Loving his new dino shirt.

I’ve decided to throw a Halloween party again this year, and I’ve offered my guests an optional theme: undead Disney. Basically, they are supposed to choose a Disney character and make that character undead (e.g. zombie Snow White or vampire Mickey).

Yes. It’s going to get weird… and creepy. But that’s the point.

I chose Tinkerbell, a fairy from the 1953 Disney animated film Peter Pan. So naturally, my significant other is going to be Peter Pan. (He’s a good sport, considering that means we’re both going to be wearing tights and a green dress.) And our dog, Oreo, is going to be Tick-Tock.

Derek lends me his safety glasses to construct Oreo's costume.
Derek lends me his safety glasses to construct Oreo’s costume.

Who’s Tick-Tock, you ask? Tick-Tock the crocodile that eats Captain Hook’s hand, as well as an alarm clock (hence the name). In fact, Tick Tock tries to eat pretty much everything he sees. That’s one reason why I thought he’d be a fitting character for Oreo to portray.

According to Disney Wikia, Tick-Tock was born 20 years before the events of Peter Pan, hatching on the shores of Neverland and adopted by the a fairy named Rosetta. Years later, Peter Pan cut off Captain Hook’s hand while in battle, then proceeded to feed the hand to Tick-Tock as a snack.

Sometimes when you look into the details of Disney stories, they’re a bit shocking, to say the least. For example, the entire premise of 101 Dalmatians is that a rich woman wants the pelts of 101 dalmatian puppies to make a fur coat. And did you realize that in Junglebook,the reason the boy Mowgli is making friends with a bear in the first place is because his village was attacked by a tiger? In the Little Mermaid, a bitter sea witch is turning people into immobile slugs, and in The Lion King, the villain orchestrates the death of his brother, then is killed by his nephew.

I love all of these movies. But you have to admit, a Disney-themed Halloween party is starting to make more and more sense.

So for costumes, I successfully sewed a sparkly, lime green Tinkerbell dress (after two pathetic prototypes), then moved on to transform my dog into Tick-Tock, a giant saltwater crocodile.

Cut the back bigger than the front because it has to stretch over the dog's entire back, which compared to its chest, is much wider and longer.
Cut the back bigger than the front because it has to stretch over the dog’s entire back, which compared to its chest, is much wider and longer.

I found felt and fleece scraps in three different shades of green at a Marden’s discount and surplus store, then got to work. I was able to make a rough pattern by examining a few dog coats I purchased for Oreo in the past, but eventually, I had to rely on Oreo being a good boy and remaining still as I pinned the cloth in the right places.

Basically, I made Oreo a tank top. (Dogs typically don’t like things on their heads, tails or feet, but some dogs, such as Oreo, don’t mind shirts/coats.)

These are my directions, however informal and vague:

  • Make it like you would a human tank top, with seams running up the sides. This means you’ll have to cut a front piece and a back piece, then sew them together.
  • In general, you’ll cut these pieces in the shape of a tank top. But dogs are shaped differently than humans. You’ll want to make the back piece longer and wider than the front piece. Why? The back piece will cover up the dog’s entire back, while the front piece should stop at the end of the rib cage so the dog doesn’t catch it with its back feet or pee on it.
  • To cut these pieces, you can measure your dog, or you can guess. I suggest cutting the two halves of the tank top so that they’re bigger than you think they should be. You can always cut it down. Also, the seams will eat up about an inch of the edges.
  • Oreo wasn't excited about being a model, but he was a good boy.
    Oreo wasn’t excited about being a model, but he was a good boy.

    Use your dog as a model. You might be surprised how big of a neck your dog has. You may need to make adjustments.

  • Pin the two halves together, lining up their edges, on the sides and the shoulders (both sides of the neck), then sew (using a machine or stitching by hand). Materials such as felt and fleece are very easy to sew by hand.
  • The tank top should be a little loose so you can actually put it on your dog (head first, then the legs, one at a time).
  • If you want, you can sew an elastic into the front, along the bottom edge, so that its snug to your dog’s chest/stomach.

I understand that as far as sewing instructions go, those were pretty terrible. But at least you get an idea of my general thought process when trying to create something that I don’t actually know how to create. In other words, if I can do it, you can do it.

Now for the ridge.
Now for the ridge.

After constructing the basic dog tank top, light green on the bottom and dark green on top (like a crocodile), I made a ridge of spikes along the back of the costume with a long dark strip of cloth, which I sewed, cut and stuffed until satisfied. (I have no idea how to explain what I did.)

I was tickled with my creation until I realized that for some reason, Oreo looked more like a dinosaur than a crocodile. So I studied the photos of Tick-Tock again and realized that he has two ridges of spikes running down his back! I then looked at photos of real crocodiles and, indeed, they have two parallel ridges. Darn. Since I made the spikes smack dab in the middle of Oreo’s costume, there was no way I could fix it.

So now Oreo is a dinosaur for Halloween.

Luckily, Disney created a film in 2000 called Dinosaur, so I’ll pretend that’s what I was aiming for all along.

Yay! Dinosaur.. I mean, Tick Tock!
Yay! Dinosaur.. I mean, Tick Tock!

As for making Oreo undead, I’m not sure it’s wise to put fake blood on a dog and let him loose at a party. But I suppose, since Oreo will now be a dinosaur, it’s kind of a given that he’s undead, since that particular group of animals went into extinction millions of years ago.

Anyway, Oreo will be going to a kennel for the party. He’s not great with crowds of people he doesn’t know. Nevertheless, I wanted to include him in the theme. And now he has an awesome new outfit that you can bet he’ll wear regardless of whether it’s Halloween or not.

Loving his new dino shirt.
Loving his new dino shirt.

For an explanation for why Oreo wears coats this time of year and throughout winter, visit my posts: “Bangor business blends love of dogs and fashion” and “How cold is too cold for dogs?”

Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...