When I visit The Occasional Wife (4306 Magazine St., 302-9893; www. theoccasionalwife.com) to meet Jack, one of the store's resident shop dogs, he is hiding through most of my visit. But I learn not to mistake Jack's shyness for humility.
"He knows he's cute. He's very aware of that," says M'Adele Irvin, owner of RSVP Stationers (www.rsvpstationers.com), which shares the Magazine Street storefront with The Occasional Wife. "Jack is Jack. He's just comfortable with himself, which is something a lot of people aren't."
The squat, fluffy white Scottish terrier belongs to Irvin's daughter Read, who found Jack chained to a flagpole in Fairhope, Ala. She took him back to New Orleans, where for five years he's enjoyed a happier life as top shop dog at The Occasional Wife and, before that, at RSVP's former space in Old Metairie, where his arresting cuteness was a draw for window-shoppers.
"The cutest thing Jack ever did was in the other store — Jack loves to be on something, whether it's a piece of paper or towel or anything that's on the floor, he likes to just sit on it," Irvin says. "He curled up under the Christmas tree that was in the window, and people were coming in and asking, 'Is that dog real?'"
At The Occasional Wife, where Jack enjoys a bigger space replete with places to hide and things to curl up on, he helps attract Magazine Street passersby.
"He sits at the front door and people come in just to see the dog, and then they say 'Oh, what else is this? What is an Occasional Wife?'" Irvin says.
Jack shares his shop dog duties with Lucy, Irvin's other dog, in whom the tranquil, slow-moving Jack has a rambunctious foil.
"Jack and Lucy love to wrestle, and they are the best playmates," Irvin says.
Lucy was also part of the reason RSVP came to share a space with The Occasional Wife: Holly Valenti, owner of Central Bark Doggy Day Care, connected the two business owners.
"We had this huge space and we love it, but we don't need it, because our main business comes from our services — we go out and organize and declutter, throw events and run errands," says Occasional Wife project manager Mallory Messina. "It's a perfect match, because we do plan events. We plan birthday parties, weddings, everything — and she's got the invitations."
It also has been perfect for Jack, who spends leisurely days in the high-ceilinged, open space. He can be a slow-moving animal ("He's just such an old man sometimes," Irvin says), but he is known to hustle when his favorite treat is involved.
"He moves fast when we get fried rice from Vicky's Supermarket across the street," Messina says.
"He does like food. That's the key to Jack's heart," Irvin concurs. "He prefers any food that you take a bite of first. He likes to have a taster, like a king's taster — he doesn't want to eat anything that might have pills in it or anything else. If you'll eat it, he'll eat it."
Aside from Jack's bad habit of staring people down while they eat, Irvin says he is the ideal shop dog. "He comes, he lies down, he doesn't bark unless he has Lucy here to bark with ... he has a great temperament."
"Everyone who works here is dog people," Messina says. "So it's really awesome to have Jack here. We just fell in love with him. We love when Lucy's here, too — but Lucy will walk out the front door," Irvin interjects. "But Jack you don't have to watch. He just takes care of himself. As long as there are people around, Jack is very, very happy."
"He is the best dog on earth," Messina says.
My Favorite Things...
Playing with Lucy
Going to the dog park
Being admired for my cuteness