ANDERSON — At first, you think they’re dogs. Then you find out they’re really hams. The Pet-A-Pal dogs love nothing better than getting all dressed up in costumes and taking center stage. Twice a month, from April through October, the dogs do just that as they visit area nursing homes and put on a narrated fashion show to the delight of residents.
Pet-A-Pal president Fran Tedrow narrates the show while six dogs strut their stuff, with 30 or more costumes.
“Each dog has anywhere from four to seven or eight costume changes,” said Pet-A-Pal member Carol Rattler. Dogs wear costumes from Santa Claus to Mickey and Minnie Mouse to Colts and Pacers, bringing plenty of smiles to residents' faces.
“They all love the Wizard of Oz group,” said Rattler. “The scarecrow is just adorable.”
Another favorite is the Birthday Dog that sports a hat which sort of looks like a birthday cake and a dress with ruffles that says ‘Happy Birthday.’
“We have a tremendous time,” said Rattler. “We’re changing the dogs’ clothes every five or ten minutes.”
“It’s really cool. The dogs are just hilarious,” said Liz Frank. Frank brings her two Labradors, Maggie and Oyate. She noted that both dogs happily wear their costumes.“They love it.” When Oyate dons his costume, Frank said, “He literally will prance.”
“The dogs love it because they know everyone’s going to pet them,” said Tedrow.
One of the favorite parts of the show comes at the end, when the group honors service men and women, and those who serve as nurses, firefighters or police.
“One of our dogs does a good night prayer in her jammies,” said Rattler. Labrador Maggie puts her paws up, and rests her head on her paws.
“Many of the residents remember the dogs from year to year. They look forward to it tremendously,” said Rattler. She said residents even remember the names of the dogs, including her own golden retriever Sadie. Sadie was a regular until after Carol’s husband passed away in September. Sadie died two months later, grieving her lost owner.