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18 Matching Halloween Costume Ideas for You and Your Dog

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Amazon

Halloween is coming up, and you’re going to want to pick the perfect theme for you and your date—your date being your dog, of course. (Last year, it was estimated that Americans would spend around $350 million on their pets’ costumes. We know you were one of those people.) Make sure you and your furry friend have an on-point theme when you start trick-or-treating. We have some ideas that are pretty easy to assemble yourself, but we also included some links to pre-made costumes, since we know your dog is just useless with the sewing machine.

1. POKEMON

My dog Teddy & I cosplay together - here we are at Pop Expo as Ash & Pikachu!!

Name a more iconic duo than Ash and Pikachu… we’ll wait. Dressing like the Pokemon character Ash Ketchum might be a decent costume on its own, but it really comes together if you carry around a tiny Pikachu.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

2. GHOSTBUSTERS

If there’s something strange in the neighborhood, it’s probably your dog. Mischievous pets will look great dressed in a green Slimer costume. Grab your best pair of tan coveralls and try to keep your furry ghost in line.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

3. KATY PERRY AND LEFT SHARK

OK, this reference is a little old, but it’s possibly old enough to be a fun throwback idea. Besides, can you imagine anything better than a dog dressed like Katy Perry? Such a cute pup deserves the right backup dancer to move just out of time with the beat.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

4. FAST FOOD

When you hit the Halloween party, people are going to be like “who is that hot dog?” They might also ask about that intriguingly tall sleeve of French fries. “Calm down, everyone,” you’ll say. “There’s plenty of fries to go around.”

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

5. LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND GRANDMOTHER

Grandma, what big teeth you have! Dress your dog up like a grandmother, and they'll look just like the Big Bad Wolf. With a Red Riding Hood outfit, you two will be a fairytale couple.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume (cap) (sweater)

6. SNOW WHITE AND THE POISON APPLE

Dogs and Snow White actually have a lot in common: They’re both great with other animals, and they’ll eat food from strangers without a second thought. While your dog wears the iconic Disney outfit, you can be the poison apple that does her in.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

7. PILGRIM AND TURKEY

Once Halloween ends, it's time to get into the Thanksgiving spirit. If you can't wait even one extra day to jump into Fall, dress your dog like a turkey and gobble up all the treats you get together.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

8. UNICORN AND RAINBOW

Every unicorn needs a rainbow to leap over. You can wear this comically large rainbow on your shoulders while your dog tries not to look too embarrassed in this purple unicorn getup.

Find it: Human costume; Dog costume

9. 1920S DUO

Relive the glitz and glamor (and organized crime) of the '20s with a flapper and gangster outfit. Your pooch will look dashing in a pinstripe suit that would make even Al Capone envious.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

10. KETCHUP AND MUSTARD

Ketchup and mustard are great together, just like you and your dog. You'll be the big bottle of ketchup to your dog’s small mustard packet. Now you just need to find that duo dressed like the hot dog and fries ...

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

11. TOURISTS

You and your pup can pretend to be heading straight to a tropical vacation after the party. Your dog can wear this fun tourist costume and you can create your own with a Hawaiian shirt, lei, and beachcomber hat.

12. MAGICIAN AND RABBIT

What’s a magician without a beautiful, furry assistant? You can wear a hat and cape to create the look of a magician while your dog begrudgingly dons a pair of floppy ears. Just don’t try to pull Fido out of a hat.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

13. HAMBURGLAR HEIST

The Hamburglar would be just a regular crook if it weren't for his precious, tasty loot. This time the stolen burger is actually your dog, but the love connection is just as strong.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume 

14. UPS DELIVERY

Get this costume for a reliable child in your life and this costume for a dog to keep them from eating all the candy. If you’re looking for an adult option, try these brown coveralls and sew on a UPS patch.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

15. DAMSEL IN DISTRESS

Every princess needs a fierce dragon around, right? This pink princess outfit and dragon onesie will be the perfect ensemble for parties, trick-or-treating, or Renaissance fairs.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

16. DEVILED EGGS

Get it? OK, it’s a weak pun, but you’ll definitely be a cute duo dressed as a devil and an egg. At least it’s a slight step up from those non-punny bacon and egg couple costumes.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

17. SKELETON CREW

The beauty of this costume is the simplicity—just pick up a couple of skeleton suits, and you and your pup are good to go. You can also include other friends (human, canine, or otherwise) to create a whole boney crew.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

18. JFK AND JACKIE O

You and your dog can emulate this presidential power couple pretty easily: All you need is a canine suit and a pink skirt suit with a pillbox hat.

