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2016 Costume Contest Winners – Pet Category

The pet owners within this category really went all out for their furry friends during the 2016 Halloween season! Year after year, the pet category reigns as a judge favorite. How can you not enjoy looking at these pictures?!?!

FIRST PLACE: Jennifer Arnold – Dunedin, FL

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

Here’s Prince (or, the dog formerly known as Olive) performing in Purple Rain! I’ve always been a huge fan of Prince and, like so many others, was shocked and saddened by his passing this last April. He was such an iconic character with such a unique personality, I knew that his likeness would make an excellent Halloween costume. And, to me, dressing up my best furry friend, Olive, who I love as if she were my child, in tribute would honor him in a new way, that would make people remember him with a smile.

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

I made Olive’s Prince costume entirely from scratch, with the exception of her fabulous wig which I bought from a costume supply store and the exact replica of Prince’s “white cloud” guitar which I found online. To make Prince’s iconic ‘Purple Rain’ costume, I bought a couple of yards of purple stretch silk jersey, a half yard of ruffly white fabric, 3 buttons that looked like jewels, and a 5″ square of silver studs from a local fabric store. I have never had any formal training in sewing, so there’s a lot of trial and error. To begin, I cut apart one of Olive’s old dog t-shirts and used the pieces as a template for the costume. A human shirt or pattern would never work on a dog as the proportions are way off! Although it appears to be a ruffly white shirt and a separate purple coat, it’s actually one single pullover shirt. I sewed the ruffles onto the front of the shirt and made a collar of ruffles to go around her neck so that it would appear to be a separate shirt. I sewed the jacket collar and lapels onto the shirt and stitched everything in place with a jeweled button on the left and a fake button hole on the right. I then sewed a ruffle around the bottom of each sleeve so it would appear that the ruffled shirt was poking out through the jacket sleeves. Finished the shirt/jacket off with a few extra embellishments and jewels including sewing the patch of silver studs to the left shoulder to complete Prince’s iconic jacket. I put quite a few miles on my seam-ripper this year – this was a tough one for someone that only dusts off the sewing machine once a year to make a Halloween costume for the dog!

Although I purchased the replica guitar online, I sewed the zebra-print guitar strap with a “fat quarter” of fabric from the store. I added a small square of velcro to the back of the guitar to hold it in place. When Olive was walking in the costume, I swung the guitar strap around so that the guitar was resting on her back. And to keep the wig comfortably on Olive’s head, I added two small/thin strips of beige (fur-colored) elastic that kept the wig from sliding off. (This is a great tip for other dog peeps that have issues with wigs! Use two chin straps, one in front of the ears and one behind the ears! This keeps the wig from slipping back and forth, and from rolling around to the dog’s chin.) I’ve seen other dogs struggle with wigs and Olive’s is always right where it’s meant to be, even after walking around and lizard hunting in it. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Olive is perfectly content wearing clothes and hats as long as people are paying attention to her!

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

The reactions from other people have, by far, been the best part of dressing my dog to look like Prince. People can’t help but smile seeing a big golden dog with a fantastic black head of curly hair strutting along in a silky purple jacket and frilly white shirt, with a tiny guitar strapped around her shoulder. A LOT of people sang Prince songs to us, but changed the words to relate to dogs… “This is what it sounds like when dogs cry,” “She ate a raspberry bone-yay,” and “I just want belly rubs and a … KISS!”

I met a couple whose first dance at their wedding was to Prince; a woman who was so excited just to pet Olive in her costume, exclaiming that since he passed away, this was the closest she’d ever get to her lifelong dream of meeting him; and a young girl who bonded with her dad over a shared love of Prince – all of whom insisted on posing with Olive for photos. Olive is always happy to oblige, she just loves the attention.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

Because Olive is a dog with no concept of Halloween, it’s important that her costumes be comfortable, functional, and easy for her to wear while walking, sitting, laying down, and begging for attention from innocent passersby. She has to be able to eat and drink, use the potty, and remain happy while wearing the costume. I believe that by taking the extra time to make sure her costume not only looks great, but that also meets her various needs is a big part of why Olive is so happy to get dressed up. Win or lose, I’d love for other pet parents to remember to put their dog’s needs first and if they choose to dress their dog, to always make it a happy, positive experience.

Olive and I had so much fun bringing smiles to Prince fans (and a couple of confused Rick James fans)! It was an honor to be able to remember Prince in a way that just made people happy.

