An owner's best friend

Dog bath day is a tough day; this business can make it easier.

Published May 6, 2007

NEW PORT RICHEY - Otis the Great Dane-mastiff mix tried the full-service salon thing. It didn't work out.

He hated getting into the holding cage, hated getting out of it, hated the wait for his turn. Owner Jody Bacon hated that Otis was unhappy but cringed at the alternative: trying to corral her 120-pound baby for a backyard bath.

So Bacon, 26, found another option: The Paw Wash, a self-service pet salon that opened three months ago on Seven Springs Boulevard.

There she led the dog into an elevated cleaning station, sprayed him with a handheld shower nozzle and massaged him with an oatmeal-based shampoo. "Oh, I'm so proud of you!" Bacon told Otis, who stood as still as a palace guard.

Paw Wash is owned by a mother and son, Peggy and Josh Green. Their motto? "We supply everything but the dirty dog."

Everything includes all-natural shampoos, towels, scrubbing brushes, ear wipes, powder, cologne, clippers. In addition to the four cleaning areas, the shop also features two drying stations.

Bath price is based on how much the dog weighs, and runs from as low as $9 for small dogs to $14 for big dogs like Otis. No reservations are required.

Though they offer to do the cleaning for an extra fee, the Greens are clear that they aren't professional dog groomers. Peggy, 44, also works as an accountant with Pasco County Utilities; Josh, 25, is also a financial advisor. Evening and weekend hours help them accommodate having two jobs. So does Josh's wife, Lisa, who works afternoons.

Both Peggy and Josh are self-described animal lovers, and each cleaning station is named for a family dog. Josh, in fact, stopped mid-sentence on another topic to admire the visage of shop mascot Trisket, his puggle, who was sitting near the front of the store.

"Look at that underbite!" he said with great affection.

The seed for the self-service pet wash idea was planted about a year ago when Peggy took her cat, Muffin Man, to the groomer. She said Muffin Man suffered bad gashes that the groomer would not take responsibility for.

The pair researched self-service pet washes, which are usually more prominent in urban areas and the dog-friendly West Coast.

The Greens found a unit at Woodgate Plaza that used to be home to a human hair salon. Josh's father, a contractor, did most of the work on the shop, keeping in mind the peculiarities of their customers: To minimize the noises that scare dogs, he set up the dryer's loud fans in a storage room and rigged them to blow out the hoses at the individual stations.

Since opening in February, the store has had about 145 visits. Every customer, said Josh, seems to have his own story about the challenges of keeping his dog clean.

One customer, he said, had built a special board on her tub to try to prevent her slippery pooch from escaping and running off into the living room.

While their focus is dogs, the Greens don't discriminate. One woman, they say, brought in her cat. None of the canine clients seemed to object.

Jodie Tillman covers business in Pasco County. She can be reached at 727 869-6247 or jtillman@sptimes.com.

If you go

The Paw Wash

The Paw Wash is at 2319 Seven Springs Blvd. in Woodgate Plaza. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call (727) 375-7070 or visit www.mypawwash.com.