- Associated Press - Saturday, September 13, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Nancy Keen Palmer is worried about Lily and Holly.

The worry doesn’t show, though. Only a bright smile lights her face as Lily, a 6-year-old miniature dachshund-Yorkie mix, and her half-sister, Holly, a 7-year-old Yorkie, take turns climbing into Palmer’s lap and lavishing her with licks.

Palmer, 25, has planted herself squarely on the floor of the dog play room of the Crossroads Pet-Shop & Adopt facility, which looks out at a funeral home and shares its parking lot with a hot-chicken wing outfit at Monroe and Rosa Parks in the heart of Germantown.

“Holly and Lily’s owner died,” Palmer says. “They are sisters, though, and we’re going to keep them together. It does make it harder to find them a home, though.”

The animals, unworried by their situation, climb into a stranger’s lap as well, whining and distributing licks.



This is not an uncommon scene at Crossroads Pet-Shop & Adopt, which is fronted by the pet retail store, an intimate retail space from which all sorts of specialty dog and cat foods, chewing antlers and bones and paraphernalia can be purchased.

But there’s much more inside this old home, a former tea-room, in Germantown. For example, it houses the pet adoption rooms - one for dogs, one for cats, plus the play room - in the back part of the store.

There also is a grooming room and what Palmer terms “Nashville’s sexiest dog wash” - for $10 you can get Sparky sparkling. There is an outdoor play space as well. That’s not to mention the maze of office and storage space.

This whole house is the site of a business with a mission.

At its heart are two segments of Nashville: Young people who are at a crossroads in life, a place where they can decide whether to go forward on the straight-and-narrow or take the easier, but perhaps deadlier, route of so many urban young people.

The other segment served by this business and social enterprise are the animals, like Holly and Lily, but also like Meadow, the 10-year-old chunk of a tabby who reigns over the office.

Not a lot of people are going to adopt an older cat, and in this case it’s working out for Meadow, who is the Cat Executive Officer of the operation and spends her time and energy “helping” the office staff carry out their mission of building bridges for social change.

It is hoped that soon the shop-and-adopt portion of the building’s mission will pay the bills for the Crossroads Campus non-profit and its work with young people.

“We have a passionate board,” says Palmer, whose animal-centric sociology degree was the ideal preparation for this job when Crossroads pets opened up more than a year ago.

The reason for the store’s being is apparent in the young people who are stocking shelves, tending the cash register, doing laundry, helping with the dogs and cats and interacting with customers . learning marketable job skills while helping with the operation of the non-profit.

Eventually the goal of Crossoads is to expand its campus, to buy or build affordable housing for the young people in the program both while they are interning in this building and after they’ve gone out in search of professional lives.

In addition to educating young people about animals as things to be loved rather than neglected, the store and its backrooms also help give youth “readiness job training.”

For example, the interns all work with the groomers who rotate through, with the only day that a groomer isn’t present being Wednesday.

“Typically they have grooming jobs outside of Crossroads and they just want to be a part of what we are doing,” Palmer says of the groomers.

Depending on the size of a dog, groomings begin at $49 and go up to the $100 range. It takes about three hours per dog.

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Information from: The Nashville Ledger, https://www.nashvilleledger.com

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