It's good enough for Gigi, Francois and Coquette.

The owner of the Airedale who flies his dog from New York into National Airport every 90 days thinks it's tops.

But landlord J. Newman Carter said the Tara Dog Salon was too tacky for Lee Heights Shopping Center in Arlington.

"My stockholders have been after me for five years to throw you out," read part of a letter Carter sent to salon owner Margaret Smith earlier this month.

Carter has high ambitions for the stores in Lee Heights. If he can get the owners to carry the kind of high-quality merchandise he wants them to, Carter says he thinks Lee Heights "will do for Arlington what Quincy Market did for Boston."

In the letter to Smith, Carter outlined the conditions under which her dog-grooming shop would be allowed to remain in the small, 18-store shopping center, which is in the heart of red-brick apartment buildings and modest homes in central Arlington.

To stay in the shopping center and meet his standards, Carter wrote, Smith would have to hire an interior designer to redecorate her shop and would have to upgrade her merchandise.

"We want the finest quality merchandise obtainable including the obscure craftsman in Tennessee who makes the best dog collar in the world -- I will get his name for you," the letter stated.

The best dog collar in the world?

"He's got some screwy ideas about running a business," Smith said last week as she puffed a cigarette in her little shop and contemplated an impending move three blocks further out on Lee Highway.

"I'm a dog groomer," Smith said. "The supplies I sell are just for the convenience of the customer."

Smith and Carter agree that they have disagreed for 10 years -- ever since Carter recruited Smith's dog-grooming business to fill up what was then an almost-empty shopping center.

For the last five years, they have fought tooth and nail. When they were unable to come to terms on a long-term lease five years ago, Smith went on a month-to-month rental agreement.

The letter was the last straw. Smith hung it in her store window and started packing.

"When I got this letter, I couldn't believe it," says Smith sadly. "Whatever has happened in the past, I didn't deserve that."

In retrospect, Carter agrees.

"I shouldn't have sent it," Carter admits. "It was absolutely deplorable and tasteless.

"But you've got to understand, it arose out of 10 years of frustration with a difficult tenant."

But Carter adds he believes there was no need for Smith to post the letter.

"It seems there was a concerted effort on the tenant's part to embarrass me," he says.

Smith, who originally ran just a "beauty parlor for dogs," says she tried to comply with Carter. She stocked the shelves with Snowy Coat, Cat Snax and Good Boy Choc Drops.

There always was an ample supply of litter pans and leashes. But Smith admits her heart was in the back room, among the cages, tubs, doggie blow dryers and the yapping little canines with bows in their hair.

Despite Smith's modifications, the retail end of her business didn't satisfy Carter.

"At the time I recruited her the business was 100 percent service," recalled Carter, adding that he and Smith had a "verbal understanding" that the bulk of her business would be in retail sales. "Once she got the lease, she made a half-hearted attempt at sales."

Carter also recently demanded that dress shop owner Josie Davis, who sold medium-priced women's clothes, stock better-quality merchandise.

Carter admits that his demands that Davis bring in a more expensive line forced her into premature retirement. "That was really a shame," Cater says. "Mrs. Davis is the salt of the earth."

Last weekend, Davis had closed her store and could not be reached for comment.

Carter reportedly has experienced turbulent times with other tenants. Several said they would comment on the Tara Dog Salon situation but only if they could remain anonymous -- lease renewals are coming up.

Carter "would rather see a line of Cadillacs and chauffeurs outside his shops than regular people," contends one businessman.

He added that Carter "fails to recognize that Mrs. Smith has some very, very influential customers who patronize other shops while they wait for their dogs to be groomed."

Another shop owner says his frequent confrontations with Carter over how the shop should be run have created an unpleasant atmosphere.

"It's been a strain on my family," he said. "There have been so many crises, so many threats of being thrown out. The lease renewals (the negotiations) were awful."

But other tenants praise Carter and say he has made helpful suggestions about their businesses.

One tenant, who also asked not to be named, said that Carter helped him several times and that Carter even reduced the tenant's rent at one point when business was bad.

Tomorrow marks the end of the strife between Carter and the Tara Dog Salon. Smith will open her new shop, and Carter will begin searching for a new tenant.

"I'd like to bring in something like a gourmet cookware shop," muses Carter. "Yes, that would tie in very nicely with our food stores."