As I've mentioned a time or two, I'm the oldest of eight kids. That's a lot of Halloween costumes to design, a lot of kids to be high on sugar and excitement. Add to this the fact that I grew up in Vermont, where Halloween costumes often must be compatible with sub-freezing temperatures. Inevitably one kid ended up that night with a costume that fell apart at the last minute, or which proved inadequate for the weather or which lost some crucial component. For these situations, Mom designed...the dog costume.
Now, lots of people dress up like dogs or cats for Halloween, but usually these are fancy schmancy deals involving ears on little headbands and detailed makeup done from kits with step-by-step directions, and maybe even a furry suit. This was not our way. Instead, Mom would scrounge through the dryer and the bin of lost socks and find two more or less black socks that more or less matched, and tuck these into a hat as ears. Then she'd take a wine cork and burn it slightly, and use that to give us a black nose.
That was pretty much it. A few dots on the cheeks, maybe. Black clothes if we had them.
Most years at least the baby went as a dog, and I remember one year (I think Mom was newly pregnant with one of my youngest siblings and really not much feelin' Halloween) we went as an entire PACK of puppies. People loved it. "Aw, so cute! What a great idea!"
I've used it as a fallback a couple of times even as an adult, most recently at a party this Saturday when it was either that or go uncostumed. I did solicit other ideas, some of which were pretty funny: writing "Error 404: Costume not found" on a t-shirt, for example, or Mike Clemens' mustache-on-a-stick method of playing both yourself and your evil twin, or (horrrrible, but still funny) wearing biking clothes, taping a syringe to my arm, and going as Lance Armstrong. But in the end, I went for the dog.
It ended up pretty slapdash. For one thing, it turned out my only black socks had writing on them, so I turned them inside out so at least they'd say "Dr. Scholls" in blurry backward fuzz instead of as a crisp, clear tattoo. For another, I didn't want to drive up I-5 with a black nose, so I applied it in the bathroom when I got there (burnt cork) while small children banged on the door and whispered theatrically about needing to peeeee. So it came out rather lopsided.
Whatever. Good 'nough. That's the name of the game.