Monday, July 19, 2010

Self-service dog wash makes a splash in Salem [video]

Allan and Allyson Fasnacht wash miniature Australian shepherd Lexi at Biscuits & Bubbles.


Allan and Allyson Fasnacht wash miniature Australian shepherd Lexi at Biscuits & Bubbles.

Amy Miles washes her labradoodle at Biscuits & Bubbles, a grooming and self-service dogwash, located in Salem.

Photos by JEANNA DUERSCHERL The Roanoke Times

Amy Miles washes her labradoodle at Biscuits & Bubbles, a grooming and self-service dogwash, located in Salem.

Nona Nelson, The Happy Wag

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This is a tale of three dogs, two bathtubs and one busy morning at Biscuits & Bubbles, a pet supply store that offers grooming, day care and Salem's only self-dog-wash.

The trio of pooches came in covered with the remnants of summer days spent rolling in the yard and left smelling like roses.

Or, more accurately, shampoo and cream rinse.

Open for almost a year, Biscuits & Bubbles features a pair of comfortably raised, large bath tubs specifically designed for scrubbing the fun off any-sized pooch. No need to pack a toiletries bag: supplies, including an apron for the dog's washer, are included.

"We provide everything but the dog," shop owner Van Johnson, 61, said.

Full-service for Fred

A happy-go-lucky golden retriever, Fred, headed to the doggy tub with Kacy Baumann, 24, one of the shop's groomers. Fred had been dropped off by his pet parent for a bath.

Like any good water dog, Fred jumped up in the tub and seemed to enjoy Baumann drenching him with the spray nozzle.

I didn't really think Fred was all that dirty until I saw how much red Virginia clay, a color that almost exactly matched his silky coat, was pasted on the interior of the bathtub.

Fred had a goofy smile on his face while Baumann, an employee at the Main Street shop since September, rubbed him with shampoo.

A lather, rinse and round of conditioner later, Fred was glistening wet. To assist his stylist in her next task, he performed a vigorous shake that got water all over Baumann's apron.

A quick towel dry was followed by the hum of the blow dyer, a noise that didn't seem to please Fred. But being the good sporting dog that he is, he barely complained.

In less than an hour, Fred was a clean, dry, handsome fellow, still grinning from floppy ear to floppy ear.

Video: Biscuits & Bubbles dogwash

Video by Jeanna Duerscherl | The Roanoke Times


Self-serve for Titus

Unlike Fred in the neighboring tub, Titus, a curly-haired black-and-tan airedale, was getting the salon treatment from his pet mom, Cyndi Beutell, a stay-at-home mother of three.

Beutell, a do-it-yourselfer, said she took a break from painting her dining room to take advantage of a weekly discount at Biscuits & Bubbles.

Self-washes are $10 on Wednesdays for dogs of any size.

"That's such a great deal," Beutell said.

Instead of using the shampoo and conditioner the shop provides as part of the wash-your-own-pooch service, Beutell brought her own supplies.

Titus, she said, gets a bath and a nail trim every three weeks at the shop.

Beutell, a Salem resident of less than a year, said she has been bringing Titus to the store since her family adopted him in February.

"We've bought all his toys here," she said. "You can come here and get anything you need." Beutell said Johnson told her he would order Titus' favorite brand of kibble, even though it's one the shop typically doesn't carry.

"Everyone here is so friendly," she said as she rubbed Titus with a chamois towel after his bath. "Good service brings a customer back."

After groomer Jason Perdue trimmed Titus' black toenails, a task that Beutell said she does not feel comfortable performing herself, the freshly cleaned pooch was ready to roll. Johnson said about 60 percent of his customers prefer to wash their dogs themselves.

Little long-haired Lexi

After Baumann had scrubbed both tubs of any remnants of Fred and Titus, in came Lexi, a nervous little ball of fluff.

Lexi seemed apprehensive when her pet parent, Allan Fasnacht, lifted her into the big tub. Maybe she had reason to be a bit nervous. She's had only a couple of baths since she was sidelined with a broken leg after she was struck by a car in May.

The miniature Australian shepherd shivered as Fasnacht, assisted by his 24-year-old daughter, Allyson, did the self-wash and quickly scrubbed the little dog.

At one point she seemed to have had enough of the whole process and tried to escape the tub, but a quick adjustment of the water temperature by her owner seemed to calm her down.

Warm water, Johnson said later, helps many dogs who otherwise may not enjoy a bath tolerate it. He said the temperature of garden hose water, the typical tool of backyard dog washers like me, is about 55 degrees.

"Dogs don't really like cold water," Johnson said, "Except maybe on a 100-degree day."

When Lexi was cleaned, dried and combed, Fasnacht grabbed huge handfuls of her chocolate, caramel and cream-colored hair from the sides of the tub.

Gobs of Lexi's shed locks were circling the oversized drain blocked with a strainer.

"This would be in our bathtub," Fasnacht said, pointing out another reason that Johnson said people like to wash their dogs somewhere besides their own homes.

Return visit?

I live a long way from Salem, but I have a dog that hates getting a bath. After I chase him around the yard with the hose, I usually end up getting more wet than he does. A trip to Biscuits & Bubbles might adjust his attitude.

I noticed there is a $30 surcharge for shampooing skunked dogs, something I've had to do on more than one occasion.

Having someone else de-skunk my dog and keep the fumes out of my house would be worth the trip and the money.

Now if only there was a way to get the stench out of the car.

Nona Nelson's column runs every other Monday in Extra.

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