In a cozy Uptown home, surrounded by souvenirs from his owner's travels, Dozer lounges contentedly. The French bulldog's likeness, complete with his signature snaggletooth, adorns every DamnDog bag (www.damndogHQ.com).
"We'll never forget who the real boss is of this whole line," says Kicker Kalozdi, creator of the DamnDog brand. "Dozer's patch is on every single bag."
Kalozdi was born into the bag business. DamnDog is a subsidiary of Kalencom, which Kalozdi's parents founded in 1971. It started with a line of diaper bags, but now includes several lines of fashion and lifestyle bags.
Until Kalozdi launched DamnDog, the majority of the company's offerings featured feminine prints and bright colors geared toward women. "We saw there was an open niche in the market to be filled by some pretty cool bags," Kalozdi says. "So I got free reign to do my own thing."
Kalozdi grew up with a French bulldog. After he got married, he decided to get a dog, and he knew he wanted that breed. The search ended with Dozer. When the marriage ended in divorce, Kalozdi felt shaken and alone for the first time in his life. "I had one thing left in my life that was constant, which was Dozer," he says. Since then, Dozer has been Kalozdi's sidekick, following him everywhere.
Inspired by Dozer's loyalty, Kalozdi wanted to create a line of high-quality bags that not only looked good but would stand the test of time. "I need a bag that's going to be just as faithful as my dog," he says. The leather and canvas is intended to age with its owner and be a testament to the places it's been. "DamnDog is basically just like my Dozer," Kalozdi says. "It's a companion that's going to follow you through every adventure."
DamnDog is a hands-on effort — everything from design to marketing and distribution is handled by Kalozdi and a couple of other people. Dozer inspires Kalozdi to design and create just by accompanying him on walks. "I live a very intense, hectic life," Kalozdi says. "I guess that's my way of meditation — just walk Dozer and think."
DamnDog bags can be found at Massey's Professional Outfitters' Mid-City location (509 N, Carrollton Ave., 504-648-0292; www.masseysoutfitters.com), and at Aidan Gill For Men Uptown (2026 Magazine St., 504-587-9090; www.aidangillformen.com). "[The bags are] for those independent shops that are going to help keep the local community thriving and surviving," Kalozdi says.
DamnDog donates a percentage of profits to a different local charity each year. This year's recipient is the Villalobos Rescue Center, which has been featured on the Animal Planet series Pit Bulls & Parolees.
Dozer prefers to spend his days in the comfort of his own home rather than going into the office with Kalozdi. "I wish I could bring him to the office, but he really likes our house," Kalozdi says. Dozer does enjoy hamming it up for photo shoots of the various bag lines. "When he sees the camera out there and a director and, you know, hot girls, yeah, he's all over that," Kalozdi says.
As a French bulldog, Dozer comes with his share of health concerns. "I will admit, Dozer is the most high-maintenance dog in the world," Kalozdi says, describing Dozer's allergies and medications. "I don't really get to go to the doctor anymore because I put all my money into taking him to the vet." But Kalozdi doesn't mind too much. "I figure that's a small price to pay for the joy he gives to me in my life."