This guest blog post is by Kelly Love Johnson.
Let me start by saying that I’ve been a regular at Dirty Dog’s Mesa location for about three years now, beginning a few months after I moved to Austin in January of 2010.
My Pomeranian, Lulu, was just a year old and no longer small enough to bathe in the kitchen sink, so I had been torturing both of us with bend-over-the-tub baths and 45 minutes of blow drying (with my not-professional blow dryer).
There was also the issue of her toenails.
Her vet clipped them for me before I moved. My one attempt to trim them myself resulted in one of us bleeding (dog) and the other in tears (me).
So with a dog that was starting to smell a little bit worse than corn chips (when your dog sleeps next to your head, you notice these things) and overly long nails (also unpleasant when one of your dog’s jobs is to walk on you as often as possible), I did what I always do: turned to the Internet.
I had started following lots of Austin folks on Twitter before moving here and, serendipitously, one of them turned out to be Blair Smith, co-owner and founder of Dirty Dog Austin. I followed one of her tweets to Dirty Dog’s web site and discovered (a) there was a location a few blocks from my house and (b) seven dollars to wash my (then under 10 lbs.) dog fit my budget.
Our First Visit to Dirty Dog
I popped in with Lulu the next day and again – serendipity! – Blair happened to be at the front desk.
After some social awkwardness that included me exclaiming that I followed her on Twitter, she gave me the rundown on self-serve washing: Aprons to keep your clothes from getting wet, waist-high sinks with leads to prevent your pup from jumping out of them, professional grooming tools like brushes and clippers, towels, shampoo and conditioner, ear wash, and hair dryers (take my word for it: 10 minutes to blow dry a Pom from head to tail was happiness for both of us).
Blair explained everything, and even gave me a few tips on brushing Lulu (dogs with dense double coats should be brushed against the direction of growth – who knew?).
That kind of personal service from the owner of a business – when I was spending less than $20 and had been a little on the needy side – sold me then and there. I continued to bring Lulu in for several months. I added nail trimming from the a la carte services ($14) when I discovered that my feet-sensitive furball would allow Dirty Dog’s groomer to do his thing without yelping like her paws were being mutilated.
I also signed up for Dirty Dog’s email newsletter and followed them on Facebook. On one of those channels, I got a coupon for full-service grooming (they also have great specials if you check in on Foursquare, like free self-serve baths if you’re the mayor). They offered a discount for full-service grooming if I signed up for regular (every 5-6 weeks) appointments. Sold again.
What I Love About Dirty Dog
1. It’s convenient. I still do self-serve in between grooming appointments (you know dogs and the stuff they roll around in). I never have to wait, and can get Lulu from shampoo to done in under an hour all by myself.
2. They’re dog people (this should be obvious, but don’t ask me about the first vet I went to in Austin) and they support all sorts of rescue groups and dog-helper organizations. I love supporting a local company that believes in giving back locally too.
3. The most important thing? I have a clean dog all the time. And she loves her groomer. I don’t know what kind of magic whispering Jonathan does when he has Lulu on a Saturday morning. But if she even hears the word “bath,” she runs to the door, ready to go. She’s also clearly not traumatized when I pick her up (and I have way too many iPhone snaps of my happy, freshly groomed pup at Dirty Dog for the 10 minutes she keeps her bows in).
If your current dog-washing routine involves the backyard, a hose, and prayer- or backache-inducing tub scrubbing (and a really good chance of chasing a soap-slippery dog through your clean house), you might consider giving Dirty Dog a try. Six locations in Austin (the latest at Lakeline), staffed by cheerful and friendly dog people, and a lot more convenient than slipping Mr. Wiggles some Baby Benadryl so you can trim his nails. (Note: I am not condoning drugging your dog with over-the-counter baby medicine. I am condoning getting professional help.)
Dirty Dog Services
Self-service: No appointment needed. Call ahead if you need a la carte services like nail trimming, to make sure a groomer is available. The only thing you need to bring is your dog; everything else is supplied. Price ranges from $7 -17 (based on the weight of your dog). They also have a nice graphic on their web site that nicely sums up how it works.
Full-service: prices vary by breed and size. I pay about $40 (with my “regular customer” discount) for bath, brushing, clipping, nail trim, ear cleaning and anal gland expression (I would pay $40 to never have to use the phrase “anal gland expression” again). See “services and pricing” for all the details.
Kelly Love Johnson is a writer, editor and dog mom who moved to Austin from Charleston, SC for a year…a little over three years ago. She’s been semi-regularly blogging on her site, Microfamous, since 2003-ish.
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