Dogs can get really dirty. In fact, dogs seem to enjoy getting really dirty.
Local businessman Tracy Davis can testify to this. He has four dogs — Ruby, Sadie, Nala and Baily — who relish their walks and trips to the park. The white one especially “likes to roll,” Davis said, and cleaning them after is a pain.
“Most people don’t want to wash large dogs at home,” Davis said. “It’s a hassle, especially if you want to keep your bathrooms clean.”
But what if, Davis thought, you could take your dogs to some type of self-service dog wash — like a car wash — and scrub them down before taking them home?
“It basically looks like a big dog house,” Davis said about Muddy Puppy Dog Wash, the business he opened last month in one of the 10 stalls at his friend’s self-service car wash at 570 First Ave. in Coralville.
“It has controls, like a car wash,” Davis said. “You start with the soaps, there are two types you can choose from, and a couple different conditioners, a dryer, vacuum and deodorizer.”
Davis, who owns the local Core Fitness franchise, said he was inspired to open the first self-serve dog wash of its kind in Eastern Iowa – possibly in the state – by a business model he discovered in Las Vegas.
And he thought it would be a perfect fit for the Iowa City-Coralville area. “This is a very dog-friendly community.”
Here’s how it works: An owner escorts his “muddy puppy” into a glass enclosure — a couple hundred square feet in size — and helps him or her into a raised tub.
A garden hose-type sprayer, with heated water, starts off with a rinse and then offers two soap options. After scrubbing the dog, an owner can rinse again and then choose from two types of conditioners — including a flea and tick conditioner.
All the selections come out of the handheld sprayer and, after a final rinse, owners can apply a deodorizer. A vacuum is available to siphon off extra water and hair before the a drier cycle, Davis said.
The doggy tub is on a pedestal, saving owners from having to bend over. And there are plastic aprons to control the splash back, according to Davis. The enclosure also is heated or air conditioned, depending on the season.
And, as every customer leaves, he or she can push a button to apply a disinfectant rinse to prepare the tub for the next user, Davis said.
“Myself and a helper will go out throughout the day and pick it up,” he said. “But people so far have been great about picking up after themselves.”
The cost is $7 for 10 minutes, with more time available at an extra cost.
Davis, so far, has not done any advertising, but he said business is picking up through word-of-mouth. On one Saturday in November, 10 dogs were washed at the self-service station.
Right now the enclosure is tucked inside one of the self-service car wash stalls, but Davis said he’s working with the city of Coralville to move it out so it sits on the pad and stands alone.
Davis said he chose a good time of year to debut his business as recent rain has created plenty of opportunities for dogs to get dirty. And, he said, it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the night owls and early risers.
He worked with a company in Illinois to develop his dog wash, and Davis said he’s now a distributor for the supplier should anyone else locally want to open a similar canine cleaning station.
Owner: Tracy Davis
Company: Muddy Puppy Dog Wash
Address: 570 First Ave. in Coralville
Phone: (319) 631-0461
Website: http://www.facebook.com/MuddyPuppyDogWash or Muddypuppydogwash.com
Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Favorite dog wash feature: “I like the deodorizer. It’s nice, and it gives the dogs a nice smell.”