Pets & Their People features ‘how we met’ vignettes of dogs and their humans, uncovering the particularities of this unique relationship, from touching adoption tales to outlandish quirks.
Susan is the founder and designer for her namesake brand, Susan Alexandra, a New York-based accessories line. Susan and Pigeon, the brand’s CEO and adopted Chug (chihuahua-pug mix), sat down with Wild One at their design studio in Chinatown to chat foster fails, unique pup names and how dog walks can function as New York Fashion Week therapy.
Wild One: Tell us about Pigeon! How did you two meet?
Susan Alexandra: Pigeon came into my life three and a half years ago. He’s a rescue from a kill shelter in Los Angeles. He is a Chihuahua-Pug mix, aka a Chug. I’m really proud of that title. Pidge leans more toward Chi-Chi in disposition, but his coloring and underbite are definitively Pug.
Pidge was initially my foster for a week. He was already four years old when I got him. He was very small and emaciated, but also perfectly quiet and potty trained. He was quite regal and refined, too. I slowly realized that he would have to become a permanent life partner and he’s been with me ever since. He shares endless love, and I do believe he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
WO: How did you choose the name Pigeon?
SA: His name actually has a fun back story, and a dual meaning. The main story stems from the day I rescued him. I picked him up after he deboarded the plane from Los Angeles, at which point he was nameless. I dropped by the Wild Bird Fund for my friend Mur's art show. They’re a bird rescue organization on the Upper West Side. The owner exclaimed “that’s the biggest pigeon I’ve ever seen” and at that moment I realized his name was destined to be Pigeon. It stuck.
The other significance is that he loves to chase pigeons. He’s very much a city boy in that way.
WO: How do you and Pigeon spend time together?
SA: Pigeon comes to work with me everyday. He is the acting CEO at Susan Alexandra and a valued member of our brand. *laughs*
We love visiting Washington Square Park for long walks. Summer is probably our favorite season because of those walks. Pigeon also has a lot of special spots around NYC where he likes to mark his territory. He deeply enjoys peeing on garbage bags, being the city kid he is. It’s a great source of enjoyment for him and I like seeing him enjoy himself, so it works for both of us.
WO: What newness has Pigeon brought with him? How has life changed since adding him to the family?
SA: The dog park community and culture was so new to me! Of course I never had an excuse to go hang there before adopting Pigeon. Now I find the dog park experience to be extremely therapeutic - a special bubble of relaxation and pause for me.
Pigeon is truly a source of constant and never ending love. I think that’s the most special thing about having a dog; they’re these sources of endless acceptance, happiness, and openness. They're receptacles to pour love into. In my opinion, the reason for owning a dog is to experience the 15 seconds after you’ve walked in the door. Just pure, unadulterated joy.
WO: New York Fashion Week is about to start, the busiest time of year for a fashion brand. How do you balance that with being a dog parent?
SA: Work is super busy and stressful right now, and it does take extra effort to make sure I’m giving Pigeon the life he deserves. I push myself to take him for long walks, and think of it as forced relaxation. When I’m walking him, I have to be present and step out of my work day. Even when it feels like there’s no time, carving out a moment to take him to the dog park for a breather is a welcome respite.
WO: Are there any Susan Alexandra bags inspired by Pigeon?
SA: Pidge was born to be a muse and a model! There will definitely be a dedicated Pigeon bag and designs inspired by Pigeon down the line.
WO: You bring Pigeon to work everyday. Any learnings or best practices for getting a dog acclimated to an office environment?
SA: The stereotype that dogs are the enemy to delivery service personnel applies to Pidg. He’s the office guardian and hates everyone from postmen to Postmates. To distract him from attacking (not really, he would never), I ply him with his favorite treat, Chicken Tenders (Editor’s note: Pigeon is a big fan). A nice comfy bed is also a must so he can sleep his required 14 hours.
WO: Did Pigeon acclimate to your apartment and studio easily?
SA: Yep, almost instantly! Everything pretty much became his. It’s now his couch, not my couch. His rug, not my rug. He’s very dominant!
WO: Does Pigeon have any special talents?
SA: I think Pigeon is kind of psychic and can read energies. He can instantly tell if someone is a good or bad person, and I trust his instincts. If he responds well to someone I trust them more. He’s wise beyond his years and has a very empathetic nature.