Luxury shoe designer’s ode to a puppy

Lisa Pliner
Lisa Pliner

Baby Doll Pliner had a great run.

The adorable Maltese who went to doggie heaven in 2014 at the age of 12 was spoiled rotten by her owners, famed shoe designers Donald and Lisa Pliner.

Baby Doll had a life most humans could only dream of — the pampered pooch traveled the world first class, learned to doggie paddle in St. Tropez, drank strictly bottled water and even had her own Twitter account.

The couple miss their beloved pet so much that Lisa decided to memorialize her in a children’s book called “A Puppy’s Dream Come True” (Greenleaf; Amazon).

We spoke to the author, a Miami native who moved to Houston when she was 5. The former model moved back in her early 20s and spent the next 30 years living here. The Pliners, now based in Southern California, have two new Malteses, Moonlite and Sunset.

What was your favorite thing about living in Miami?

Living in Miami my early 20s as a model was everything that you’d imagine: sun, fun and glamour. I lived for the nightlife, the parties, having the beach in your backyard. It was a dream.

What made you decide to get Baby Doll in the first place?

After becoming the wife of a shoe designer — call me Cinderella; the glass slipper fit — we were both ready to start a family right away. Finding out that I was unable to do so was devastating. Donald got me a little white dog in an effort to cheer me up and she became everything to us. She shared in everything we did, whether it was traveling the world, shopping, whatever. Baby Doll lived an amazing life.

What do you think the book will teach kids?

Well, first of all who doesn’t love a little white dog telling stories? The book is targeted to children aged 5 to 8 years old. I wanted to show how a family can love their pets as children. Donald and I also have a little girl we adopted, Starr, who is turning 13. While one has four legs and one has two legs, that love is still there. It’s not any different when you love something.

What was the writing process like?

I originally wrote Baby Doll’s memoir on my own as a personal project, and then I got approached by a publisher to turn her life story into a children’s book, complete with incredible illustrations. I worked together with the illustrator Cheryl Orsini to make sure she really captured our lives authentically, down to our hairstyles and jewelry.

What made Baby Doll so special?

The love she had. You could look in her eyes and see her soul. She lived in a house filled with shoes and never ate a single one. She preferred sitting atop our shoes or our sketches when we were doing collections. You could always tell if she was a fan of a certain drawing or not. She was great around all people and little kids. Even though she was very spoiled, some of what we did could be considered tame by today’s standards. She was just special.

What was a typical day for her like?

Depending on what state or country we were in, she loved taking walks on the beach or hikes in the mountains. She was quite picky so we would cook all her meals for her or if we were doing a personal appearance, she had to have the finest accessories. Then we decided to make her her own collection, Friends of Baby Doll. She was with us 24/7.

You guys know shoes. Can you fill us in on some hot trends?

Fashion always repeats itself but with a new twist. Since we’ve all become lazier, many designers have started making classic tennis shoes that you can wear for every occasion and look cool. Platforms will always be in, and now even pointed toe shoes are back. Bringing something old back and making it new again is fun. Sometimes things just need to be given a fine tuning.

What other news do you have?

Donald and I have started a new company called Right Bank Shoe Co. We like to refer to ourselves as Mr. & Mrs. Right Bank, former designers of the Donald J. Pliner company. I’m already at work on a sequel to a “Puppy’s Dream Come True,” in which she meets her new human sister for the very first time.