Sitting in the den, wrapped in a homemade Christmas sweater depicting blocky reindeer leaping over a pixelated fir tree, Pepe Larue rightly presumed that few of his fellow dogs had suffered as much indignity as he. It was ignoble enough to be born a Chihuahua, the breed cursed with an intelligence disproportionate to their miniature stature, but to be reminded of his inability to overpower or even escape his tormentors, that was the greatest crime of all.
Since he had come to live with the Liebowitzes as a puppy, he had been subjected to all manner of costuming. In a household with multiple daughters, the odds are high that at least one will like dressing up. The Liebowitzes had three. With an easily subdued playmate always at their disposal, the girls could augment their own playtime in whatever varieties their toybox would allow. First Pepe was adorned in the tutus and tiaras of their larger dolls, until their mother began tailoring miniature costumes to his dimensions.
While he could be dressed in a policeman’s cap and jacket or a prince’s ruffles and cape any day of the year, Halloween was truly a time to capitalize on Pepe’s willingness to submit to their schemes. After weeks of fitful fittings and thoughtful stares, Pepe would be outfitted in an elaborate costume, frequently becoming wrapped up in a family wide theme, being variously Robin Hood, Bruce Lee, and Frankenstein’s monster, among many others over his long eight years.
As the girls grew older, it became less of an obsession and more of a novelty to dress Pepe up, much to his relief. Still, special occasions merited special outfitting, so Pepe was obliged to wear a Cupid wing and quiver in February, and a leprechaun’s hat in March, and so on. One President’s Day he was made up like Abraham Lincoln, complete with a felt mole that took some effort to attach.
Ultimately he resigned himself to a life of playing mannequin to this family. All the irritation of his current, custom Christmas sweater was ultimately worthwhile, so long as he heard from the humans – whom, despite their obsession, he so dearly loved – those two key words: “Good dog.”