 


SECOND PLACE: Carissa Flint – Murrieta, CA

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

I have been drawing this turkey for years. I named him Gobble. We decided to make him come to life this year instead of just living on paper

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

We sewed felt into a giant circle with a hole at the top and bottom and two slits for his legs. I spray painted white feather boas with brown paint and then sewed them onto the felt body. We created a head hood out of felt. I took a beak and painted it orange. We created the gobbler out of red felt and attached it with an elastic band. We stuffed the body with stuffing to make it full and round. For the tail, I used a cardboard tv box. I cut its shape and stated glueing feathers to it.

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

People cried they laughed so hard.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

It was a blast to make Gobble come to life and Dodger the Doodle loved being able to wear it!

 


THIRD PLACE: Deidra Mohr – Marshalltown, IA

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

We had a voting amongst peers, a Democratic process as Benjamin Franklin would have wanted! Ben beat out other ideas such as: Pineapple, Lady Gaga, and Death Star. The appeal of a small bug eyed dog in a tail coat with a bald cap was unparalleled.

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

Materials used for the coat and vest consist of felt, old buttons, and thread. Nugget has a very unique body shape (aka… a land seal) and had to have a tailored to fit pattern created. After several measurements around Nugget’s differing girth’s were collected, an 11 piece pattern was created (including lapels, cufflinks and coat collar) and sewn together. The coat and vest are actually a single unit to keep bulk at a minimum. Buttons for both vest and cufflinks were sewed on after the coat/vest construction was complete.

Inside the coat, a small channel was created as to allow for the attaching of the kite accessory.

For the kite, simple heavier stock paper was antiqued using deeply steeped tea, cut to shape and supported by wooden skewer pieces. A twine tail with yellow ribbon bows was attached along with a longer twine and skeleton key for Ben to hold onto. Finally a wire was hot glued along one quadrant edge of the kite with enough remaining length to be fitted into the coat channel and “suspend” the kite in air.

Ben’s wig piece included a doll’s hat form, flesh colored felt, and grey wig hair. The brim of the hat form was cut off and the remaining dome covered with the flesh colored felt. The grey wig hair was then sandwiched betwixt another piece of felt and glued onto the dome form. Elastics were used as a means to strap the wig piece onto Nugget.

Glasses were fabricated using a doll accessory with added elastics to tuck behind the ears as an anchor point.

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

Much squealing over how adorable Nugget as Ben Franklin is has occurred. Lots of extra attention has been received, resulting in lots of tail wagging. Overall, an extremely gleeful reaction has been observed with both wonderment at how cute such a small, chubby dog can be as well as how amazing the costume looks. Observers has instantly recognized Nugget to be, “Ben Franklin”.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

As a Chihuahua, Nugget is prone to being chilled. The coat/vest doubles as not only an integral costume part, but also a dapper jacket when out in the Iowan Autumn winds.

 


THIRD PLACE (a): Hana Kim – Pullman, WA

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HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS COSTUME?

“I just met you and I love you!”

A year and a half ago we welcomed a new member into our dog family. Gumbo the golden retriever was – and very much still is – an excitable, energetic guy who loves everyone he meets. One of our favorite movies is Pixar’s Up. We immediately drew the parallels between Gumbo’s zest for life and the loveable character Dug, the talking dog. There have been many times when people who met Gumbo for the first time would comment that he acted exactly like Dug. And after hearing even more from multiple people at the dog park, we decided that we needed to fully realize this perfect match by making our family into the cast of Up.

While Gumbo as Dug was obvious, we had two other wonderful dogs to cast as characters. Aslan, our yellow lab, is still learning to be a great adventurer. It takes him a little longer to get used to the outdoors, but he tries his best! As such, we thought it would be great fun to see him as Russell, the young Wilderness Explorer from the movie, still on the hunt for badges.

Finally, we needed something for our oldest dog, Pancakes. In the past she’s been very patient with bigger costumes (despite her small size), and we needed something cute to match her. So we took one look at the movie and knew she just had to be the house! It’s colorful, but also represents Carl’s lost love Ellie, who has (almost) as much spirit and beauty as our Pancakes.

WHAT ITEMS DID YOU USE TO MAKE THIS COSTUME AND HOW?

“My master made me this collar so I may talk – SQUIRREL!”

Gumbo had the simplest costume, but turned out way more fun than we first thought. Being that he is already a golden retriever like Dug, the main focus was getting his collar tricked out. We started with an old leather belt we cut down to size and reworked the holes to fit his neck. Then we found odds and ends around the house to round out the dials and lights from Dug’s talking collar. Although we never quite figured out how to install a light on Gumbo’s collar, we used a bright red Lego piece as the light. We also used an old dial and extra leather from the collar to make a “map” of the island as well as a box pouch. But we wanted to do more! So we bought a small wireless Bluetooth speaker to add to the collar as well, hidden inside the pouch. The pouch had mesh on the outside so that you couldn’t see the speaker but you could still hear it. I then pulled audio from the film, edited it down to short clips of Dug speaking, raised some audio levels to make the voice as clear as possible, and synced the speaker to my phone. We could choose which phrases he wanted to say with a click of a button. Viola, we had our own talking dog!

