Shop gives dogs a bad name, a few say

LYNNWOOD – Toni Rankin is used to seeing risque slogans plastered across buildings from her days living in Las Vegas.

However, the Lynnwood woman did a double-take when she saw such a sign above a new pet shop in the 20100 block of 44th Avenue W.

In classy and sassy letters, the sign reads: “The High Maintenance Bitch.”

Dan Bates / The Herald

Jean Powell, owner of the High Maintenance Bitch dog and cat specialty store in Lynnwood, holds her dog, Reggie, who has his own business card identifying him as co-owner.

“I looked over, and there it was,” Rankin said. “I thought to myself, ‘Did I really see that?’”

A look inside the store explains its name.

Fluffy, pooch-sized feather boas adorn a wall alongside an arrangement of doggy perfumes, paw polish and body glitter. The store sells custom, canine couches at $1,400 a pop, including one shaped as a pink, high-heel shoe. There is dog clothing – one tiny shirt says “Muterosexual” – and even a set of $45,000 magnetic diamond earrings.

The name of the business isn’t the only play on words that might raise some eyebrows.

For example, the shop sells shopping-cart-sized pillows for people who take their dogs shopping with them. The pillow product line is called She Sleeps Around. Escort Service is the name of the leash product line.

The collars? Collar for a Good Time.

Siblings Lori and Ryan Pacchiano, who started the business four years ago in their grandmother’s garage near Seattle, say their slogans aren’t meant to offend anyone. They’re trying to catch the eyes of independent, fun-loving women who think of their four-legged friends as their children, they said.

While Jean Powell, owner of the High Maintenance Bitch dog and cat specialty store in Lynnwood (right) helps a customer, her own dog, Reggie, a Maltese-poodle cross, stretches out on his own $1,400 couch.

“We take these things that are negative about women and we make them about the dogs,” Lori Pacchiano said.

They’ve caught the attention of the nation’s top celebrities. One of their most famous clients is Tinkerbell, Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua. They’ve also sold items to Jessica Simpson, Sharon Osbourne and John Travolta, as well as many others. Their products are sold worldwide.

The Lynnwood shop, owned by Jean Powell who has a licensing agreement with the Pacchianos to use the name, has also caught attention in town.

Lynnwood planning manager Ron Hough, who paused in his conversation before calling the business “The High Maintenance Puppy” on first reference, said his office has received six phone calls from people complaining about its name.

To get any complaints about a business name is unusual, he said. The last time it probably happened is when Hooters came to town.

“There are so many Hooters around nowadays that I think people just kind of accept it,” Hough said.

There’s nothing the city can do about the pet boutique’s name because it’s not being used as profanity. Even if it were, there still might not be anything the city could do to change it, Hough said.

“Even though it may be irritating personally to some people, bitch is a name of a female dog, and this is a business that deals with that sort of thing,” he said.

Lynnwood resident Kari Nord, 33, doesn’t see anything wrong with the sign. She and her Shih Tzu, Echo, have become regular customers.

“I think it’s fun, it definitely fits the bill,” Nord said. “This is the store for somebody who doesn’t mind being high maintenance, or having a high-maintenance dog, and just wants to have fun with it.”

Lori Pacchiano said her brother jokingly stumbled upon the name of the business after she picked him up from a friend’s house one night. She had been considering the names “High Maintenance Dog” and “High Maintenance Puppy,” but neither had the same ring, she said.

They expected some objections, but they went with the name anyway. It’s edgy, hip and embraces women’s sexuality, Pacchiano said.

It also empowers women by taking back a term many perceive as derogatory, she said.

“I’m looking forward to the day the word bitch is defined only as a spoiled dog,” Lori Pacchiano said.

Still, Rankin is unconvinced.

“Anybody knows that when you call someone a high-maintenance bitch, you’re not talking about a dog,” she said.

Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or

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