In Miss Smarty Pants' (5523 Magazine St., 504-891-6141; www.facebook.com/misssmartypantsNOLA) bright Magazine Street storefront, a spunky Silky terrier sunbathes and watches passersby. "A lot of people go, 'Oh my gosh, she's real!'" owner Laura Hand says of her pooch, Lucky Girl. "[They think she's] a little stuffed animal, and then she moves."
Hand got Lucky Girl six years ago after falling in love with a Yorkshire terrier her friend found on the street. Hand wanted to adopt the stray, but the friend decided to keep the dog for himself. "So I was like, 'Fine I'll just get my own then,'" Hand says.
While researching Yorkshire terriers, she came across Silky terriers, which are said to be better with young children, as well as less skittish and yappy. She acquired Lucky Girl from a family in Slidell.
Hand's son, who was 6 years old at the time, gave Lucky Girl her name. "It wasn't the name I had been thinking of giving her," Hand says, "but how do you deny a sweet child naming his first puppy?"
Hand initially was reluctant to bring Lucky Girl to the shop, because the dog barks at guests in her home. But Lucky Girl surprised Hand by behaving on the job. "She did beautifully," Hand says. "She somehow knew she had to put her manners on here at the shop."
Lucky Girl has worked at Miss Smarty Pants for about a year and loves attention from customers. "She thinks they all come to see her," Hand says. "All you have to do is talk to her and her little tail wags." Lucky Girl enjoys playing with her favorite toy, a leopard-print bone, and getting belly rubs. Lucky Girl also keeps men company in the "boyfriend chair," a leather club chair where men relax while their female companions shop.
Miss Smarty Pants has been open for nine years. Originally a housewares store called Importicos, it was one of three locations owned by Hand's sister. After teaching special education for six years, Hand was looking for a career change, so she purchased this location from her sister. It became Miss Smarty Pants in 2005.
Occasionally, the boutique gets celebrity guests. Most recently, stars of the series American Horror Story: Coven, which has been filming in the area, visited the shop. "Of course, we try to pretend like we don't know who they are and respect their privacy," Hand says. "But secretly we're excited that they stopped in."
The shop specializes in fashion accessories for women such as jewelry, scarves and handbags, but also offers home items like candles, glasses and cocktail napkins, among other things. "It's a great place to get gifts for a girlfriend, your mom, a little pick-me-up for yourself," Hand says. "And it's all very reasonably priced."
After observing her pup's charmed life and happy times spent in the boutique, Hand has come to believe Lucky Girl is an appropriate name after all. "She is indeed a lucky dog, who's been dealt a lucky hand," she says. "But really, I'm the lucky one to have her. She is just a little love!"
My Favorite Things ...
• My leopard-print bone
• Sunning in the window
• Belly rubs
• My lucky New Orleans Saints T-shirt