LYNNWOOD — Just when you think you’ve seen it all … there’s a sassy Chihuahua in a hot pink tutu with matching sunglasses staring at you.
What’s up with that?
It’s like the 1960s children’s classic “Go, Dog. Go!” comes to real life. Big dogs. Little Dogs. Dressed and goggled like they’re going to a dog party.
“The poofier the skirt, the happier they are,” said Dianna Melton, 50, a former mortgage industry worker and founder of DoggieBlingNThings.
She and her mom, Linda Ottaway, 72, make dog clothes and accessories. Ruffled dresses are $30. Hoodies go for $20. A blingy necklace is $10. Visers are $6.
DoggieBlingNThings started after demands from people admiring clothes the women made for their dogs. They have seven Chihuahaus in all.
What began with a few dresses at church bazaars is now a year-round circuit at festivals, home shows and pet events, including Shoptopia on Sunday at the Lynnwood Convention Center.
Just look for the crowd of people gathered around dolled-up little dogs acting like beauty pageant princesses.
Melton’s 5-pound Chihuahua, Lacey, and her mom’s petite pooch, Sofie, are the models. Garments in Seahawk and Mariner prints are popular, with bling to match.
Some people argue that putting clothes on dogs is unnecessary and excessive at best, cruel at worst.
“I thought that, too,” said Ottaway, a retired seamstress of human clothes. “I said, ‘We don’t want to dress dogs.’ ”
Her daughter persuaded her otherwise and to get back behind a sewing machine.
“You put a dress on that little dog and it boosts their self-esteem,” Melton said. “The dogs think, ‘I am so pretty.’ ”
She says she can tell by their body language: head held high, spring in step.
“She thinks she’s a prissy girl, so she’s got to wear jewelry,” Melton said of Lacey.
Again. Melton just knows.
The dog uses her nose to choose her outfit for day play. And, yes, she wears jammies at night.
Melton debunks that dogs only see black and white. “Lacey loves the color pink. She picks pink almost every time.”
She said Lacey, a 6-year-old rescue, spent her early years locked in a garage. “She was kicked, choked, starved and thrown outside in the winter with no blanket or food.”
Now she has a dresser full of clothes.
Dogs have been wearing sweaters for decades as well as donning costumes for parades and Halloween.
But dressing up for everyday drudgery?
Pet people don’t seem to mind splurging. According to American Pet Products Association, $15 billion was spent on items such as beds, collars, toys, clothing, food, over-the-counter medications and other accessories in 2017.
— Andrea Brown (@reporterbrown) April 30, 2018
PetSmart has socks to hair bows for our four-legged friends. Target has birthday cake mixes and party hats for dogs.
The Posh Puppy Boutique online site sells wigs for dogs for $30, in purple, pink and blue. Fur real.
Ralph Lauren has mesh polo shirts for $40, $195 cashmere sweaters and other designer duds for dogs. Of course, then you need a leather leash for $100. Perhaps a Pendleton dog bed for $280.
Melton and her mom never expected DoggieBlingNThings to get this big.
“It’s a dog house, not a house,” she said of Ottaway’s mobile home in a Lynnwood senior park.
The former guest room is a sewing room stacked with bins of fabric. Spools of thread. Rolls of ribbons. Yards of lace. A dining table is a sewing table.
It’s easier than stitching people clothes, Ottaway said. “In humans, you have to have the darts, and this or that for the sleeves, and buttons and buttonholes.”
Many dog outfits use Velcro. For T-shirts and pajamas, baby onesies are modified to fit a dog’s anatomy. American Girl Doll sunglasses are “doggie-ized” to fit furry ears.
Ottaway created patterns for dresses to fit dogs 2 pounds to 150 pounds. German shepherds wear tutus, too.
Custom orders include a raincoat for a Lab, a hoodie for a mastiff and a wedding dress for a dog walking down the aisle.
They also make items for cats and other creatures.
“We made a Seahawks harness for a pig,” Melton said. “Then they brought the pig to show us. The pig hung out at the Home Show all day.”
They recently were asked to make a dress for a duck. Now that’s just plain daffy.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown @heraldnet.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.