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I admit that I’m as much of a fashion maven as most women. I don’t go for extreme fashion trends,  but I do like to look my best. I generally lean more towards the practical than the whimsical, but occasionally I slip and buy something extravagant, unpractical, and even showy. I am thrilled when I find an outfit that combines practicality with a bit of flare. But even I was not prepared when L’il Sis drew my attention to a website from which she had just purchased an item. She was excited to show me this hitherto undiscovered treasure of a site.

When she clicked onto it, my jaw dropped. Then I burst into laughter. It was a website for ‘feather wear’ — a site for bird ‘fashions’. You could have knocked me over with, excuse the obvious cheap joke, a feather.

I, like many dog owners, have occasionally succumbed to coats and boots for our family dogs. I never humiliated Poochie  by making her wear a winter coat since her fur was so thick she was hot even when experiencing the Polar Vortex. But The Pig (L’il Sis’s beagle) wore a stylish pink plaid coat to keep her warm. And, I admit somewhat guiltily, that L’il Sis designed and made a ‘Sherlock Hound’ cape and cap (an homage to the famous detective) for her first beagle as his Hallowe’en costume. It was made of houndstooth wool (what else?) and he looked extremely fetching in it, even if I do say so as a proud grandma. And come wintertime, he was decked out in a fake suede ‘aviator’ coat with faux fleece lining to keep his aging body warm. I find myself somewhat aghast when I see the frills and frou-frou outfits some people inflict on their pets, but I am onboard with practical coats etc. to keep the pets from freezing.

L’il Sis pointed at the computer screen (after I stopped laughing): “There…that’s the ‘Blue Jean Baby’ harness thingy I got for Vera!”  Vera is her recently acquired white fantail pigeon. Amazing the things you can find on Kijiji (especially when you spend many hours trolling their pet ads). Vera is, as you can imagine (being a pigeon), a rather large bird to be inside an apartment. For most of the day, she is happily ensconced in a long hamster ‘cage’ while L’il Sis and her hubby are at work. She has room to roam within it and is quite content. But in the evenings, she comes out to spend time with them…and presumably their Dominican rescue dog Groucho. The cat apparently is oblivious to Vera… just as well!

As a long-standing bird owner, I am aware of certain, uh, issues when it comes to birds being free outside their cages. The biggest problem is, obviously, their poop. Some birds poop more frequently than others. Some birds’ poop (and apologies here for the graphic nature of this discussion) is small and dries quickly so one is able to collect it easily in a tissue. This is an advantage if the bird is standing on your shoulder. Although, having said that,  every member of our family has at some time gone out in public without realizing that they are sporting a tiny, hard divet of hardened poop on their shoulder.

The larger the bird, of course, the larger the poop. Parrots have very large poops. And, as L’il Sis discovered, so do pigeons. (I figure that she was aware of this before acquiring Vera since she has lived in Toronto for years and is acutely aware of the pigeon poop that embellishes the city streets.) At any rate, since she wanted to allow Vera some freedom in the evenings, she brought the bird out of her cage and promptly discovered that the piles of poop were mounting. Being a fastidious person (she has a whiff of OCD about her and cleans compulsively when upset), she had to find a way to deal with this. Also, being a former women’s clothes designer herself, she has an innate fashion sense. And at one time, she designed and made doggie diapers — called ‘Rover’s Under Overs’– underwear for over the fur– inspired by her incontinent old beagle Wilbur (of Sherlock Hound fame).

She explained to me:”I wondered if there was such a thing as bird diapers, so I went online and, voila, “Feather Wear” for birds! See, Mom, this is the one I got for Vera!” She pointed to a blue jean fabric harness that goes around and then under  the bird’s wings and ends in a pouch-like piece that covers the bird’s rear end and poop hole, thus containing the damage. There were some very flashy ‘outfits’, including some in loud colors for larger Macaw-type birds. (I’m not totally sure they outdid L’il Sis’s designer doggie pink ‘Saturday Night Special’, though. Perhaps because that wasn’t astonishing enough, the website provides a ‘how-to’ video of the method by which one ‘dresses’ a hapless, large white duck with a poop harness. I swear, I almost died laughing!

I see the reason for L’il Sis’s purchase of Vera’s poop apparel, and I applaud her practicality, but I can now die a happy woman in the sense that I have now seen everything!!