My love-hate relationship with fashion centers on shoes. For years, I spent obscene amounts of money on footwear, only to have the priciest pairs devoured by my discerning dogs. If shoes had a designer label, they inevitably got eaten first.
My favorite incident of shoe destruction concerned two pairs of Jack Rogers sandals, the very ones immortalized by Jackie O. One pair was hot pink, the other, frog-green; happily, the right foot of one and the left foot of the other escaped the chew-fest unscathed, so I took to wearing the unmatched set with jeans. (Hey, I live with five large dogs in New York City, so people already look at me funny – it hardly matters what I wear on my feet.)
Then I went through a phase of wearing athletic shoes almost exclusively. This certainly kept my “dogs” comfortable during dog outings and all day long, motivating me to spend more time walking; but wearing such sensible shoes didn’t do much for my style cred.
Happily for my inner fashion hound, the sneakers-only phase came to an end with the advent of Payless and its parade of designers who churn out stylish, affordable shoes. Now, my “dogs” are always well-heeled in fabulous footwear, from flats to sky-high heels. Plus, when you buy one Payless pair, the second pair is reduced to half price. And very often, their shoes are vegan, with imitation leather lasts and rubber soles: a great way to show kindness to our friends in the animal kingdom.
But just because these shoes are inexpensive, don’t think your high-fashion hound won’t want to claim them as her own. If you’re a dog lover and a fool for shoes, you’ll need to take extra care not to just kick off your pretty heels when you get home. Do that and you’ll be leaving your footwear vulnerable to attack.
And really, who could blame a dog for wanting to tackle these gorgeous walking sculptures? Think about it: Just as you couldn’t wait to slip your feet into that delicious pair of pumps, Spot can’t wait to sink her teeth into them. You’re both consumers, after all, it’s just that you consume shoes in different ways. Your shoes also smell like you, so irritating though it is, it’s kind of a compliment when your dog wants to commune so primally with your scent that she’ll demolish what you wore on your feet!
So, whether you spend a little on shoes or a lot, spend a few minutes putting them away neatly in a closet, or stack them in boxes on a high shelf. Yeah, yeah, you say: My dog’s so well-behaved she doesn’t chew shoes. Trust me: No one is well-behaved around these shoes, especially the sexier styles. Many of the season’s hottest shoes are simply too enticing for Spot to resist customizing them with her jaws and claws.
Take, for instance, a pretty pair of ghillies by Isabel Toledo for Payless. The chunky, bright-yellow rubber sole makes these an excellent, cool-yet-comfy choice for a stylish walk in the rain – with or without the dog – but also causes them to resemble an especially toothsome chew toy. And the shiny black last has laces that are equally inviting, especially to an inquisitive pup!
Pull-on “Belted Poodle Boots,” also by Isabel Toledo for Payless, stand on a metal stiletto heel and are covered with silvery-charcoal fake fur, like, well, a tall, elegant, and very glam Poodle. But they also resemble extra-large plush chew toys – leave them out and your pup will diligently try to locate the squeaker she’s convinced is hidden under all that inviting fuzz.
Having dogs and chic footwear is as simple as training yourself to put your favorite shoes away high out of Spot’s reach whenever you’re not wearing them. The first line of defense is a good footwear-organization system that lets you see what you’ve got while keeping your collection safe. The Container Store stocks pretty much anything a high-heel hound needs to keep her collection safe from pet predation.
Over-door shoe racks might not be the prettiest, but they are certainly practical. Fashionistas started the trend of storing their Manolos in the boxes they came in, marked with photos of the boxes’ contents. Clear plastic storage boxes are another way to go, as you can see right through them – no need for labeling.
If your closet is overflowing and your collection is too pretty to keep hidden, consider artfully arranging pairs of shoes alongside your books and CDs – but if you make your footwear collection this high-profile, be sure to shine the shoes regularly, top and bottom, and stuff the toes with tissue paper to help them keep their shape.
If you’re incorrigible and just can’t be trained to put away your shoes, try spraying some taste deterrent on the underside of the soles, where it can’t discolor the leather; bitter apple and tea tree oil are both flavors dogs dislike.
Finally, give Spot her own “shoe,” sanctioned for her gnawing pleasure: a chew toy that takes the shape of a treaded boot sole. This ought to help direct Spot’s destructive tendencies away from your real shoes (or so one hopes).