• Sample Self-Service Pet Wash Press Release Announcement

    Dirty Dogs Done Dirt Cheap (Press Release)

    Just when I thought I'd heard and seen it all, I learned that Mary Beth Conwell has installed a self-serve dog wash at the carwash she and her husband, Martin, own.

    The carwash is on the corner of Davis and West Thurston streets in Elmira.

    If you're like me, the mention of a dog wash brings a Jetsons-like scenario to mind. Dirty dog stands on a conveyer belt, which carries dirty dog through an automated machine that cleans, dries and fluffs up its coat like magic. No fuss, no muss.

    With that image in my head, imagine my surprise when I went to the carwash to see for myself what a self-serve dog wash actually is. The big yellow paw prints painted on the parking lot led to a door that opened to the dog wash area, formerly the carwash's storage area.

    When I opened the door, there it was -- a large, metal, waist-high tub with a walk-up ramp at the rear and snap-on leash near the front drain to ensure Fido stays put during the wash. A rotary switch allows the pet owner to dispense shampoo, rinse and conditioner, oatmeal shampoo, flea/tick treatment and de-skunker through a hand-held wand, a shorter version of the ones used at many coin-operated automobile washes. A vacuum hose sucks the water from the fur when the bath is finished.

    I left the dog wash thinking "What simple concept. Why didn't I think of the idea?"

    Conwell assured me my reaction was one she gets often. The dog wash she installed about three weeks ago is distributed by the Kleen-Rite Corp. of Columbia, Pa.

    She's had fun familiarizing people with the concept and she's been "pleasantly surprised" with the results.

    So is Keith Lutz, Kleen-Rite's vice-president. Sales of the systems, he said, have grown exponentially since the carwash system/supplies vendor started selling them three years ago. According to a CBS news feature on the dog washes broadcast earlier this year, about 700 similar set-ups can be found around the country. Lutz said a handful of companies make competing dog wash systems. But wherever they are, their popularity is assured.

    Theresa Goodwin recently used the Conwell's dog wash on her 2-year-old St. Bernard, Gabbie, and can see why.

    "It was nice. The pressure in the hoses, the shampoo coming out, everything was so easy. I just had to click the dial," she said. The dog wash will come in handy, she said and will save her money on Gabbie's grooming expenses.

    How much money? The minimum cost is $5, but just like the coin-operated car washes, the more money you put in, the longer the bath time. It cost Goodwin $7 to wash Gabbie, compared with the $40 fee charged by a professional dog groomer for a bath, toe nail clipping and coat trimming.

    When Jim MacIntosh of Horseheads took his golden retriever, Kelsey, to the dog wash about a week ago, he was surprised that he had to wait his turn. It seemed Kelsey had a run-in with a skunk. The recommended method of getting rid of the stink, a hydrogen peroxide-baking soda mixture, didn't work. The de-skunker option at the dog wash did, MacIntosh said.

    While the word about the new wash option circulates among dog owners, Conwell said she's having a ball retrieving the messages about the dog wash left on her answering machine.

    "(The callers) say 'This is wonderful idea.' They love that they don't have to clean the dog in their homes and don't have to bend over; it's so easy, a great idea; it's one of those things that is convenient and priced right; and they can get their cars washed as well as the dog," she said.