By Isaiah Negron
New York City’s premier dog groomer Edward Alava has redefined what it means to have your dog cared for and pampered, whether you’re a proud “parent” or a celebrity like Blake Lively who brings her beloved Maltipoo Penny. From the age of 16 in his native San Francisco, Alava would drive to San Diego and back picking up rescue dogs to find good homes for them. “I was always dog crazy,” he laughs. In 2009, his passion became his livelihood when he opened up The DOG Store on New York’s Upper East Side. “I had no choice,” Alava says. “I always knew this is what I wanted to do.”
The DOG Store, a colorful canine-geared boutique at 170 East 61st Street, is everything but your normal on-the-corner pet shop. Alava offers top of the line grooming, everything from a bath and blow dry to braids and painted nails. Canine clients can also be pampered with hot oil and conditioning treatments for a lustrous coat or stretch out and get massaged with some “doggy yoga.” “Every dog is different, just like humans are, and all need different things,” Alava explains. “It feels just as good to them as it would to us.” Alava also offers his personally designed line of dog accessories at The DOG Store such as silk beds, alligator leashes and cashmere sweaters, which he proudly sports on his own canine friends, two miniature Schnauzers and a Poodle. “I love Poodles for their brain,” he says. “And Schnauzers may be small and stocky but they carry themselves like German Shepherds.”
Alava’s boutique attracts a wide variety of clientele, from Park Avenue socialites to A-list celebrities and those “parents” who just want the very best for their “babies.” Elton John’s Cocker Spaniels are just a few of the prized canines that have pampered by Alava. Beyoncé’s Shih Zhu Munchie is also a regular. “She always likes to do something fun,” Alava says. “I’ve done braids for Munchie and the last time she was in we gave her a Mohawk.” Another esteemed customer of The DOG Store is the Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Milan. “He usually stops by when he visits New York. It’s still a big deal to me,” he confesses.
Last year, Alava teamed up with NYC and Hamptons veterinarian Dr. Cindy Bressler to create the Hamptons Canine Concierge, a dog pampering service available “anytime for any service.” (hamptonscanineconcierge.com) “This includes 24/7 house calls, massage therapy, “furcials”, “pawdicures”, swimming lessons, play dates, personal stylists, drivers and more. We want our client’s dogs to look as good as their owners. If not better!” he laughs. Alava is also on the board for the Motel Animal Shelter as well as the NYC-based pet organization Bideawee on East 38th Street. Alava’s next goal is to open up a second DOG Store in the Hamptons this year. “I’m just so grateful I get to do what I love and be around people who love dogs just as much as I do.” •