What do you do when it’s fairly cold outside and you feel you need a bit of a challenge? Today we had the interesting experience of trying to stuff an angry cockatiel into a jumper made out of a toddler-size sock.
Let me just say that I do not, in principle, like the idea of dressing animals in clothes. Most of them come ready dressed with fur, feathers or scales, and making them suffer the indignity of being dressed up seems to me a short step away from abuse.
That is the principle, but in practice I have so far made a party dress for a small dog, a wedding dress for a slightly larger small dog, a duckini and a nappy harness for Dick van Duck, and dressed poor Minnow in a variety of jumpers and contrivances.
The party dress for Ratty was a bit of a joke really, and used up the beginnings of a matinee jacket I had started for my daughter – now age twenty eight – and not got around to finishing. Ratty bore her shame with surprising equanimity. The pink ostrich feather trim around the neck the tiny bugle beads on the bodice and the matching hair clip did look quite sweet, and the baby pink against her black fur suited her as well as a frilly frock can suit a canine.
Feria’s wedding dress was made at the request of her owner, who was determined that Feria should be part of her big day. I really went to town with seed pearls, tiny bone-shaped decorations, beaded embroidery and a tiny matching fascinator.
A piece of black fishnet stocking helped create the illusion of an off the shoulder number, and the use of wired florist ribbon to make a flounced, flamenco-style skirt got around the problem the dog’s normally horizontal posture. Purely by chance, the dress matched the style of the bride’s almost perfectly.
Dick van Duck’s duckini and nappy harness were born out of necessity. We needed to keep him safe when we took him out for a swim, and he did not have the sense to stay with us. Indoors, the constant output of varying obnoxiousness led to him having to wear a nappy harness for at least some of the time.
Minnow has very short hair, and will not go outside if it is cold or rainy. As we do not want her to explode or otherwise make a mess indoors, we have reluctantly allowed her a jumper on very cold days. Regular readers will know that she had to wear a Spiderman costume to protect her stitches after her recent operation, and when that was not working out, she was trussed up like a little Bavarian sausage for a day or two.
So why, I hear you ask, were we dressing Boggle in a sock jumper? Boggle is not at all keen on being handled, so I do assure you it was not for fun. I actually quite enjoy having the full complement of fingers, and had no great desire to be on the receiving end of Boggle in a rage. He may be tiny, but he can’t half bite.
Unfortunately, Boggle has started to pick under his armpits. He does not seem to have any reason to do so, other than that he is a twit. We have repeatedly dosed him up with medication that would deal with any parasitic problems, and he is in very good health. We noticed over the holiday season that he had progressed from preening his feathers too enthusiastically to pulling them out, and finally to picking at the bare skin and making it bleed. It appears he has just got into a silly habit, much as some humans become hooked on biting their fingernails.
The only way to give poor Boggle’s armpits a chance to recover is to stop him getting at them. A miniature Elizabethan collar would be extremely difficult to put on him, would probably catch on his toys and get in the way of him feeding. We therefore researched other options and came upon a diagram of how to turn a sock into a little jumper.
Cutting the holes for his head and wings was the easy part. Catching him and holding him still took a great deal of time and patience. Even wrapped snugly in an old tea towel, he managed to latch onto one of my fingers and give it a fearsome bite. He hung on, vice-like, and left some impressive imprints.
Once we had manhandled him into the jumper, he sat morosely on top of his cage, refusing to go inside, stubbornly mute and playing the guilt card for all he was worth.
Fascination with his jumper eventually got the better of him. He clambered back into his cage, and started preening his hem into a lovely fringe, dancing gleefully in front of his mirror and telling the world how pretty he is.
He may be a happy boy and friends with the world again now, but it will be a while before I want to even consider how to take the jumper off when it needs a wash!