish scent.”


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Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at