Ask Walter: Halloween edition
1. I know all kinds of tricks (sit, shake and high-five!) 2. I do all my tricks for treats — the better the treats, the better my tricks. So why is it “trick OR treat?” Why not “tricks FOR treats?”
— Will Work for Food
Being a dachshund, I just have to bend my knees and LOOK like I’m sitting and I get a treat (I can work the system.) I agree — the term SHOULD be “tricks FOR treats.” Apparently, on Halloween night, people say, “trick or treat” when they knock on the door dressed in weird outfits as a sort of threat. It means that if they don’t get a treat, they’ll play a trick on the person they’re approaching. The people in the house keep a big bowl of candy ready, and happily pay up to each and every one. I don’t know too many dogs that could get away with such bullying, but I think because most of the costumed hooligans are just wee people pups, they put up with them with good humor. FYI, barking ferociously at mini-Batman will not earn you kudos, so try to can it if you feel the urge to ring alarm bells. In my defense, I didn’t like the way he was lookin’ at me. Lesson learned — look cute, and the treats keep coming.
Masks, big hats, puffy coats and clunky boots are scary. Painted faces and wigs are scary. Pumpkins with faces that glow in the dark are scary. Random strangers dressed as zombies, aliens, princesses and robots wandering the neighborhood and randomly knocking on doors is the stuff of my doggie nightmares. Halloween is supposed to be fun?! I just want to run and hide, but my owners think I’m just being dramatic. Am I weird?
— Halloween Hating Hound
You definitely are not weird. Halloween was INVENTED to scare the pants off people. Since animals don’t even wear pants, we advance right to the scared part. It doesn’t help that dogs rely on body language and facial expressions to understand each other and people — so when people distort their faces and bodies in grotesque and crazy ways with costumes and makeup, it’s only natural for dogs to freak out. Even though the smells may be familiar, we tend to get very confused when our people don hats or wigs, put on a clown face (seriously, who’s not a little weirded-out by clowns?) or do other things to distort their normal shape or faces. Just lay low, and remember it’s only one day.
There’s a HUGE bowl of candy by the front door right now and the dog’s been doing some serious acrobatics to try to score even one small piece of the stuff. I’d get it for him (I’m a cat), but it’s hilarious to watch him try (and fail.) The crinkly wrappers do have a certain appeal — I find myself enjoying the sensation of wading through that glorious, large bowl and then settling down on it like Little Miss Muffet on her “tuffet” for a relaxing snooze. But, I don’t really understand wanting to EAT the candy. What’s the appeal? It doesn’t even SMELL like meat. Or cheese — cheese would be OK. Now, I might nibble at the plastic wrappers — crackly plastic or paper bags and things are fun to chew or bat around like a toy, but what’s the appeal of the actual candy? It doesn’t smell like anything. Please explain.
— Meats Before Sweets
Since cats don’t have the ability to taste sweets, you simply cannot appreciate the joy of candy. Too bad, ’cause it’s delicious. Some may ask why, if cats can’t taste sweet, some still seem to enjoy ice cream, cookies and cake. Cats LOVE fats, and those items have lots of it. Chocolate candy, which is dangerous for dogs and cats to eat (but oh, so yummy when you can score some) is loaded with fat as well as sugar — the best of all the food groups, as far as I’m concerned.
What are you going to be for Halloween? I’m going to be a lobster this year. It gets me some serious attention, which I normally crave, but I feel pretty silly — this outfit makes me walk funny! My owners giggle continuously when they stuff me in it. I’m getting too old for this nonsense. Should I be offended or just go along with it?
— Crustacean Frustration
If I could choose, I’d dress in my collar and tie this year, but I never know — my people are in charge of the costumes. I graciously acquiesce because resistance is futile. I feel your embarrassment, but hang in there — it’s only for a short time, and I’m sure you’ll rock the lobster, so to speak.
Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.