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Workin' at the dog wash

Amanda Vaughan
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Commercial Carpet and Ceiling Cleaning in the Kam Lake industrial area has branched out into a new type of cleaning aimed at the city's four-legged residents.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Jacqueline Lambert stands beside the PetSpa, a dog washer which just arrived at Commercial Carpet and Ceiling Cleaning in the Kam Lake industrial park. - Amanda Vaughan/NNSL photo

The business has always washed your carpets, ceilings, furniture, cars or blinds, and now they will wash your dog, too.

It has just finished installing the city's first PetSpa, which is a completely enclosed washing cabin for dogs, or if you are really brave, the occasional cat.

"I kinda want someone to try a cat," said Ricky Boucher, who runs his electrical company, Northern Lights and Chandeliers, out of space he rents from Commercial Carpet. He installed the PetSpa for the cleaning firm, and after putting the machine together, he is eager to see it put to all the different applications possible.

"We are still fine-tuning the settings on it," he said. Yellowknifer brought a test subject to run in the machine, a good natured chocolate lab named Ty.

The machine looks a bit like an oversized front loading washer, and has a control panel in the top right corner, allowing the user to select the size and coat type of the dog they are about to wash.

The settings determine how long the wash, rinse and dry cycles last, and control the optional conditioning cycles for customers looking for extra grooming.

Owner of Commercial Carpet, Jacqueline Lambert, said the device will catch on in town pretty well.

"We figured there are a lot of dogs in Yellowknife, so we brought it in," said Lambert.

Boucher said he first heard about the PetSpa on the Internet, which is also how he contacted the Miami-based company to help Lambert purchase one.

Lambert declined to mention how much the PetSpa cost, but did say it was "very expensive."

The cost to use the machine is reasonable, especially if you're a frustrated pet owner who is having trouble giving a reluctant pooch a bath. And Yellowknife's first PetSpa will soon be completely automated.

"We are going to have it automated, so customers can use it themselves," said Lambert.

Boucher added that they also planned on installing a vending machine beside the washer to sell treats, dental cleaning supplies for dogs and extra drying towels for dogs that have stubborn wet patches after the dry cycle.

For the moment, however, the equipment for this change has yet to be delivered, so customers are still getting the assistance of staff on site, and a complimentary biscuit for dogs that find the washer a little frightening at first.

"We always keep a pail of treats out here," Lambert said.

Boucher and Lambert both said that the machine doesn't usually end up being that scary for dogs.

"The dogs are usually fine," she said. "It's usually the owners that have trouble," she added, making reference to owners having to put their "babies" into a strange machine and watch them through the window.

Ty the test subject sat still throughout most of the wash, behaving well even when the splashing spray made only his pink nose visible against the window. He got a little antsy near the end of the 10-minute drying cycle, but stayed to the end without too much trouble. He came out smelling fantastic and feeling very smooth.

"It uses all organic soaps," said Boucher, who also mentioned the PetSpa has a few safety features to put owners minds to rest.

"The machine stops if you open the door at any point in the cycle," he said. He also said the machine carefully regulates the temperature of the water and air dry, and at the end of the dry, brings the air temperature inside the machine to the same temperature as the outside to prevent jarring transitions.

"And if it's too cold or hot outside the machine, it just won't run," he said.

Commercial Carpet has the machine outside its carwash bays at the moment, but plans are in the works to move it inside the warehouse during the winter, so it can be used year round.