You know those people who dress their dogs in sweaters and other miniature clothing, which rankles so many of us?

Meet Pat Jackson, their enabler.

Jackson's the owner of Uncle Rah Ree's Doggone Ties, makers of a full line of dog clothing. She operates it from her east side home with business partner Candy Cook, 55, when Jackson's not at her day job as a 31-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department.

Jackson, 60, good-naturedly says she understands those who object to putting dogs in wardrobe — she used to be one of them. "I'm from the old school — a dog is a dog, OK?" she says. Yet she changed her mind when people would often confuse the gender identity of her poodle Cedric. "I used to walk her down the street and people would say 'Isn't she beautiful?' And I would cringe. 'This is not a she,' I'd say."

To make her dog's masculinity obvious, she bought him a bow tie to wear, which received lots of positive attention, and an idea was born. "I said, 'I can make this,' and that's how we got started." They've been at it for a few years. Sales have been good.

The business was named after and is a tribute to her son Rodney, and how Jackson's foster children mispronounced his name. He was killed a few years back. "He and another guy were sitting in a car together," she says. "This guy got shot five times and my son got shot twice." She talks about it in the flat tone of a cop who has long warned others not to get into bad situations. "When you do stuff, when you're out there, whatever happens, happens," she says blankly. "We never found out who did it, but you know, I have to go on."

Jackson and Cook, whose families have known each other for years, make doggie ties, dresses, shirts, collars, coats, even robes. Patterns range from plain to plaid, made in a full spectrum of colors, patterns and materials. Items cost between $12 and $45, and are custom-fitted. There's even something called a "poochanelli."

"It's a panty for the girls when they're in heat," she says. "Their legs go in there and the tail goes in there and you put a pad on it." Even she has to chuckle. "Isn't that weird?" she jokes. Most of the attire, though, simply keeps the dogs warm and fashionable.

Jackson and Cook sell the clothes at a brisk pace at dog shows around the country, including top international shows like the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. In fact, last year's winner was shown on TV around the world wearing one of Jackson's handmade creations. "This is the top dog in the world, and he's got on our bow ties," she says proudly.

Detroitblogger John scours the city for hidden gems. Send comments to [email protected]
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