May 3, 2007

Bath Time for Bowser: Muddy Paw Dog Wash & Coffee Bar


Best mashup of the year to date and it doesn't even involve a computer.

Long story short: You take your dog in for a bath and luxuriate with a cuppa joe, WiFi and the sight and sound of shining happy dogs.

It doesn't get any better than that.

Here's Jura Koncius's article from today's Washington Post.

    Sit. Stay. Bathe. Have a Latte.

    Bubba is having his hair fluffed after an apple-oatmeal shampoo. His owner, Mike Fitzgerald, sits at a table at the cafe in the next room, drinking cappuccino and checking his e-mail. Sure beats trying to wash an 80-pound golden retriever in the family bathtub.

    At Muddy Paw Wash and Coffee Bar [above] in Annapolis, customers can walk in and soap up their terrier or poodle themselves at one of five stations. Or they can chill out with an iced latte while a staffer does the job for $7.50 extra. Some forgo the bath and stop by just for the caffeine and to hang out with other owners and their dogs.

    The two-year-old business embraces two strong market forces in today's culture: WiFi-equipped coffee bars and pampered pets.

    "I just wanted to be able to take my dogs to work and drink lattes all day," says co-owner Joe Mutlu, who opened Muddy Paw with his brother, John.

    The brothers, both refugees of the tech world, located their business in a former pharmacy outside the entrance to Quiet Waters Park, one of the area's most popular — and muddiest — dog parks. Now on a busy Saturday or Sunday, about 100 dogs stop in to clean up. The brothers are franchising the concept, planning six more locations in the Washington area by the end of next year.

    The Muddy Paw social scene is fast-paced. A glimpse of one morning last week: Several human customers are having coffee and reading the paper, some with a freshly washed dog napping at their side. In back, Sacha the Weimaraner is getting a shampoo while Bachi, a chocolate Lab, is having a nail clipping. Stella, a comely Cavalier King Charles spaniel, steps in. Instantly the dozing dogs wake up and walk over to check her out.While nobody is looking, shop-dog Yogi sniffs out a bone-shaped peanut butter dog biscuit on somebody's table. Meanwhile, Sadie, a clumber spaniel who comes in every two weeks, prances out of the washroom for a couple of laps around the cafe.

    After a lot of sniffing and circling, the dogs trot back to their owners, and the daily routine of washing and coffee brewing goes on.

    The DIY dog-washing business — usually more affordable than traditional grooming services or mobile wash vans — started taking hold in the 1990s on the West Coast. South Bark and Dog Beach Dog Wash in San Diego and Rub-a-Dub Dog and Soggy Doggy in the Seattle area (clever names abound) joined bakeries, day-care centers and hotels (a.k.a. kennels) in the burgeoning pet service industry. Even superstores such as the Petco pet supply chain have added DIY washing facilities.

    In the Washington area, smaller operations such as Old Town Doggie Wash in Alexandria, Chateau-Animaux on Capitol Hill and Lucky Dog Laundromutt and Lounge in Adams Morgan have brought locals a place to suds up their pets. In October, Bark 'N Bubbles opened in Ashburn, and it recently added a lounge with wireless Internet for owners. A Bark 'N Bubbles location in Herndon opening in June will have a full-time barista.

    At Muddy Paw, wash stations are equipped with walk-up tubs with ramps, dozens of shampoos and conditioners, brushes, towels, eye and ear wipes, and dryers. Self-serve prices range from $12 for a small dog such as a Jack Russell terrier to $18 for a Labrador. (See details at www.muddypawwash.com) Just like at the carwash, the seventh dog wash is on the house. And after 10 coffee drinks, you get one free.

    Brenda Anderson of Annapolis brings in Chessie, a 1-year-old Lagotto Romagnolo (an Italian water dog) who does not like water. "I have to bring her in when she starts smelling like a dog," Anderson says. She orders an iced coffee and runs out to pick up some wine across the street while Chessie gets sudsed.

    Fitzgerald, of Annapolis, brings 13-year-old Bubba once a month for a full-serve $25.50 wash, dry and brush-out. "He loves it. He jumps right in the tub," Fitzgerald says. "Most other groomers want $65 to get him clean, because he has so much fur and it's matted down. It's hard on my back for me to do it myself. And other places you need to set an appointment. I don't do that for my own hair."


Everybody in!


For those of us not fortunate enough to live in Annapolis, Koncius provided an accompanying guide to doing it yourself; it follows.

    When It's Bath Time for Bowser

    When your dog starts smelling like a dog, it's time for a bath.

    "Washing your dog yourself is a much more enjoyable experience for the person and the dog than sending it to a groomer or hosing it down in the back yard," says Susan Silver, owner of Adams Morgan's Lucky Dog Laundromutt and Lounge. "The dog is more relaxed. After all, the dog is getting all the attention of his favorite person."

    So how often should you figure on having this enjoyable experience? If your dog spends most of his day lying on his bed (or yours), every month or two is fine. But if he is a regular on the dog park circuit and gets into lots of underbrush and muddy puddles, every few weeks or so is probably a good idea.

    The size of your dog might affect how often you need to wash. According to Chicago veterinarian Sheldon Rubin, an adviser to the American Veterinary Medical Association, large dogs might need washing only every two months. Small dogs can be bathed every two weeks, and medium-size dogs usually need a bath every four to six weeks.

    Here are tips for giving your dog a bath:

    • Assemble everything you'll need — shampoo, lots of towels, a waterproof apron (for you) — before you begin. Some pet owners use the bathtub or kitchen sink, others opt for the garden hose.

