We don't really condone dressing up one's pets or dyeing their fur to match one's hair. It's just asking for the critter to turn on you and rip out your throat or, at the least, pee in your shoes.
That said, if there is an occasion to play doggie dress-up, it's at Woofstock, held June 9 and 10 at the St. Lawrence Market 'hood at Front and Jarvis. They will also be closing down parts of Church and Market Sts.
We meet Woofstook organizer Marlene Cook and her 13-year-old wheaton terrier, Barkley, at Timmie Doggie Outfitters at 867 Queen St. W. The shop was not named after Timmie of Lassie fame. It was named after co-owner Paul Ryu's oldest dog, a Lab mix.
Timmie offers designer toys, clothes, accessories, treats, gourmet food and grooming "for the posh pooch and glamour puss." There is even a Zen-like spa space in the basement where Fido can get a massage.
We notice a pile of Hello Kitty T-shirts for dogs. "Dogs don't mind wearing them," insists co-owner Georges Khayat.
Even Barkley is not averse to cross-dressing, insists Cook, founder of The Old Clothing Show & Sale.
"Barkley loves clothes," she says, manipulating him into a Rambo camouflage outfit.
The dog eyes the $44 leather collars. Cook has no problem spending that much. Even $30 for a skull tank top that would only fit a teeny, weenie fashion accessory dog.
"I have a grown-up son, Jared, 23, and the dogs (Cook has another dog, Sydney, 8) are my kids," she explains. "I buy tons of stuff for them; I bring back gifts for them. In Canada, the pet industry is a $4 billion industry, with $2 billion spent on luxury items."
Cook carries a dog tote bag. She swears that she wasn't even a dog person until she got Barkley.
"I got hooked," she allows. "The next thing you know, I made coats for dogs: Barkley's Best Dog Wear. I sold them in New York and California. I made recycled cashmere sweaters for dogs 10 years ago. I was way ahead of my time."
Cook runs the Sunday Antique Market in the St. Lawrence Market. This is the fifth year for Woofstock.
"It has doubled in size and tripled in attendance. There were 140,000 people (last year)," she says, most of whom had dogs with them.
"I do events, and Woofstock evolved as the ultimate shopping event for dogs in the world. The first year had maybe 50 exhibitors; now there are 200 vendors selling everything from clothing, prom dresses, cookies, vitamins, doggie ice cream and doggie spas. We have the Stupid Dog Trick Contest where the prize is a weekend for two at the Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel."
In addition to Timmie's, Cook shops at Bark & Fitz and Three Dog Bakery in the Beach.
"Barkley has cataracts and Bark & Fitz have doggie goggles ($35)," she says. "People think he is wearing them because they are cute but they are functional. I bought a great rolled-up bed in a Hawaiian print at Old Navy for Barkley. He gets up at 4 a.m. with me because I set up at the Sunday market at 5 a.m.
"I'm such a shopper. I'll buy a cheap top at H&M and an expensive Coach bag and I'll mix and match cheap with expensive for the dogs just like I buy for me. I like Old Navy designs."
Next stop: Old Navy at the Eaton Centre, where Barkley's tail goes into wag overdrive.
"Barkley loves Old Navy," Cook says. "Look at his smile."
Colourful fabric collars are priced at $7.50; doggie polo shirts go for $12.50; surfer dogs T-shirts are $10.50 and they match a Frisbee.
In fact, dog and adult clothes are often co-ordinated and Old Navy is holding a fashion show at Woofstock at noon on both days.