Aslan’s Russell costume has the most pieces and was definitely fun to pull together. The backpack was one I use for hiking, and we added small details from the movie like a frying pan, Swiss army knife, rope, lantern, and even a toy trumpet we bought online to hang from the backpack. With the backpack decked out, I started looking for clothes. The shirt was a Goodwill find – using an iron-on transfer sheet I added the Wilderness Explorer logo. The hat was another store find that just needed the logo. I bought a dowel rod and orange fabric to make the flag by hand with yet another logo. The same orange fabric was used to make the scarf which was cut into a square and we used a simple wooden napkin holder in place of the scarf knot. The sash was the most fun. I started by using brown fabric to make the base. Then I used 1-inch furniture floor pads as the badges. Using online concept art of the badges, I printed out each badge onto transfer paper and ironed them onto each furniture pad. I even studied the movie and photos to figure out which order the badges were laid out. I had to leave one opening for a grape soda pin! We totally found it on a sale page for our community.

Finally, we needed a place for Dug and Russell to hang out! Luckily, Pancakes could come to the rescue as the wonderfully colorful house from Up, complete with balloons to carry her to Paradise Falls! The house was made with foam board, hot glue, and colored paper. We first had to map out all the pieces with intricate measurements for each part of the house. Everything was custom fit to Pancakes and hot glued together. Next we had to look up a 360 view of the house from the movie and create the details. We made sure the front and back of the house fit the movie. The most challenging part was to make sure that the house remained light enough for our short 18 pound dog to carry. If it was too big or heavy, it might go to one side or cause her discomfort when she walked. Next we used colored paper to cut and glue onto the house. We had to make sure the roof looked like it had shingles as well as include every window. We even added the steps on the back. This was definitely the most time-consuming part of the costume! The house had a opening on each side to fit over Pancake’s shoulders and back to keep the house from falling off of her and still allow her to walk. We added an elastic band around her chest so the costume would stay in place and there is a Velcro under her belly for more support. We got balloons at the local grocery store and and clipped them to the chimney.

In addition to our main costumes we added a few touches for the pups to keep in tow. One was Carl’s quad cane, complete with tennis balls for Dug to fawn over. We found a cane at the thrift store and cut holes into the tennis ball. Gumbo totally tried to get these balls off just like Dug! Also, Carl and Ellie’s adventure book to lead the way to Paradise Falls!

WHAT REACTION DID YOU GET WHEN WEARING THIS COSTUME?

“But it’s a TALKING DOG!”

We love taking our pups out for events, and Halloween is no exception. We had three separate pet friendly Halloween events to attend. The general reaction was a mix of cuteness overload and excitement about the talking collar. When we went out, we noticed most people took a second look, and some flat out stared with huge grins. Up is already a well-love movie – adding dogs makes it too much to handle! Several people came up and commented on how elaborate and creative our costumes were. The biggest detail that kept coming up was how we made it ourselves instead of buying those overpriced dog costumes. Homemade is so much more fun!

Sometimes the best part was a person seeing just one of our dogs and slowly figuring out what was going on as our other pups entered the scene. Pancakes definitely got the most attention, both for her patience and just dang cuteness. The balloons drew the crowds in. Though once people found out Gumbo could talk, they just couldn’t stop laughing. We had Gumbo go up and greet people and say “Hi there, my name is Dug” Kids were especially excited to come meet the talking dog! Everyone wanted to take a picture – the sign of a successful costume in our book.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT THIS COSTUME OR YOUR EXPERIENCE?

“Adventure is out there!”

On October 21st, Aslan celebrated his 3rd birthday and Pancakes celebrated her 14th Gotcha Day. I rescued Pancakes 14 years ago and now she is 15.5 years old. She may have gone a little senile and deaf but this little lady knows how to work the crowd. My dogs have always been a huge part of my life and I try to include them in my lives as much as possible. Heck, they have their own Instagram account! We even joined in on the family costume (my boyfriend was Carl!). Halloween is always a fun event for us and although our dogs may not understand why they have to wear these ridiculous costumes, they all love the attention. We spent many late nights making this costume but it was all worth it in the end. Our photos may not do the costume’s justice since as you can’t listen to Gumbo’s collar or get a full 360 of Pancake’s house. However, you will just have to believe us and use your imagination when we tell you that all the hard work paid off.

Thank you for you reading and Happy Halloween!