I gave collars a lot of thought during our recent vacation in Costa Rica. There were dogs everywhere -- running loose in the streets (or on the sidewalks), sleeping outside in shady spots, or hanging out in most bars and restaurants. The only thing that distinguished these domesticated dogs from their feral cousins: collars. Some wore traditional collars, others just wore bandanas or swatches of fabric, but they all wore some type of collar. No tags, no leashes, just collars. Collars alone won't prevent the pup from getting lost or help him get home in the event he's found, but they're just a pretty effective way to signal that this dog is no stray, he's got a human.
This is a dog who came to visit our villa at Playa Avellanas. His human was nowhere in sight, but we knew there was a human somewhere because -- yep -- collar. He refused to cross the threshold into the villa. (We later learned that while dogs in Costa Rica are valued for their protection of people and property, they generally are not thought of as members of the family and are often not even allowed in the house.)
I always keep a collar on my cat Lola. She even has a bald ring around her neck from where her collar rubs. It serves as a vehicle for her tags in case she gets lost, plus it's cute. She currently sports a Red Dingo Classic Cat Collar ($4.50) in dark blue, pictured above. It looks almost purple against her orange fur. That little plastic fish clasp kills me.
A quick tip: When choosing a cat collar, you may be tempted to look at the selection for small dogs, but a breakaway collar is very important -- cats get into tight spots and the breakaway collars prevent Mr. Cuddles from getting snagged somewhere or, much worse, asphyxiated.
Lola used to wear a Coastal Pet Products Safe Cat Adjustable Breakaway Collar ($6) in light green, which you can see if you click on her name in the above paragraph. I love that these collars say "Safe Cat" -- it brings to mind images of animals in flotation vests or wearing crossing guard uniforms. The light green Safe Cat collar was retired because after several years part of the clasp broke. Kitty wore one in orange, which is in her urn with her ashes (sentimental much, AEB?)
My pups Betelgeuse and Lulu usually do not wear traditional collars. They used to wear them all the time, but they have such full Pomeranian-esc manes that the tight collars end up matting their fur. These days they wear bandanas instead, and their tags are on their harnesses when we go out.
In case you had a question, yes, in that last photo, Betelgeuse is wearing a bandana featuring a sexy marijuana leaf in a bikini (an Andrew Jeffrey Wright creation that came into my possession in Baltimore). I came home from work the other night to discover that Kyler had accessorized the dogs. If she gets lost wearing this bandana, people will know she is domesticated and that has a human (or two), but I assume they might re-think giving her back to us.