Haute Dogs Boutique
The name Haute Dogs Boutique and Barkery might conjure up images of a gourmet sausage in a sesame bun, topped with mustard, onions and relish—if it does, pump your brakes before your mouth gets too watery, as this Vallejo store is more likely to be your dog’s favorite spot for a meal, not yours. It’s stocked with high-quality dog foods, but what sets it apart from most pet stores? For one thing, you can buy your pet a fully decorated birthday cake here.
“They’re really popular,” Haute Dogs’ Owner Lori Sellner said. “One is made out of peanut butter, one is made out of bacon, and one is made out of pumpkin. There’s no sugar, no salt, and the dogs love it.”
Anyone who doubts whether a pet has the power to change a person’s life for the better ought to have a look at Lori’s story. She was once convinced that dogs weren’t really her thing. Now she proudly displays a tattoo of her late pooch, Mugsy, on the inside of her forearm as she runs a store that centers on dogs, dogs, and more dogs.
Lori and Mugsy met under unusual circumstances. She inherited the dog from her mother, though she’d never even laid eyes on Mugsy before. And as a self-described “cat person,” she had no idea even where to start. Mugsy turned out to be a six-pound, half-chihuahua, half-german shepherd, who the cats weren’t intimidated by.
“I did feel an enormous responsibility, because he was everything to my mother,” Lori said. But soon, Lori and Mugsy developed an unbreakable bond.
“Apparently my mother and I had the same voice, and he stuck with me from that first day,” Lori said. “Mugsy my dog was the one that changed it all … he was an amazing dog, just amazing.”
As a first-time dog owner with nowhere else to turn, Lori went to Haute Dogs which, back then, was under different ownership and located in American Canyon.
“I had seen this store in American Canyon and I thought, maybe I should stop there and they’ll help me figure out what to do with this dog,” Lori said with a laugh. She got along well with previous owner, Kim Pelham, and found that Haute Dogs had high-quality food that she wasn’t able to find elsewhere. Then, last year, she got a shock: Kim told her that she was closing the store.
“I panicked,” Lori recalled. “Where was I going to buy my really good dog food?”
So she did what she could to keep the business alive, first working there as an employee and then taking over the business, which by then had moved to downtown Vallejo. She’s been at the helm since January.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people in the neighborhood so much,” Lori said of her first eight months. “Just seeing all the different changes down town, it’s been really fun. I especially love the residents.”
Lori spends several hours a week doing research on healthy dog foods to ensure she’s getting high-quality meals, and that she knows where the food is coming from. For most of her products, she holds a high standard: whether or not she would be willing to eat it.
“Most of the things I carry are human grade,” Lori said. “I figure if we can’t consume it safely, how on earth could our pets consume it?”
“All of the products I carry come from companies that are very open about where they get their food from,” Lori added. “If they don’t disclose that to me, I can’t sell it.”
Haute Dogs also offers nail trimming services, harnesses, decorated treats, dog toys, and even a section for cat owners. There is also a small section for owners of backyard chickens, a homesteading practice that pet owners say is growing throughout the Bay Area. Lori plans to expand the store’s grooming services in the near future, and says a store name change might be in the works as well.
“I’m going to set up a self-service dog wash very soon,” Lori said. “I get a lot of people asking for grooming and dog wash.”
Haute Dogs also helps the humane society with kitten adoptions, and it’s not uncommon to walk by their front windows and see some cats. They adopted out more than a dozen cats during kitten season, and Lori said she hopes to hold dog adoption events as well.
Haute Dogs Boutique and Barkery is located at 507 Georgia Street in downtown Vallejo. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday. It’s closed on Mondays. For additional information, call (707) 641-3085 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. For regular updates on events, deals, and cute pictures of animals, follow their Facebook page: facebook.com/HauteDogsBoutiqueBarkery.
Nate Gartrell grew up in Benicia, studied journalism in college, and has written for a handful of media outlets since age 15. He aspires to visit all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and to hit the trifecta at the horse track.