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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 21, 2006

New dog beauty book puts the 'wow' in bowwow

By Dr. Marty Becker
McClatchy Newspapers

This country vet wasn't surprised when suddenly everyone was dressing their dogs in clothes. My 82-year-old mother, Virginia, has had her schnauzers in doggie duds for years.

I guess it's just a logical extension of the fact that little dogs of all shapes and fashion senses are taking over the planet. That doesn't surprise me. After all, the little guys are just as smart as big dogs, and are a lot more portable. I'm not embarrassed to say that I'm besotted by my own little 13-pound designer mutt, a papillion/poodle/Yorkie cross named Quixote. (Shhhh. My wife Teresa knows he's actually her dog)

So, I called up my friend Deborah Wood out in Portland, Ore., to ask her about this dog fashion trend. She's the author of the new book, "The Little Dogs' Beauty Book: Pamper & Primp Your Petite Prince or Princess" (T.F.H. Publications). The book is sold under the title "Beauty Secrets of Little Dogs" at Target Stores.

Wood says that dressing dogs up in outfits is fun and sometimes even makes a lot of sense. "In winter time, little dogs lose their body heat more quickly than a big one," she says. "That time of year, happiness really is a warm puppy."

She adds that shy dogs feel more secure when they have something wrapped around their bodies just like human babies feel more secure when wrapped tightly in a blanket.

"The Little Dogs' Beauty Book" offers fashion advice. You can figure out if your pooch is a Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall for wardrobes. (A Yorkie would be a Winter, a Maltese a Spring.) She says that Hawaiian shirts are the fashion rage for males (dogs and humans) and that in summer, women and their dogs are wearing sun dresses.

OK, I admit it: when I went to veterinary school I never thought I'd write a paragraph like the last one. And Quixote does have a Hawaiian shirt and a lei to match.

Before you think I've lost my senses, I want to add that this book is also full of lots of practical wisdom. Wood gives you solid advice about how to find a sweater that fits and is warm, and how to teach a reluctant dog to enjoy wearing the sweater. She neatly folds in an excellent chapter on grooming in such an entertaining manner that it's fun to read. Yes, she does recommend a nail polish brand for your dog, but also gives gentle and thorough advice on how to trim your dog's nails. She even has an excellent chapter on how to find a good groomer, and what red flags may tell you a groomer isn't up to par.

Deborah Wood is a writer with heart, and it really shows in her chapter on beauty secrets for old dogs. Wood says that women of a "certain age" wear red hats and old dogs should join the Red Hat Society, too.

"It was more traumatic to me when my papillon Goldie turned 14 than it was for me to turn 40," Deborah admits. "Her face is shades of muted gray, but her eyes are still lined by dark black markings, making her look a little like Bette Davis in her older years, a former glamour girl wearing too much make-up." She reminds us to keep our old dogs groomed, and to be especially careful with the tender skin and achy bones of our oldsters.

The next big trend, according to Wood: Men and little dogs. "It used to be that men pretended they didn't like little dogs. Then, men walked their little dogs with the look that said, 'Don't you dare ask about this.' Now, they just enjoy the little guys. It's great," she says.

I have to agree with her there. We just bought Quixote a leather bomber's jacket in Sedona, Ariz., and on recent trip to Venice, Italy, brought him back a miniature version of the gondolier's shirt and hat.

As they say, "clothes really make the man's best friend."