In case you haven’t gotten the memo, Pride is not canceled this year. We may not be able to march together, but we still have Pride in who we are, and we’re inventing creative ways to celebrate and show up for each other because that’s what queer people do.
Another thing queer people do is dote upon their pets to a ridiculous degree. Given that many of us are still stuck at home, why not bring your dog into the fold and celebrate Pride with him?! Did you know that dogs have long been associated with gay sex? Now you do. (Sorry.)
As if you needed an excuse to dress your dog up as a rainbow, teach him to hold a Pride flag in his mouth, or buy him the gayest toys you can find — now’s your chance! Here are three coronavirus-proof ways to celebrate Pride with your best friend in the whole wide world.
I am a complete sucker for Pride-themed… everything, including and Pride-themed pet supplies. I have been a subscriber to BarkBox for years and was thrilled when I got an email that the company had rolled out Pride-themed toys that could be added on for June to my dog’s box. That said, I’m not a fan of being marketed to for the sake of marketing, and my dog (who is very politically savvy) isn’t either. I connected with the folks at BarkBox and learned that they didn’t want to just put a rainbow on their dog toys and call it a Pride collection.
One of BARK’s founders, Carly Strife, is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, making the company queer-owned. As such, staff let me know that Pride has internally been part of the company’s culture from the beginning. This year’s dog toy Pride collection was designed by BarkBox designer “Cute Brute” on Instagram AKA Derek, who explained that “slapping a rainbow on a brand like it’s a sports team can, honestly, feel a bit pandering. We knew immediately this wasn’t our vibe. Instead, we wanted to celebrate the humor and irreverence and playfulness that makes our community so brilliant. What was relevant to us and our own social groups? Our way of connecting is ‘We see you. We are you. We made this for us.’ And hopefully, that comes across.” I am especially excited about the Indigo SQUIRRELS and I haven’t yet decided if the dog will get to keep those, or if they will live in my personal collection of plush toys in my office.”
Looking to take your dog’s Pride involvement to the next level? How about teaching them a Pride trick! We all know that Pride began as an act of resistance, a protest. To get your dog into the spirit you can teach your dog a fun trick to hold a protest sign like “PRIDE was a Police Riot” or a small Pride flag. Have your dog hold their sign at your socially distanced pet Pride party to impress your friends, or upload a picture to social media.
- Small flag or cardboard sign that you would like your dog to hold
- Treats that your dog likes
To teach your dog to hold a flag, follow these steps.
- Sit with your dog facing you and show the flag or sign to your dog
- When your dog sniffs or goes to explore the flag treat and praise. You want to start by rewarding any interest in the flag/sign
- When your dog is consistently interested in the flag/sign, wait to treat and praise until your dog puts her mouth around the flag/sign then, treat and praise.
- Next, very slowly wait to treat/praise fractions of a second longer with your dog holding the flag
- After several training sessions, your dog will begin to offer to take the flag from your hands and hold it. They’re Pride-at-home protest ready!
If you and your pets are missing some of your besties but need to continue social distancing, you can plan a virtual Pride gathering with your friends and chosen families with a pet Pride costume contest or fashion show. From bandanas and Pride-themed collars, leashes, and harnesses to more elaborate outfits, you can craft Pride gear for your pets or support local artists or Etsy sellers creating Pride accessories for pets. If you’re looking to find something quickly, Target has unleashed a full Pride pet collection, which partially benefits GLSEN. The collection includes bandanas, bowties, sweatbands, collars, toys, tutus, and even some Pride costumes for dogs and cats.
Full confession: I couldn’t resist purchasing the rainbow costume for my Newfoundland, Sirius. At over 100 pounds, she makes quite the impression as her one-dog Pride Parade walking through the neighborhood but all our LGBTQ+ neighbors have been so enthusiastic about seeing her.
Honestly, until we started our nightly socially distanced Pride marches, I had no idea how many queer people there were in my neighborhood. But now they and lots of allied neighbors look forward to Sirius’ nightly one dog Pride parade.
This is a year unlike any most of us have ever experienced. To say the least, things are hard, scary, and overwhelming. There are major social justice and health issues we all need to focus on, but it’s also important to make time for joy and play to help us to soothe ourselves, refocus, and recommit. Centering joy and play is one of the blessings that pets bring to our homes and family every day, and I believe that this is one of the important things our pets can help us to bring into Pride 2020 and share with our friends, family, and community.
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