few days ago, I walked into the Juventus store in Torino to buy a baby-sized Del Piero jersey. I don’t have a baby nor do I know of any Juve fans. I was simply looking for something small enough for my 3.5 kilo dog. Bella already has her custom-fitted Palermo jersey for Sundays, but I thought she’d look spectacular strutting around Rome in Juve’s lovely black and white stripes.
Jersey color, you should know, is the defining factor in choosing a team.
Yes, I am one of those people who likes to walk with an overly cute and accessorized animal. Bella has a yellow raincoat, and three sweaters (pink, red/grey striped, and yellow tennis style), along with the Palermo jersey. She has a variety of leashes (pink plaid, red and white check patent leather, denim with flowers, and a sporty retractable). An ex-boyfriend once gave her a fancy leather harness along with a pair of matching shoes. She’s even been known to wear bows in her hair, but only for special photo shoots. Basically, my dog rocks fashion, as a true Italian should.
Most of us like our pets to look good, even if we’re hesitant to admit it. I’m not talking about the obviousness of cableknit sweaters or fantasy-ridden forays into animal fashion — tutus, raincoats, bowties, sunglasses, hats, Swarovksi crystal collars, et al. I’m saying that bull dogs with badass stud-collars, Labs with laid back bandannas, even kitties with tinkling bell-collars, all represent small but pointed efforts in style.
Because everyone knows that the Teva-esque collar and harness are just plain ugly.
Good animal fashion, not just dog fashion, is hard to find. There are stores in every city, usually called Non Solo Quattro Zampe (Not Just Four-Legged) or something like that, where the basic fashion urges can be satisfied in a quick fix. In fact, Trenitalia’s magazine Riflessi just praised Milan’s For Pets Only, a stylish store devoted to accessories and edibles for pets. But all of their merchandise is generic (and limited to dogs and cats) — the same rain coat/collar/tee shirt/harness/leash in only a few different colors, which can be found in every pet store, in every country.
For a while, I was confused. No matter where I would go, I would see stylish dogs — from sporty and bling to haute couture and custom-designed. I didn’t want Bella to feel left out, but I wasn’t finding anything remotely stylish in any of the pet stores. And I kept hearing “I found this in a little store in Paris.” Or “I swear by London and New York only.” I love my dog, but I think that shopping for Bella is an afterthought when planning a vacation.
While at the Juventus Store, I had an epiphany in the form of Carlo, cash register clerk and Juve fashionista. He had just told me that there were no more mini-jerseys and that I would have to wait until next week. Dejected, I leaned on the pole covered in Juve autographs, looking for strength in Del Piero’s scrawl, when Carlo softly whispered “ma guarda sull’internet…” and quickly thereafter admonished anyplace that is not an official Juve outlet.
O Internet, non-discriminatory mecca where all species can shop happily, anonymously and quickly — just three to four business days… Why didn’t I think of this before? Here’s my list:
— Ferrets need love too. See www.cratfycreatures.com
— Did you know you can walk your rabbit on a lead much like a cat or dog? They like exercise. www.critterstore.com
— Cat people know that although cats like to be left alone, they like to be alone in style. www.catsincomfort.com
— Snakes, and other reptiles are used to being on display. www.designeraquariums.co.uk
— Likewise, reptiles like the comforts of their original homes. www.naturalaquariums.com
— Finally, it is very important that your animal has proper identification. For some, it is very important that this identification is incredibly bling: www.petsjeweler.com
— See Erica Firpo’s guidebook series at readblackbooks.com