I Love Dressing Up for Halloween With My Dog!


When I first got Riggins, I was excited to dress him up in fancy little outfits. Really excited. During our first few months together, he wore a number of shirts that his grandma had made as well as a Redskins jersey with his namesake’s No. 44 on it. The first winter we visited my sister, who lives in a colder climate than ours, Riggins even had a cute little jacket to keep him warm. None of these outfits stayed on for long. He would look miserable, and someone would eventually take pity and relieve him of the additional layers.

Now he only gets dressed up once a year — if that! — for his mom’s favorite holiday: Halloween! Halloween is the best, and there is nothing more fun than dressing up in a great costume. And of course, if Riggins is going to be getting into character, I want to join him.

Riggins and I are really good at dressing up as a family. Here are a few of the Halloween get-ups we have happily worn. Well, I happily wore them. Riggins wore his under protest.

1. Vampires

Riggins and Wendy are masters of darkness. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Riggins and I are masters of darkness. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

Our first Halloween together, we were living with my boyfriend at the time in an apartment in West Hollywood, California. West Hollywood takes Halloween very seriously. Streets shut down, and the place is one big party! Riggins and I simply had to dress up and go.

In order to make the men in my life happy, I decided we would all be vampires. It was manly enough that they would do it, and I got to wear a big flowy dress. Win-win! I made costumes for the humans and a little vampire cape for Riggins to accessorize with a vampire hat I purchased at Target. His ears kept escaping from the little holes in the hat, though. They just wouldn’t stay!

Even a bat dog toy wouldn't make Riggins like his costume. (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Even a bat dog toy wouldn’t make Riggins like his costume. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins looked adorable, and I had grand plans of us being the talk of the town as I hooked a bat dog toy to his leash and we headed down to join the festivities. I learned later that organizers discourage bringing dogs. Of course, when looking back that makes sense, but at the time, I was too excited for everyone to see my adorable puppy.

The streets were packed, and Riggins was getting overwhelmed, which meant I had to carry him for blocks as we made a big loop around the neighborhood. It was all worth it, though, when I heard a young woman on the phone with her friend say, “You have to get down here. It’s great! Even dogs are dressed up!”

2. Dogs and cats

The role Riggins was born to play! (Photo courtesy of Wendy Newell)
The role Riggins was born to play! (Photos courtesy Wendy Newell)

If the vampire Halloween taught me anything, it was that Riggins’ costume needed to be as minimal as possible if I wanted him to keep it on. That led me to being a black cat to his black dog. It was a role he was born to play!

3. Witch and broom

Riggins is the cutest broom you have ever seen! (Photo by Wendy Newell)
Isn’t Riggins the cutest broom you have ever seen?! (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

When I told friends that Riggins was going to be a broom, they couldn’t figure out how I was going to pull that off. I knew how! I had a plan, some felt, a sewing machine, and glitter! It was the perfect costume. Not too elaborate and yet a necessary addition to my witch.

We went down to the Haute Dog Howl’oween Parade in Long Beach, California, that year, to look at all the dogs and their humans all dressed up. I love dog costume contests, and the folks who take part in the parade take the couples and sometimes group costumes to the next level.

As much as I loved all the elaborate character choices we saw, I could tell Riggins was thrilled that his costume was simple and, more important, easy to get off!

4. Ruff ’em up Riggins and coach

Rigins is ready to rumble! (Photo courtesy of Wendy Newell)
Rigins is ready to rumble! (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

This is the year Riggins had a small mass removed from his ear, which left him with a notch at the tip. That notch has since become a chomp as it is the same spot that a meany dog took a bite out of him a couple years later. At the time, it was still pretty tiny, and yet I felt bad for my poor baby boy. I told him that his new look gave him more street cred. No one is messing with the tough pooch with a notched ear. “In fact,” I explained, “you look like a real tough boxer.”

His ear was the inspiration for our Halloween costume. Riggins was a boxer, and I was his trainer. His costume was originally more elaborate, but I had to start ditching items that he didn’t like or that wouldn’t stay on. He had the boxing gloves, champion belt, and of course notched ear, so he looked the part.

5. “The Trouble With Tribbles”

Very specific dogs got the "trouble" signs! (Photo courtesy of Wendy Newell)
Very specific dogs got the “trouble” signs! (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

Now that I’m a dog sitter, I have lots of pups in my pack. This year, I decided I needed a costume that incorporated the whole gang. It just so happens that I’m a Star Trek fan. Sure, my loyalty lies with Captain Picard and TNG, but there is something wonderful about the classic episodes. Not to mention the fact that the gals’ uniforms were fun and impractical; they were zooming through space, exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, and boldly going where no man had gone before — in knee-high black boots. I will take any opportunity to wear go-go boots!

Live Long and Prosper (Photo courtesy of Wendy Newell)
Live long and prosper. (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

I chose to have the group pay tribute to one of the most famous Star Trek episodes, “The Trouble With Tribbles.” I had planned to make the pups pom-pom hats, but realized there was no need. They were going to be portraying fuzzy aliens, and it just so happens that each pup was already fuzzy! No additional fluff required. To make sure they could be easily identified, half received “Tribble” signs and half received “Trouble” signs for this pre-holiday photo shoot.

These Tribbles are no trouble! (Photo courtesy of Wendy Newell)
These Tribbles are no trouble! (Photo courtesy Wendy Newell)

Maybe we will get dressed up again for our daily hike on October 31 this year. After all, I’m sure the pups will be no tribble at all!

What costumes have your pups worn? Are they dressing up this year? Share your pictures with us in the comments!

Read more about Halloween and dogs:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

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