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Canine cleaning season

Self dog wash a good way to deal with muddy paws

Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2005


  Bob, and English springer spaniel owned by Laura Gossman of Kasilof, gets a bath on Thursday at the self dog wash at Our Best Friends pet shop in Soldotna. "It's great," Gossman said. "At home Bob splashes water everywhere." Photo by Joseph Robertia

Bob, and English springer spaniel owned by Laura Gossman of Kasilof, gets a bath on Thursday at the self dog wash at Our Best Friends pet shop in Soldotna. "It's great," Gossman said. "At home Bob splashes water everywhere."

Photo by Joseph Robertia

The wet weather that is so common after the autumnal equinox is already upon us.

Seemingly perpetual precipitation, huge holes of mud and puddles of all proportions are common at this time of year, and the subsequent mess they cause can be a major inconvenience, particularly with regard to pet owners.

Some pets have a knack for tracking mud, dirt and grime over every square inch of the house after being let outside for just a few minutes.

Rather than reupholstering the furniture, steam cleaning the carpet or spending hours mopping the floor, many pet owners instead opt to bathe their furry friends to keep things clean in their home or apartment.

"We get a lot of dogs at this time of year," said Jody Hoskins, owner of Our Best Friends pet shop in Soldotna, which offers a self pet-washing service.

From pooches with only their paws dirty to canines covered from head to tail in mud, Hoskins said many owners head in to wash their pets rather than attempting to do it at home.

"We're getting close to our goal of doing six to 10 dogs a day," he said.

Not to be confused with a dog grooming service, the pet shop staff doesn't do the work for the pet owner. Instead they provide the facility and materials for pet owners to do the work themselves.

Rather than washing pets at home and having drains clog with gobs of fur, floors and walls covered in shook-off water and and tons of soggy towels to contend with afterward — the self pet-washing business takes care of all that.

"People wash their pets, we clean up the mess," Hoskins said.

The self pet-washing business has four stainless steel washtubs that can accommodate dogs of any size from tiny terriers to mammoth-sized malamutes.

Three of the tubs are 2 feet by 4 feet and one tub is 2 feet by 5 feet. There are guide ramps up to the tubs so owners need not strain themselves lifting pets into the wash basins. There also are platforms for small dogs to stand on in the tub.

"We provide the shampoo," Hoskins said. He explained there are many to choose from, including some delicious-sounding choices such as oatmeal, almond, pina colada and green apple.

Hoskins said there's also a moisturizing-conditioning shampoo for dogs with dry coats and flaky skin; a whitening-brightening shampoo for dogs with white or light coat colors; hypoallergenic shampoo for allergy sufferers; an aromatic shampoo for dogs that roll in dead fish, manure or other stinky things; and a cream rinse for conditioning dogs with long hair.

"People can also bring in their own shampoos, such as those prescribed by a veterinarian," Hoskins added.

For the $10 fee to wash pets, owners are provided with shampoo, an apron to wear, a chamois to wash their pets with and a towel to dry them afterward.

For an addition $5, owners also can utilize a self-grooming area to mechanically dry their pets with hand-held blowers and brush them out afterward.

Hoskins said the blowers are different than dryers in that they utilize forced air rather than high heat to dry, since the latter can not only damage a dog's coat if done improperly, but also can overheat a pooch.

There's no need to worry about cold air, though. Hoskins said the building is kept warm to prevent schnauzers from shivering and Chihuahua's from being chilly.

"It's always at or above 75 degrees in here," he said.

No appointments are necessary to bring a pet into Our Best Friends for a self pet wash, and Hoskins said cats also are welcome at the business. For more information, call 262-7387.

Joseph Robertia is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. He has worked with wildlife and domestic animals for more than 10 years as a veterinary technician, a zoo keeper, and most recently as a zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He welcomes any pet-related questions or story ideas, but please none of a veterinary nature. Ideas and questions can be sent to his attention by e-mail at

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