Born With a Golden Leash

MT
What can you give a person who has everything? Perhaps a dog that has everything.

At least that's the idea behind dog salons and boutiques like Charly's Grooming Salon, conveniently located just a couple of blocks away from boutique heaven Tverskaya Ulitsa. In the waiting room of the salon, glossy magazines fan across a small table, their covers featuring not Russian movie stars, but Yorkshire terriers against backdrops of fancy dog homes. An array of clothing, from T-shirts to fur-accented suits, hangs on tiny racks. Santa Claus outfits are offered at a heavy discount -- it is April, after all.

Charly's salon was opened by Edita Dallakian, who decided that clients spending up to 2,000 euros on the perfect Yorkshire terrier would want to groom their pets in the familiar surroundings of luxury. "Accessorizing and dressing small dogs became popular because of Paris Hilton; she was the first public figure to flaunt her pet," Dallakian says, as she puts together an order to be sent to a client by courier: a dress and two pieces of underwear.

"People are ready to do anything for their dogs -- they buy a doghouse for every room or designer clothing. Louis Vuitton and Juicy Couture have lines of dog clothing," she says, showing me crystal-studded black doggy lingerie priced at 1,500 rubles.

"Doesn't it make you want to be a dog?" says Vera, the courier, packing up the order.

Yorkshire terriers are by far the most popular miniature dog breed. They are considered good-natured in character, have hypoallergenic hair, and can be potty-trained like cats, which takes care of the arduous chore of dog-walking. In the United States, they are the second most popular dog after the Labrador retriever, according to registration data on the American Kennel Club web site. Moscow has quickly followed the trend. Locally, the breed even has an unofficial beauty contest, the "York Show," where thousands of Yorkie owners rub elbows, show off their pets, and consider new lines in dog fashion. It took place this March near the ritzy Moscow neighborhood of Ostozhenka.


Vladimir Filonov / MT
Outfits for dogs range from glitzy to classy. Here, salon owner Leda's dog Bugi Vugi shows off a fur-accented winter suit.


At Charly's, the grooming salon is in the back of the shop. Groomer Svetlana Nesolenaya is trimming bangs on a dog that is shaking so violently that her teeth make loud clacking noises. "This breed often takes on their owner's personality. Some clients bring along sedative drops to calm their pets down, but if a dog gets really hysterical, I refuse to work with it," Nesolenaya says. In fact, it's better if the pet is left alone with the groomer.

Another salon in Moscow has gone a step further and installed a one-way mirror window between the waiting room and the grooming room, so that nervous clients can watch their pet without being seen. The grooming process can take up to three hours. The salon, Bugi Vugi, is named after owner Leda's dog. Leda also designs and sells dog clothing. "At first, people preferred flash and sequins for their dogs, now practical outfits are more popular," she said. Bugi is wearing a black two-piece set with pink accents, a canine echo of the famous Chanel suit.

Experts advise that when trying on dog clothing, it is important for the dog to start walking. An inability to walk is a good indication that the clothing is uncomfortable. Still, a dog's outfit inevitably reflects its owner's taste, rather than its own.

Besides clothing, dog salons sell shoes, carrying bags and hair products. Those are often necessary, since Yorkshire terriers have no undercoat, and their hair resembles human hair, said Leda. As for additional dog services, the line has to be drawn. "I know that in America people marry their dogs, dressing them up as bride and groom, but I think that's too much," she said.

Svetlana Nesolenaya also thinks that people can go too far with making pets beautiful. "I would never ever give a dog a tattoo or a piercing. A dog will just not understand what the pain means," she said. "I've heard of perverts who even take their Chinese crested hairless dogs to a tanning salon to make them pink," she added in a whisper, "That's just vicious."

Contacts

Charly's Grooming Salon,

13 4th Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ul., M. Mayakovskaya,978-3005,
www.groomingcharly.ru

Bugi Vugi
69 Oktyabrskaya Ul., M. Savyolovskaya, 920-2081,
www.bugivugi.ru