Halloween Costumes…. To Make or Not to Make

I love the Fall with its beauty.  I do admit to some sadness at the end of summer but once Fall starts up with the changing leaves, the fresh apples and cider in our local orchard, the opening of the pumpkin patch and some cooler evenings spent snuggling with my favorite Springer Spaniels I am completely on board.

And of course, there’s Halloween which can be such fun for humans but not always for our canine friends.  That’s not the topic of this blog, however, please remember to keep your pets safe during this time of year.  What I’m really wondering about today is … dog costumes.  I had a Springer named Wembley and he LOVED to trick or treat with the kids.  Normally I think this is not a great idea for dogs because it can be very stressful for them and potentially unsafe.  Wembley, however, was unique in so many ways.  So, my sister and I dressed him up for several years and took him through our neighborhood with my niece Brittney and nephew Nathan to gather treats.   He was a huge fan of treats and would do just about anything to gain one.  My sister, being the creative one, was in charge of costume design.  He was batman, which was a hit with the male trick or treaters, a gift wrapped Christmas package one year and the traditional hot dog.  He loved greeting all the people and they loved seeing him.  When Brittney and Nathan went up to each house, he went right along with them because he was one of the kids.  Wembley has been gone for several years now and gave up his trick or treating as he aged.


Even though I no longer go trick or treating, I find that I still dress my dogs up in costumes, especially if attending this year’s English Springer Rescue America (ESRA) costume party on Instagram and Facebook.  Linus and Lila will be there for sure!  There are prizes and I’m a sucker to see all the dogs in costume.  It’s so much fun.

Now comes the part that requires much thought.  Costumes!  What should Linus and Lila be for Halloween?  How do people decide?  How many others dress up their dogs in costumes?  I think a lot of people do much to the dismay of their best four-legged friends.  I’m going to need to do some research for Lila anyway.  Linus was named after Linus Van Pelt of the Charlie Brown series and I have wanted to dress him like Linus for so many years and this year is the year.  But what about Lila?  She is also named after a lesser known Charlie Brown character and that could be an option.  Lila was Snoopy’s first owner who had to give him up when her family moved into an apartment that did not allow dogs.  Not exactly my Lila’s story but she has a happy ending like Snoopy regardless.

So, back to my research.  Each year ESRA has a Halloween party on Facebook and Instagram.  Let’s check out the competition and see if we can get some ideas.

IG Costumes.png

Wow!  This looks like serious competition.  I could be in big trouble here.  I no longer live near my creative sister.  I have this really creative co-worker that can make anything and she convinced me that I should MAKE their costumes.  What was I thinking?   I mean Amazon will deliver in 2 days!

Linus’ costume wasn’t too difficult.  He wears a red shirt with stripes and carries a blue blanket.  Surely I can draw some black lines on a red shirt.  I’m going to need some pumpkins too, if he’s to be in the pumpkin patch looking for The Great Pumpkin.  It seems clear that Lila will need to be Lucy Van Pelt aka Linus’ sister.  I’m going to need to make her a dress and some “Lucy hair”.  All I can say is it’s not Thanksgiving but I am so thankful for three things; glue guns, my sister-in-law and my mom.

I think they look great!  Linus and Lila think they prefer the treats that I’m giving them instead of these clothes I have put on them.  I have no idea if they will win any prizes but they both get top awards from me for being fantastic models and good sports.  Lila’s Lucy hair, in particular, is hilarious.  Wait, you didn’t think I was going to show them to you on this blog, did you?  If you want to see their homemade costumes, you’re gonna to have come to the ESRA Halloween Pawty on October 31.  Links to ESRA’s Facebook and Instagram accounts are on the bottom of the page.

What will your dog be this year?  Will you make your costume?  Is your Springer going to be scary or funny?  I can’t wait to see.

Halloween Party.jpg

What Exactly Happens at a Springer National Specialty?

A couple of weeks ago, the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association held their National Specialty event at Purina Farms just west of St. Louis, Missouri.  If you’re like I was a few years ago, you might be asking yourself, what’s this all about?  What goes on at these events?  Does this have anything at all to do with rescued English Springer Spaniels?  

I had to see for myself.  So, back in 2007 when I first heard about something called a National Specialty for Springer Spaniels, I decided to travel from Texas to Lexington, Kentucky to check it out.  I was absolutely astounded by what I found.  There were all kinds of events and  I met some amazing people who ultimately led me to volunteering for ESRA. 

The next National Specialty was to be held in Dallas the following year.  At that time, I lived in Dallas so I attended again and met local ESRA volunteers who were so fun and welcoming.  I’ve been volunteering with ESRA ever since and have attended two more National Specialty events where I accompanied my rescued Springers Linus and Lila in the Parade of Rescues.

What can you expect if you decide to attend a National Specialty for Springers?  There are a number of competition events during the week, including Conformation (like you see on tv), Scent, Obedience, Agility and Rally trials.


In addition to the competition events, there is the Parade of Rescues where rescued Springer Spaniels take a lap around the show ring with their owners while the audience listens to the story of their rescue.  There is never a dry eye in the house during this event and it is a personal favorite of mine.  It is truly a feeling of joy to walk your best buddy around that ring while everyone applauds and cheers.


These rescued Springers are each so special and have amazing stories.  It’s just a very emotional and beautiful experience to participate in or observe.

The National Specialty is a great place to learn more about Springer Spaniels and what kinds of activities they can participate in.  We had an adopter drive up from Arkansas this year for that very reason.  In addition, two ESRA Springers passed all ten of the requirements to earn their Canine Good Citizen Certificates.  The Canine Good Citizen Program is an AKC (American Kennel Club) two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs.

You can’t have a party without some good food, so naturally ESRA volunteers find time to gather for dinner and camaraderie.  There is also a silent auction full of beautiful specialty items for all budgets.  Perhaps the best part of attending one of these Specialties is the special friendships that are formed and enhanced during this week of Springer togetherness.  ESRA also has a fabulous booth manned by many volunteers and their ESRA representatives.

So, if this article has intrigued you at all, the next English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association National Specialty will be Saturday, October 5, 2019 through Saturday, October 12, 2019 in San Diego, California.  I know it’s on my list to attend for some of the events.  It’s not necessary to be there the whole week unless you’re participating in some of the competition events.  Most of the rescue events take place over the weekend.  There is also a website that will keep you up to date on all of the latest information.  We hope to see you there for more Springer fun!