Pussy & Pooch: A coveted patch of grass for pets in Downtown L.A.’s urban jungle

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At the counter, Janene Zakrajsek is preparing a platter of lamb with pureed pumpkin, to which she adds dehydrated chicken and baked cheese, followed by a few dollops of “secret sauce.”
For the second course, she whips up a presentation of salmon with egg, brown rice and kale.
When the dishes are ready, Zakrajsek delivers one plate at a time to her eager, in-house diner. 
It could be the scene in any downtown restaurant — except this one is just a bit more eye-catching because Zakrajsek’s customer is eating his meal on the ground, four paws planted on terra firma.
The hungry guest is her dog Jaxxson, a 3-year-old Jack Russell, who is lucky enough to belong to the co-founders of the modern pet boutique Pussy & Pooch.

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Zakrajsek and and her husband, Rob Gaudio, are nearing completion on an expansion project to increase the shop’s pet-food selection and create a highly visible, central-market area, where shoppers will be able to purchase a variety of premium organic, raw, dehydrated and traditional pet-food diets, as well as seek nutritional guidance. It’s the latest effort to continue growing the successful, specialized food-and-supplies side of the Pussy & Pooch business.
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Already, the store’s Pawbar — created by the design-minded Zakrajsek to evoke a low-to-the-ground sushi or raw bar — has become a centerpiece of the space. “When we have a special event, the Pawbar becomes the focus, just like when you have a house party and the kitchen is the focus,” she says.
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The Pawbar is the Pussy & Pooch in-store cafe. On the menu are raw-meat meals, like nuggets or burgers, drizzled with gourmet sauces and assorted toppings; hearty stews and soups for dogs; and treats like Yoghund frozen yogurt, Bowser Dog Beer and bakery items. The Pawbar also serves up fresh-prepared meals from the Pussy & Pooch private food label, including organic chicken and bison pet cuisine.
The Pawbar is an easy way for owners and pets to try out a raw-food diet, Zakrajsek says. The walk-up food counter sees many regulars and also dogs — and even cats — celebrating a special occasion, like a birthday.
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Zakrajsek notes that Pussy & Pooch caters to dogs of all sizes, and the founders also set out to ensure cats and their owners get a fair share of representation in the boutique. “Who wants to go to a dog boutique and have to go to a tiny cat section?” says Zakrajsek, who has three cats of her own.
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For Pussy & Pooch, drawing in modern pet owners living in the city has meant creating an interactive setting where they — and their pets — can gather and socialize. The in-store PETaPOTTY, for example, is a coveted spot of grass in the urban jungle, where dogs can stop to relieve themselves. Complete with a decorative hydrant, the PETaPOTTY grass is frequently refreshed. And the boutique also offers a full- and self-serve Bathhouse area for working up a lather.
As downtown L.A. residents, Zakrajsek and her husband wanted their pet boutique to be an amenity specifically for city dwellers and their animal friends. “We wanted to be part of this neighborhood,” she says.

(Photos by Sarah Reingewirtz and courtesy Pussy & Pooch)

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