When it comes to arm candy, being a showstopper on the streets of downtown Birmingham — where the fashion bar is set pretty high — takes more than a gorgeous trophy date or five-figure handbag.
Along Old Woodward, Pierce, and Merrill, a pink Pomeranian named Pink Lily beats all comers. Dog walker Jody Astrein has witnessed the head-turning spectacle from her perspective at the human end of Lily’s leash. “I’m afraid she’ll cause an accident,” Astrein says. “People stop their cars and lean out the window with their camera phones, asking if they can take a picture.”
Probably four or five people in the course of a typical walk ask if they can take a snapshot, says Astrein, a licensed veterinary technician who covers about 17 miles a day as the owner of Downtown Dogs.
Then there are the questions and comments. “Everybody asks if it’s her natural color, which is so funny,” Astrein says. “Sometimes I say she jumped into the clothes dryer and there were some red socks in there.”
Actually, her standout appearance comes courtesy of her owner, Julie Hall, who operates Garden of Eden Dog Grooming in Birmingham. Hall says her pooch isn’t just another pretty face. She does charitable work, visiting Beaumont Hospital where she cheers young patients.
In other communities, artificially colored canines have sparked controversy. A Colorado woman was fined $1,000 recently for tinting her poodle with beet juice in violation of a Boulder city code that disallows the dying of any fauna.
Pink Lily has inspired a bit of negative feedback. Once, Astrein was walking her colorful client past al fresco diners at a popular Birmingham restaurant when a platinum blonde patron muttered audibly, “How cruel.” Astrein says she thought, “Let’s see, Kool-Aid or toxic [hair] chemicals.”
Yes, Pink Lily gets a Cherry Kool-Aid dye job courtesy of her dog-groomer owner. Apparently, the secret to turning heads in the high-rent district is as simple as mixing a friendly personality with a sugary child’s drink.