Find it: Human costume, Dog costume

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Penn Vet Working Dog Center
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
New Program Trains Dogs to Sniff Out Art Smugglers
Penn Vet Working Dog Center
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Soon, the dogs you see sniffing out contraband at airports may not be searching for drugs or smuggled Spanish ham. They might be looking for stolen treasures.

K-9 Artifact Finders, a new collaboration between New Hampshire-based cultural heritage law firm Red Arch and the University of Pennsylvania, is training dogs to root out stolen antiquities looted from archaeological sites and museums. The dogs would be stopping them at borders before the items can be sold elsewhere on the black market.

The illegal antiquities trade nets more than $3 billion per year around the world, and trafficking hits countries dealing with ongoing conflict, like Syria and Iraq today, particularly hard. By one estimate, around half a million artifacts were stolen from museums and archaeological sites throughout Iraq between 2003 and 2005 alone. (Famously, the craft-supply chain Hobby Lobby was fined $3 million in 2017 for buying thousands of ancient artifacts looted from Iraq.) In Syria, the Islamic State has been known to loot and sell ancient artifacts including statues, jewelry, and art to fund its operations.

But the problem spans across the world. Between 2007 and 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Control discovered more than 7800 cultural artifacts in the U.S. looted from 30 different countries.

A yellow Lab sniffs a metal cage designed to train dogs on scent detection.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

K-9 Artifact Finders is the brainchild of Rick St. Hilaire, the executive director of Red Arch. His non-profit firm researches cultural heritage property law and preservation policy, including studying archaeological site looting and antiquities trafficking. Back in 2015, St. Hilaire was reading an article about a working dog trained to sniff out electronics that was able to find USB drives, SD cards, and other data storage devices. He wondered, if dogs could be trained to identify the scents of inorganic materials that make up electronics, could they be trained to sniff out ancient pottery?

To find out, St. Hilaire tells Mental Floss, he contacted the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, a research and training center for detection dogs. In December 2017, Red Arch, the Working Dog Center, and the Penn Museum (which is providing the artifacts to train the dogs) launched K-9 Artifact Finders, and in late January 2018, the five dogs selected for the project began their training, starting with learning the distinct smell of ancient pottery.

“Our theory is, it is a porous material that’s going to have a lot more odor than, say, a metal,” says Cindy Otto, the executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center and the project’s principal investigator.

As you might imagine, museum curators may not be keen on exposing fragile ancient materials to four Labrador retrievers and a German shepherd, and the Working Dog Center didn’t want to take any risks with the Penn Museum’s priceless artifacts. So instead of letting the dogs have free rein to sniff the materials themselves, the project is using cotton balls. The researchers seal the artifacts (broken shards of Syrian pottery) in airtight bags with a cotton ball for 72 hours, then ask the dogs to find the cotton balls in the lab. They’re being trained to disregard the smell of the cotton ball itself, the smell of the bag it was stored in, and ideally, the smell of modern-day pottery, eventually being able to zero in on the smell that distinguishes ancient pottery specifically.

A dog looks out over the metal "pinhweel" training mechanism.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

“The dogs are responding well,” Otto tells Mental Floss, explaining that the training program is at the stage of "exposing them to the odor and having them recognize it.”

The dogs involved in the project were chosen for their calm-but-curious demeanors and sensitive noses (one also works as a drug-detection dog when she’s not training on pottery). They had to be motivated enough to want to hunt down the cotton balls, but not aggressive or easily distracted.

Right now, the dogs train three days a week, and will continue to work on their pottery-detection skills for the first stage of the project, which the researchers expect will last for the next nine months. Depending on how the first phase of the training goes, the researchers hope to be able to then take the dogs out into the field to see if they can find the odor of ancient pottery in real-life situations, like in suitcases, rather than in a laboratory setting. Eventually, they also hope to train the dogs on other types of objects, and perhaps even pinpoint the chemical signatures that make artifacts smell distinct.

Pottery-sniffing dogs won’t be showing up at airport customs or on shipping docks soon, but one day, they could be as common as drug-sniffing canines. If dogs can detect low blood sugar or find a tiny USB drive hidden in a house, surely they can figure out if you’re smuggling a sculpture made thousands of years ago in your suitcase.

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Animals
15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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iStock

People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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