People are pretty awful, but pets are so great, right? They have fur to keep them warm and make them extra cuddly. They have those sweet little faces and charming personalities to make us fall in love with them and keep feeding them. And they, for reasons which have never been less clear, love us unconditionally, no matter how stupid and undeserving we are. Yet the people who are pioneering the new trend of giving their pets temporary tattoos and dyeing and cutting their hair in all kinds of "fun" ways better hope that unconditional rule holds because they are really pushing the limit.
To be clear, the pet tattoos we're talking about here are temporary. (Though there are permanent pet tattoos, and there is no doubt a special circle in hell reserved for the people who take it to that level.) They usually cost between $10 and $20, and they're airbrushed on with stencils and special non-toxic animal dye. Sorry to be a super nerd, but aren't there better ways for chemists to spend their time than devising dye that can be used to decorate animals? Like maybe they could work on curing malaria or killing bedbugs or something—just a super un-fun thought.
These tattoos are part of a larger "creative grooming" trend, which obvs has its own professional association, because people who dye dogs to look like panda bears and give them "I love mom" tattoos are nothing if not professional. The president of this association says this trend has been going for about three years, and "creative groomers" have to get certified so they know which dyes are safe for the pets. Nothing but the best for our pets, amirite?
So why, exactly, are we doing this again? "People love it — it's hilarious," says groomer Heather Holland. Oh, good, people love it. You know who probably does not love being the laughing stock of every party? The pets. But maybe Holland knows more than we do because she once dyed "a Louisiana State University fan's golden retriever to look like a tiger." According to her, it's "a good form of expression" and it's a fun way to celebrate our pets. That's so funny because I was just thinking my dog doesn't get celebrated enough. Also, I hope that tiger bit the hand that feeds it—in a fun way!—as a thank you for the dye job.
It might not surprise you that dog owners are the biggest fan of this particular art form. That's good because can you imagine trying to give a cat a tattoo? It wouldn't be so much a way to express yourself as a way to get your face ripped clean off. Jessica Law, another creative groomer, says, "A lot of people are really into the 'old school' tattoos like anchors or 'I love mom.'" Though she also does all-over dye jobs and things like mohawks. (Quick question: have you ever once looked at a dog and thought, "You know what that dog needs? More decorations"?)
Apparently this abomination grew out of our ever-increasing need to live out our fantasies through our pets. The grooming industry has recently expanded to include teeth cleaning and spa treatments. (Polly want a pedicure? Fido want a facial?) Why would we ever think a dog needed a facial? Because we like facials and whatever we like, dogs like. We like tattoos, ergo... That is why they are our soulmates. Plus, we're apparently spending $52.9 billion a year on our pets, so what's the harm if a few mill of that is spent on pet tattoos. Can we just take a minute to acknowledge what a deeply fucked up sentence that is? Again, not to get all Debbie Downer-facing dog on you, but think about how many homeless and hungry animals could be helped with the money some of you are spending to tattoo your dogs with shamrocks and celtic knots.
It will not shock you to learn that PETA is totally against this because it can stress out the animals, give them allergic reactions, and is "insensitive to an animal's dignity." Wait, what is insensitive to an animal's dignity about laughing at it because it looks ridiculous... Ohhhh, right. Good point. As Jane Dollinger, PETA spokeswoman says, "Our dogs and cats love us regardless of how we look. We should extend the same kindness to them." Indeed we should. We often say we treat our animals like they're our family. So think of it this way: would you drop your young, defenseless daughter off at the hairstylist and ask them to dye her hair so she looks like a tiger? Would you ask them to give her some crazy hairdo and then put a bunch of dye all over her body? One hopes you would not. Of course, some people definitely would, and for those people we have a place called Toddlers & Tiaras.
The good news is that even though this is a certified trend, with a professional association and everything, not everyone is jumping on the pet tattoo bandwagon—so there may be hope for humanity yet. Groomer Sheri Harvey, of New Jersey, reports that not very many owners accept her offer of putting "a star, flower, rainbow or other design on their pet." Why? Because people are skeptical about dyeing designs onto their pets and are worried it could injure them, says Harvey. In other words, some people care more about their dog than how their dog looks. However, our pal Jessica Law from earlier says the haters don't know what they're talking about because the "tatted" up pets have it made: "These animals get so much attention and love — they eat it up, from what I've seen." Yeah, you know who else gets so much attention and love? Regular pets, just walking around in their plain old fur.
Well-heeled pets now getting tattoos [USA Today]
Image via Eric Isselée/Shutterstock.