For Halloween this year, we wanted to dress our golden retrievers Phoenix and Gryphon as something cute and colorful. We wanted something a little more unusual, that would give us a chance to be creative and do our own take on it. We decided on dressing them as Whos from "Horton Hears a Who" by Dr. Seuss.
We love Dr. Seuss books, because although they seem like they are intended for younger audiences, they always have a deeper meaning that make them relevant for everyone. In the case of the Horton book, the message was about accepting everyone, no matter their differences.
In this story, Horton hears the Whos calling for help, even though they are so tiny that they are no bigger than a speck of dust. All Horton's friends think he’s crazy and try to get rid of the speck, because they don't believe anyone is on it. Horton, though, doesn’t give up, and he gets all the Whos in Whoville to make lots of noise so that they are loud enough for his friends to hear. So it also has messages about working together and never giving up.
In creating these costumes, we first studied all the different interpretations of Whos. There are Dr. Seuss' original drawings, the classic cartoon version from the TV special, as well as the more recent animated movie starring Jim Carrey. Each of these depicted the Whos a little bit differently, but still had a lot of similarities. We decided we wanted the Who costumes to be made from bright faux fur with stripes.
The outfits were sewn from pink and green fur for Phoenix's outfit, and pink and purple fur, for Gryphon’s outfit. We also noticed that all the Whos had very long, skinny, and free-flowing arms. We thought this would be a good thing to incorporate into the costumes. So the arms are made with the faux fur sewn around thick wire, so that they would be moveable. The hands have three fingers each, sewn out of a white cotton, which resembled the ones from Dr. Seuss' original drawings.
Another important aspect of the Whos is their crazy and unusual hairstyles. When we studied the Whos, we noticed most of them had crazy pigtails, braids, pieces of hair sticking up, and flowers and bows everywhere. We wanted to make sure to replicate this for these costumes. We were able to get one wig intended for a Who, with crazy braids sticking up in a curve. It came in bright green, which was great, because it perfectly matched one of the outfits. We added some bright pink ribbons bows to the ends of the braids, as well as a big bow on the big poof of the hair.
For the other wig, we found one that was pink and purple, to match the other outfit. It had pigtails, which we wrapped wire around to make them stick up, and added little bows going up and down them. We also got an artificial flower, which we twisted into the wig with wire, so that it stuck out from the top.
To finish up the costumes, we got little knitted shoes in matching colors. The shoes were sewn without a bottom, so that they were able to slip over the dogs’ paws, and rest on top of them, so they were able to walk more easily while wearing them. We glued elastic around the rim of them, so they would stay on securely. We also added cheeks, which were cut out of sticky back felt. The cheeks stuck on lightly to their real cheeks, and were easy to remove.
In addition, since the Whos use Who-trumpets to make noise in the story, we wanted them to each carry a Who-trumpet. The Who-trumpets usually have a crazy shape, with lots of horn parts coming out of different places on the base of the instrument. We made these out of PVC Pipe, attaching together curvy long pieces with different couplings, and attaching funnels sticking out. We made them colorful by adding stripes of colored duct tape wrapping around.
We then tried to create a special Dr. Seuss themed background to match. We wanted to include Horton in the photo, but since he would be so big compared to the Whos, we thought you might just see the bottom of his trunk. We made the trunk out of gray felt, which we glued thick wire onto the inside of and stuffed. We were then able to bend it into the shape we wanted. We also gave him a magnifying glass to hold, which we made by twisting jumbo chenille stems together and attaching a handle we painted and cut out of posterboard.
We also added clovers, which we made out of posterboard tubes that we colored, and beach balls covered with pink boas. The dogs are sitting on clovers as well, with the tops made of posterboard covered with boas, atop wooden boxes covered with black felt, to make a sturdy surface for them to perch on. We completed it with drawings of crazy trees and bushes, which we tried to draw in a Seuss like style, and then attached them to the background.
We also wrote a little poem, which is take-off on the Seuss version of "Horton", but about Phoenix and Gryphon as the Whos. Here it is:
Way down in Whoville lived two Whos, both quite cute, Named Phoenix and Gryphon, each in a furry striped suit. They did up their hair with flowers and bows, And they wore pointy shoes, to cover their toes. The Whos were so tiny, no bigger than a dot Though if you missed seeing them, you were missing a lot. But Horton the elephant, 100 times their size Was not able to see them, with his elephant eyes But he heard them, and placed them on pink clovers with great care Though his friends thought him crazy, he knew they were there. He tried to see them with his magnifying glass But the Whos were just too small to spot, alas. He asked them to make noise, so his friends would know it was true. And through trumpets and who-horns, they blew and they blew. When Phoenix and Gryphon blew together, his friends finally heard their call, And then they understood "A person's a person, no matter how small!"
Our friends and family seemed to love the costumes when we showed them off. They seemed to love the bright colors and the crazy hair. It was a lot of fun!