Making a dog formal is harder than you think.

Not that I expect you’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about how to make dog formals. I hadn’t spent any time at all on the subject---not up until last week when the task unexpectedly presented itself on my to-do list. See, I was getting ready for Wear Orange Wednesday, a state-wide hunger-awareness event that Montana No Kid Hungry helps to promote every year. People are encouraged to sport their best orange gear as a visible reminder of the effort to end childhood hunger in Montana. Communities also conduct anti-hunger efforts such as food drives as a tangible way for people to get involved.

My dog, Barclay, had already joined the fight by getting his model face on for promotional photos appearing on flyers around school and across town. It could just be the proud parent in me talking, but I found his pictures to be particularly eye-catching and inspiring. If one good-looking English Springer Spaniel could have that effect, just think what could be done with more animals! All different kinds of animals! Heaps and piles and hordes of animals!

And that is how I came to be strategizing the best way to turn a human-sized shimmering pile of orange sparkle-fluff into something off the latest pages of Canine Couture. First of all, there’s the problem of the legs. If the dress is long enough to look good in the back, it’s too long and gets in the way up front. Bodices are hard to fit properly around---not girlish curves---but muscly shoulder blades. However, the hardest obstacle I had to overcome to get my pictures was the complete disinterest on the part of the model. Jaqueline Hyde would much rather have been chasing squeaky toys than posing in princess costumes! Thankfully, she’s easily bought, and few dog treats later, I had my pictures.  Actually, base bribery was a common theme throughout my picture taking campaign. It turns out that not many animals are interested in fame and fortune, but they will accept a well-timed cookie.

Thanks to a community of caring individuals, and the efforts of people like Alyssa Hurst, a member of the Governor’s Youth Council, Plentywood collected enough food during Wear Orange Wednesday to start an emergency kid pack program for children in crisis! I don’t know if my hapless models would agree it was worth having to wear crazy clothes and sit still for pictures, but I’m excited that I was able to be a part of such a great accomplishment.

Tina Kahrs
Montana No Kid Hungry-PRC AmeriCorps VISTA
Plentywood, MT