Paula Smail is the talented textile designer and creative mind behind Henry Road, a Los Angeles-based design studio and store. A self-taught designer and interior stylist, she has been a waitress, an au pair, and a publicist. She has sailed the high seas of the Caribbean as crew on a yacht and earned her business credentials as a corporate executive. Paula?s style is a happily eclectic mix of color, eras, and ethnicities fueled by a life spent rearranging furniture, scouring flea markets all over the world, and reading piles of design magazines. Here’s the scoop on her loyal canine companion and studio mate, Leo!
Name? Leo (Leonardo)
Nicknames? I have a whole heap of them depending on my mood and his behavior including King of the Jungle, Hunk of Junk, Lover-boy, Babe, and Little Shit.
Breed? “Los Angeles brown dog” – best guess is pit and lab
What?s ?The Scoop?? About a year after I moved to LA, I decided to stop talking about getting a dog and waiting for the right time and just get one. Late one night I found the nearest rescue place (Pacific Coast Dog Rescue), picked the best looking dog on the site and sent an email. I thought I was just making contact so didn’t give the choice of dog much thought. I got an email back saying “Leo would love to meet you” and that was it. He was three years old and had a few issues including a couple of failed adoptions but he was mine, warts and all. I had to do a lot of work with him which turned out to be good for both of us. No question, any work and training you put into a dog is paid back in spades. I have had Leo for nine years now. He is my sidekick and comes to work with me every day. Lots of the neighbors pop into the shop just to visit him, which he loves as he cannot get enough affection and attention.
Favorite Toy? He isn’t a big toy guy but he does like to whip around anything fluffy when he first gets home and maybe do some nibbling and pouncing to make it squeak. He will eventually destroy it but it takes months.
Favorite Food? Leo loves treats which I indulge especially in the shop as we have a big jar of them for him and all the doggy visitors we get. He will definitely never turn down things like chicken and cheese which he gets with his kibble (Natural Balance) if I happen to be eating them myself.
Favorite place to sleep? He sleeps with the tip of his tongue sticking out and seems to have no problem sleeping anywhere. At night he sleeps on my bed.
Pet Peeves? Recently the crotchety old man in him has emerged: he has taken a dislike to the mail and UPS men (even though he has known them for years) and he becomes anxious and distressed by the pop of a champagne cork and a crowd of people partying.
Best Trick? I haven’t taught him any tricks but he does roll on his back in order to get his tummy petted. He will use his paws to push and pull any available human hand to just the right spot.
Gear? He wears the same collar he came with nine years ago (I am sentimental about it), and I love the leather leash I bought from Maxwell Dog, the fabulous dog store around the corner from my shop in Studio City.
If your dog were another animal what animal would that be? Probably a lioness as he looks a bit like one, likes to think he is in charge, and tends to groom himself like a cat (apparently when he was originally rescued he was living in a feline colony which might explain it). On the other hand, he occasionally resembles Scooby-Doo, so a lioness might be too majestic.
Your world travels and love for peoples and cultures shows in your work; does your dog have a similar taste for adventure and meeting new people? Leo shares my love of car rides, hiking and meeting new people. He has that wonderful enviable dog characteristic of treating every new activity as though it’s a madly happy new adventure. He is excited when we leave the house, when we get back to the house, when he jumps in the car, when he jumps out of the car…