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M.L. Dehm / For HBJ 
(click to enlarge)
According to owner Liam Cole, No Cats Allowed is really Phoebe's store. The good-natured Shar Pei mix was a rescue dog and is the store's official toy and treat tester.
M.L. Dehm / For HBJ 
(click to enlarge)
No Cats Allowed owner Liam Cole uses his dog Phoebe as the store’s official toy and treat tester.

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Jim Davis, Editor
jdavis@heraldnet.com
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Everett artist lets dog be his business guide

EVERETT — If it weren't for Phoebe, there might never have been a No Cats Allowed store for dogs in Everett.

The Shar Pei mix is the official treat taster and toy tester at the store, but when she was found wandering the streets of Edmonds, she was in such bad shape that she was nearly euthanized.

"She ended up at Pasado's Safe Haven," No Cats Allowed owner Liam Cole said. "My wife was looking for a dog, saw her on the website and fell immediately in love."

The adoption took a long time but was well worth the wait, Cole said. Phoebe has been a real blessing in their lives.

That's why, when an associate suggested that Cole consider opening a dog store, with dog supplies and dog art, he didn't say no.

An artist himself, Cole has a lot of retail sales experience and knows many skilled artists and artisans. He spent 15 years selling unique handcrafted items in Seattle's Pike Place Market's crafts walkway. Currently, he and his wife, Heidi Heimarck, manage the Artspace Everett Lofts on Hoyt Avenue and are associated with 3231 Creatives.

"We were really looking to develop retail opportunities for artists," Cole said.

One associate made dog pull toys. Cole had spent a lot of time looking for high quality, locally produced treats and toys for Phoebe. A space was available on Broadway. Suddenly, all of the pieces for a business fell into place.

"I'm really not joking when I say this is Phoebe's store," Cole said. "She loves people."

Phoebe also loves the merchandise and offers her own silent reviews on the products. Her own antler chew toy testifies to that product's durability. The product is manufactured from shed antlers that are smoothed and shaped by a local artist.

"Antler is interesting as it's not bone," Cole said. "It lasts longer. They contain minerals and they're a great toothbrush."

Another Phoebe favorite is FurIzzy, a grooming toy made in Kent that looks like a cross between a mini rake and a back scratcher.

Phoebe also loves bully stick chews. Cole gets his bully sticks from local producer whose sticks are dried longer than mass-manufactured products, which makes them harder and longer lasting. It takes Phoebe about three times longer to chew through these bully sticks than others. Since they're made from tendon rather than pizzle, they have less odor.

Phoebe can't get enough of the treats from local company 3 Germans and a Scott. The treats are made in Everett by a dog owner who wanted only the best ingredients in own her dogs' food.

"I'm really looking for where the product came from and that it was manufactured with care," Cole said. "And I'm also looking for unique things that you're not going to find anywhere else."

You might be able to find dog feeding stations crafted from wine crates online. But Cole has a local artist who builds them for No Cats Allowed. The shop abounds in one-of-a-kind dog art, both decorative and practical.

No Cats Allowed is a little different from most pet stores in that Cole doesn't carry dog food, only toys, treats, sweaters, slings, collars and art. His retail space is small and he knows that people who don't make their own dog food probably buy it from a big-box store.

But Cole is committed to being a great local resource for dog owners. He knows dog walkers, sitters and trainers. He can tell you what restaurants are dog friendly. Some are listed on the website, no-cats-allowed.com. The No Cats Allowed Facebook page lists local pet events and interesting stories and facts.

Cole is committed to finding other unique items. One of the few products at No Cats Allowed that is not local is a hard-to-find collar called a martingale that he sources from an Eastern U.S. craftsman. It's a far more humane version of a choke collar.