With soap and water splashing across the room, Ashley Janes made a smart decision to wear a yellow, plastic apron on a recent Tuesday morning.
The dog in her care, a quiet, large-headed Rottweiler pup called Tryst, might have enjoyed his bath more if it weren’t for the cold metal and unfamiliar faces around him.
The 18-month-old dog had reluctantly climbed the metal ramp into the tub. He then sat, head bowed, his big brown eyes shyly looking up at the woman about to rub his fur with oatmeal and aloe soap.
Eventually, some gentle talk and a decent scrub took care of his lack of enthusiasm.
The “wipe your paws” coin-operated pet wash has been around since 2004, said Tryst’s owner and Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital operations manager Dawn Phillips. The pet wash was the first of its kind in St. Albert though more have opened in the years since.
Phillips said the tub is especially useful to dog owners who don’t want to bend over while washing their pups at home.
Janes, project coordinator at the hospital, said it also brings people into the clinic to talk to the veterinarians. Following a dog wash, they often check up on their pet’s health and outstanding shots.
Plus, a bath away from home sometimes keeps the dogs sane.
“If your dogs are timid about bathing they are only timid in this place and they are not freaked out at home around the house or in the bathroom,” Janes said.
With the big tub in the middle, the room can fit a small family and a number of dogs. A gate helps to keep other family pets (or a water shy pup) from running out the door.
But Janes said some dog owners stick all their dogs in the tub at once.
“It’s a really big thing in the summer. It’s kind of nice,” she said.
“A lot of times, parents come in with their children and the kids have to wash the dogs and take care of them.”
Janes said pet owners wash their own dogs but if they have trouble they can ask for help at the clinic. Or they can take their dog to the pet-grooming place next door.
The dog wash is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. No appointments are necessary.
Dog owners don’t need to bring towels or soap. The pet shampoo and pet conditioner are automatically added to the warm water. There is even an option to cool air dry the dog.
Towels can be borrowed at the clinic next door.
The machine is operated with loonies and toonies, a loonie for 3 to 5 minutes of washing, and a toonie for 6 to 10 minutes.
The aprons hang from a hook beside the door. With a big dog like Tryst, it remains questionable how useful they are.
Filled with the joy of having had his ears massaged, Tryst decided to shake his head from left to right, drops of water flying across the room.
Janes said if you imagine the same dog after a romp in a mud puddle, you will quickly understand the benefits of coming here in the summer instead of scraping hair and dirt from the walls at home.
“And if you are really brave, you can even bring your cat,” she said.