ST. PETERSBURG — Every morning before work, Chanel gets dressed in the latest fashion from Paris or Milan. Maybe a green and pink dress set off with a sharp-looking belt and hair bow.
Then her owner lifts her into the car for a day of patrolling the Pawsitively Posh Pooch and Classy Cats Too boutique and spa from 8 inches off the ground.
Such is life for the inspiration and in-house model of the new high-end dog and cat emporium, which carries the trendiest in dog carriers, outfits, organic foods and spa treatments.
"My vision was to make it almost like a sidewalk in Paris," said Susan Nice, who owns the two-week-old store on Fourth Street N.
Entering the store, one is first drawn to the walls, adorned with painted murals depicting the faces of Nice's pets atop human bodies, sipping wine. Several chandeliers hang from the ceiling.
The merchandise — ranging from Louis Vuitton dog carriers to doggie bridesmaid dresses — has only been in place for about two weeks, and the customer base in those departments is beginning to grow.
But the true draw of the store is the spa, where dogs and cats can be pampered with a dip in the Jacuzzi tub, a blueberry facial or a Dead Sea mineral scrub.
Lynne Nichols, who has more than 400 hours of training at the Academy of Animal Arts in Largo, grooms about a half-dozen pets per day, by appointment only.
She said grooming requests have caused the phones to ring off the hook.
"I've been to a lot of groomers, but I've been waiting for someone like her," said Nanette Shook as she picked up her Maltese Sasha. "She treats your animals with a lot of respect."
The store becomes the second high-end pet boutique in St. Petersburg, joining One Lucky Dog on Fourth Street N. One Lucky Dog specializes in collars and costumes and also has a spa.
But Pawsitively Posh Pooch brands itself more as a hangout for dog lovers, offering free Wi-Fi and a selection of coffee and wine.
Each Thursday at 5 p.m. is Yappy Hour, which drew about a dozen dogs last week in attire ranging from motorcycle jackets to Betty Boop costumes.
Nice also owns Lasting Impressions, a neighboring home furnishings store. She used to lease the adjoining space to a cabinet company.
When the lease was up about six months ago, Nice decided to open up the boutique in honor of her three dogs, five cats and three birds.
But the true inspiration comes from Chanel, whom Nice bought about five months ago after falling in love with a dog dress.
"The lady who sold me the dress asked what kind of dog I had," Nice said. "I said whatever will fit into this."
Andrew Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8150.