Photographs by Bob Rozycki.
There’s no denying Nicole Patrick’s love of dogs.
A kind manner and a firm-yet-gentle authority are more than evident on a recent morning when WAG catches up with the New York City-based actress.
On this day, Patrick — and her three dogs — just happen to be visiting her parents’ home in Pound Ridge.
We’ve stopped by to hear all about Chic Chien Chateau, one of Patrick’s passions and a venture she launched in 2014.
Patrick both founded and funds the nonprofit agency that she has described as “a virtual animal shelter specializing in designer and teacup dogs that need adopting.”
The featured animals, she adds, are the same you might find at a breeder or pet store but, because of circumstances, are truly in need of good homes.
“I want to save dogs, first and foremost, that don’t have a chance.”
Rescue animals, she says, have a special bond with their new families.
“They’re happier because they know that you saved them. They’re more loved.”
Chic Chien Chateau grew out of Patrick’s longtime love of animals and her own experiences.
With her own — and her family’s — histories of pet rescues, Patrick found her friends would call on her for advice.
“My friends would start asking me, ‘Could you help me find a Yorkie or a Pomeranian?’” She would point them to animal shelters or rescue websites but, overwhelmed by the task, they asked Patrick to take a more active role.
SEEING THE NEED
It was her experience with a particular dog that gave Patrick the real push.
“I saw Tribeca in a pet store and she was so sick,” she says of her now-healthy, 6-year-old Pomeranian mix.
She placed calls to the ASPCA to complain about the conditions, eventually buying the dog and nursing her back to health.
“That kind of opened my eyes to puppy mills.”
Patrick would go on to adopt Gatsby, a Golden Retriever mix who’s now 4. She also has an 8-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Tabitha.
Around this time, Patrick was looking to do some volunteer work in the city.
“Because I’m an actress, I have a lot of free time.”
But as she also might be away on a set for months at a time, she decided to create her own opportunity with what she likens to a bit of a matchmaking service.
Patrick does the extensive research, identifying dogs in local shelters or listed online (most often on Petfinder.com) and then matching them with a new home.
THE FAMILY BUSINESS
It’s work that both fulfills her desire to help — and fits her interests and schedule.
Patrick’s credits include the Woody Allen film “Whatever Works” and TV series “Gossip Girl” and “All My Children.” Recently, she appeared in “The Rewrite,” starring Hugh Grant, and a short film that she hopes will debut at the Sundance Film Festival.
“I started acting when I was about 10,” Patrick says. “My parents are both in the film business so I kind of grew up on sets.”
Her father, assistant director and producer Richard Patrick, has worked in both films (including numerous Woody Allen projects, such as “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Sweet and Lowdown”) and television (“Elementary,” “In Treatment”), while her mother, Stacy Patrick, has worked as a production assistant.
Vincent Patrick, Nicole’s grandfather, wrote the book and screenplay for “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” the 1984 film starring Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts.
Patrick, who attended Fox Lane High School in Bedford and The Harvey School in Katonah, moved into the city at age 15 and attended The Juilliard School at 17 to study opera. Her acting studies have included time at The Actors Studio and the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, in Sanford Meisner classes and with coach Sheila Gray.
“I go to California a lot,” Patrick says, before adding with a laugh. “That being said, a lot of the work I get in New York is (as) ‘the California girl.’”
Other pursuits include singing — she’s recording an album and likens her music to that of Adele — and along with a friend has launched a “dog and people clothing” company, It Girls NYC.
A vegan, Patrick is also collaborating on a blog and cookbook.
She has long been influenced by time spent in Europe. She’ll casually command her dogs in French. Patrick, who has also modeled in Ibiza and Saint-Tropez, is looking into further study at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
“As long as I’m working, I’m happy,” she says.
On the Chic Chien Chateau front, she has plans for a major fundraiser this year and would also like to build a network of volunteers and foster families.
“I would like to eventually get my own space and really have a shelter, (one) that’s really a boutique shelter.”
In the meantime, she focuses on the day-to-day successes.
Since Chic Chien Chateau’s July launch, Patrick has placed six dogs with new families and now has four families she is working with on “finding the perfect dog for them.”
“I put a lot more time in than most people have to spend looking for dogs,” she says.
But clearly, it’s a labor of love.
For more, visit chienchateau.com.