Thank the lord for dressed-up dogs

Megan Lea 10 December 2016
Image Credit: Sarah Wilson

Unless you have been living under a rock or very happily inside a warm and safe nuclear bunker, you will have noticed that 2016, generally, has been a bad year for the world. Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, and Leonard Cohen all passed away, the UK decided to leave the EU, and climate change is becoming ever more urgent. If that weren’t enough, Donald ‘anti-establishment’ Trump then won the US election and had a picture taken in a gold-plated lift with Nigel ‘man-of-the-people’ Farage, in an image that I’m sure will grace history books in 50 years’ time as an emblem of the utter farce that this year has been. The next few years, it seems, are not going to be easy, and people of our generation especially are going to have to be proactive in a lot of battles to come.

Easy as it is to despair, there are ways to feel okay about this mess, and retreat from the world of doom, gloom, and global politics. One of the things that we definitely got right: taking wolves out of the forest thousands of years ago and turning them into small friends that sit on you when you’re sad and sort of don’t mind when you put silly outfits on them.

Image credit: Sarah Wilson

A dog would never call all Mexicans rapists or call for a ban on all Muslims; All he cares about is how many treats he’s going to get for posing in that stupid costume. In fact his only qualms are with the postman, who, to be fair, is encroaching on his territory when he comes to deliver letters. Dogs don’t care about your sexuality, gender, or nationality, but will only judge a human by the quality of the attention they bestow upon them (and to be honest, will still like you even if you ignore them). Dogs look cute in any colour, especially orange, and is there really anything more pure than a dog dressed up as a Christmas pudding? Dogs might not understand the complexities of the world we live in, but they also won’t play ‘devil’s advocate’ with you in the college bar after a long day, defending the most toxic policies and politicians just because they think debating things that will never touch them or negatively impact them is good fun. Nope, dressing up a dog (as long as they’re comfortable) in a silly costume is a timeless hilarity and comfort we can all hold onto in our days of darkness.

Image credit: Megan Lea

In all seriousness, it has been proven that dogs can have a monumental impact on mental health and well-being, which is why they are assigned to people with PTSD, and taken round colleges here for ‘puppy welfare’ days. ‘Borrowmydoggy.com’ is a service allowing those who don’t have dogs to interact with them; the owners benefit from having their dog walked, and the walker benefits from puppy love. It’s a win-win. One of the saving graces on my Facebook newsfeed recently has been that all depressing news coverage has been punctuated with posts from ‘Cool Dog Group’, a 300,000 member-strong group for dog enthusiasts, which, despite such a presence, has remained a largely troll-free space for feel-good videos and pictures of dogs doing what they do best: being cute, endlessly optimistic, and oblivious to the horrors of the world around them.

I don’t mean to demean the importance of engagement with politics and social issues, but when it is necessary to disengage, there can be nothing more comforting than looking at dogs doing stupid things in stupid costumes. One of the best responses I saw to the election result last Tuesday was Youtuber Jenna Marbles’ decision to spend her day spreading joy by marrying her two dogs and filming it. I advise you to check it out – if the quality of that dog’s tuxedo doesn’t cheer you up, I’m not sure what will.

Image credit: Ellie Mullett