At many New Orleans boutiques, a tiny pooch is a de rigueur shop accessory, but Hall-Barnett Gallery's (237 Chartres St., 504-522-5657; www.hallbarnett.com) shop dog is an 85-pound Doberman pinscher named Boomer. Though he's large, four-year-old Boomer seems to think of himself as pint-sized: He's laid claim to a poodle-sized bed and refuses to give it up.
"I've tried to get him to adapt to large dog beds so that Dixon, my toy poodle, can have his bed back, but Boomer loves that bed," says owner Holly Barnett.
Boomer and Dixon alternate days at the gallery. "Together, they just get too rambunctious," she says.
The gallery's collection of works features emerging artists like Carey Hero King and Mary Rundle. Ann and Howard Barnett, Holly's parents, opened the gallery in 1988 in Exchange Alley. The gallery closed in 2000. A longtime art collector, Holly carried on her family's legacy by reopening Hall-Barnett Gallery in May, when more than 500 people attended its first show, which featured artists whose works were exhibited at the gallery in the 1980s.
"It was really a homecoming," Holly says. "Even if they were showing with other galleries, the artists put a piece in (this show) as an homage to my dad. Everyone was so sweet. My dad passed away eight years ago because he had Alzheimer's (disease). He was known for helping young emerging artists. "
Holly works at the same desk her father used 33 years ago. Under this desk, Boomer takes his naps. At night, he sleeps in Barnett's bed.
"He used to sleep at the foot of my bed, but over the years, he has moved up to the point that he cuddles into a little ball right next to me," Holly says. "It's adorable."
Holly adopted Boomer from a breeder in Nacogdoches, Texas, when the pup was seven weeks old. During the six-hour car ride home, Boomer was well-behaved — and remains so today, obeying Holly's every command as he follows her through the store.
If Holly leaves the house without him, Boomer has a tendency to run away. Once, when Holly was visiting her mother Ann, Boomer escaped and followed her. A neighbor of Ann's phoned to let the Barnetts know they had a canine caller. When they returned to Ann's house, Boomer jumped into Holly's lap as though they had been separated for years.
Though the Doberman's size is intimidating to some, Boomier is a bit of a marshmallow and is terrified of bad weather. "He's a huge baby," Holly says. "I would be a little nervous about approaching a big dog, but because he looks so sweet, most people want to pet him."
My favorite things
• My poodle bed
• Stuffed animals
• My best friend Dixon, a poodle
• Licking dirty dishes in the dishwasher