Nieder uses the self-serve dog wash area at Ollu
Dog Salon to clean her 14-year-old Labrador on
November 14, 2012. After trying once to wash her
dog at home, she started using the salon.
ó Rachel Nieder gave her black lab a bath at home
once. "But just once," she said. "There
was a lot of water, a lot of fur and a lot of hurt
now the Columbia Heights, Minn., resident takes her dog,
Beauty, to the Ollu self-service dog wash in
Minneapolis. Both seem happy with the change. Nieder
doesnít have to kneel next to her bathtub or worry
about Beautyís fur clogging the drain.
when the bath is over, Beauty can shake to her heartís
content ó the shop provides Nieder with a rubber apron
and an attendant squeegees the floor.
the words "self-service dog wash" prompt a
double take, youíre not alone, said Jodel Fesenmaier,
Olluís owner. When she opened the shop three years
ago, she spent half her time trying to explain to
customers why there was a need for such a place.
once they try it, theyíre hooked," she said.
businesses have sprung up all over, and have made
inroads into some national chains, including Petco, as
part of the $3.5 billion that Americans spend each year
on their pets.
can actually have fun washing your dog," promised
Keith Miller, owner of Bubbly Paws in St. Louis Park,
Minn. In fact, many dog owners are surprised at how
docile their pets become when their owners arenít
worried about the logistics of bathing.
dog is more relaxed because youíre more relaxed,"
self-service shops also have professional groomers on
hand to help with the tasks that make some owners
nervous, such as clipping nails. Theyíll help you pick
out the right shampoo, too. But for the most part, itís
just common sense, said Kristiana Clough, owner of
Country Critters in St. Francis, Minn.
you can give a kid a bath, you can give a dog a
bath," she said.
notion of a self-service dog wash didnít originate
with Fesenmaier. The businesses are extremely popular in
Southern California, and when she was living in San
Diego she used them often to clean her dogs. When
Fesenmaier moved back to Minnesota, she couldnít find
a DIY wash. "So I drew up a business plan for Ollu."
(The name is a nod to her dogs, Oliver and Lulu.)
shops have found a niche with condominium owners, who
often lack laundry rooms in which to spray down their
pets. The service also is popular among people who own
large dogs. (Ramps help get the big dogs into the
businesses also draw seasonal customers. Among them are
Jennifer and Corey Johnson from Brooklyn Park, Minn.,
who recently brought their black lab, Harley, into Ollu
for a bath.
we just hose him down when he gets dirty," Corey
Johnson said. "But when it gets cold out, we canít
wash him in the yard anymore."
thereís the hair, Jennifer Johnson added, which tends
to amass in alarming quantities.
leave a couple of pounds of hair behind," she said.
"We donít want that in the bathtub."
customers alternate between using professional groomers
and the DIY approach. A bath can be "a cheap way to
get out of a few groomings," Miller said.
most groomers donít have an issue with the
self-service baths, Clough said. Dogs that need regular
cuts, such as poodles, are still going to use a grooming
think most groomers are indifferent" about the
trend, she said. "It caters to a different group of
at the self-service washes start at about $15, depending
on the size of the dog and the number of extra services,
such as nail clipping. The fee includes shampoo, towels,
toothbrushes and electric dryers for the dogs, plus
waterproof aprons for the owners. The tubs are sanitized
owners have found a social component thatís missing
from an at-home bath. About once every six weeks,
friends Annie Salmen and Kasia Chamiec wash their dogs
at the same time. They stand at adjacent tubs: Salmen,
of St. Paul, Minn., tends to Buddy, a beagle-spaniel
mix, while Chamiec, from Minneapolis, washes her
sort of a girlsí night out," Salmen said. To
which Chamiec added: "When we get done, we go have
a glass of wine to celebrate our victory."