    • Brush your dog before the bath, advises Pam Ahart, president of Bark 'N Bubbles, a full- and self-service dog wash in Ashburn. "We have a tool called the Furminator," Ahart says. "It gets all the hair in the undercoat."

    • Water temperature should be cooler than what you would use to wash yourself. Lukewarm is good.

    • Use a shampoo formulated for dogs, not for people. Dog shampoos have a lower pH factor. Some vets prescribe special shampoos for skin conditions; take those along if you are going to a DIY facility.

    "We usually suggest a hypoallergenic shampoo," Rubin says. "It's soap-free but still cleans well and is less drying to the skin." He recommends oatmeal-based shampoos. He also cautions against washing your dog immediately after using a topical flea or tick repellent: "Either wait a few days after applying it to give a bath or put it on just after you bathe your dog, because it works well when applied on clean skin."

    • Lather and scrub all areas, using your hands. Be careful around the eyes and ears. Many self-service dog washes provide disposable ear and eye wipes.

    • Feel your pet's body for ticks, lumps and bumps as you are sudsing. New or unusual growths should be reported to your vet.

    • Rinsing is important. "Make sure you rinse your dog really well," says Meg Corbet, who owns Old Town Doggie Wash. "Many people tend not to, and your dog could get really itchy."

    • DIY dog-wash centers usually provide professional-grade room-temperature hair dryers rather than the heated-air type people use. If you wash your pet at home, it's not a good idea to use your own heated-air blow dryer; its high temperatures could make your dog overheated and dehydrated.

    • At the end, a treat might be in order — for both of you.


Like I said — "Arf."

May 3, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Posted by: BradS | Mar 22, 2009 7:06:03 PM

I would not recommend this place to anyone. From the lobby, it appears a great place, Staff is friendly, appears clean...though somewhat industrial looking as you look through the glass to the wash area. Several people ahead of me were dropping their dog off or just simply waiting to pick them up and having the dog washed by the staff...since this was my Dog's first time, I thought it best for me to take her back and do it myself. Boy am I glad I did. So for starters, this is not my first dog wash, had been to several before and was very excited when I found Muddy Paws, however I will NEVER, EVER go there again. I am escorted to the back by a nice young girl, who spoke so soft that I could barely hear her, and then when I looked up again she was gone. Okay, no big deal. So I begin by trying to set up the soap to be dispensed (there is four options) and it is fed directly through the water hose...no soap. I kept trying and trying, after about ten minutes another guy asks me if everything is alright and I show him my problem. He fiddles with it for a second, couldn't get it working and then brings me a bottle of shampoo to wash the dog. Okay, mulligan, I guess things do break, but no offer to move me to another stall, and really, not much effort or concern on there part. So I continue washing...the water temperature was supposed to be able to regulated as you would expect your shower to be at home, however; my only option appeared cold or very cold. At this point I am starting to get frustrated. To be honest, my Lab weighs about 80 lbs so I think I was paying around 20 dollars to wash my dog, and it wasn't so much the money...but the lack of care for any sort of customer service. Now on to what really put the icing on the cake. They provide ear wipes, eye wipes...one was empty, and the other one was full of dog hair and nastyness....Not even nice wipes...basically the cheapest you could find. All of the while this is going on, some girl is walking back and forth with a sqeaky toy squeaking it for all it is worth. Seriously, my dog is real easy to wash while your doing that...moron. And as I turn around to look at what she is doing and think about ripping her head off, I see she is like 14 and decide to bite my tongue. What I do notice though is that there is a bulldog and some little fluffy dog stuffed in a crate dryer and two others in another... Let me tell you, I wouldn't want my dog with some other dog in the same crate, not only are they not getting dried well, it didn't look comfortable at all.

So I swallow my frustration, finish washing the dog and then let her out to dry her off...NO towels. Are you kidding me? Do these people give a shit about the customer? I ask for towels, they bring two to me, and then when my dog steps on to the mat by the wash basin, I notice what an absolute pig sty is in this place. I don't mean a little hair, it was absolutely attrocious. There was dog hair and dirt, mud, and whatever all over the counters the floor, under the bin...Just where I want to have my dog sitting down after I just spent good money to wash her. I quickly dried her...and rushed her out to the lobby.

As I proceded to the counter to pay, the lady at the counter nicely asked how I liked it...I think she was sorry she did. I explained my frustration and she refused to let me pay. My point in complaining was not to avoid payment...but to let her know what I really thought about it.

In my humble opinion, if you are going to run a place like this, you need to #1 keep up with the cleanliness. I mean seriously, a quick once over with a shop vac after each customer, and a QA that the soap is available, towels, wipes, etc, etc. After all, these are paying customers, and hopefully returning customers. I will definitely not be. These people have a good thing going, as they are right outside of quiet waters which this time of year is an absolute mud pit. My advice, save your money and get out the garden hose or put the pup in the shower at home. I had thought about opening something like this in the area...so was a little bummed when I saw that Muddy Paws was up and running. Fig'd maybe I'd missed my oportunity. After visiting Muddy paws...I don't see them as competition at all. In an area like Annapolis, people expect customer service, cleanliness, and will pay good money to get that. I actually felt bad for putting my lab through this. If I had just dropped her off, or allowed them to do it, I would have never known what went on in the back and would have probably come back again. My advice is to give the back a try instead of dropping your dog off...I would think you would very quickly form my same opinion.

Posted by: | Jan 20, 2008 4:32:19 PM

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