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October 6, 2015

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Dog-washing business marks 5 years in Henderson

The Soggy Dog, which offers do-it-yourself dog bathing, a success despite recession


Paul Takahashi

Henderson resident Shane Splinter, 35, washes his 4-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Journey, at The Soggy Dog in Henderson on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011.

The Soggy Dog Fifth Year Anniversary

The Soggy Dog in Henderson is one of the first do-it-yourself dog wash stores in the Las Vegas Valley. The pet supply store and self-serve dog wash, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary, has elevated tubs and air dryers that makes the often-loathed task of bathing one dog easier and more convenient.

The Soggy Dog

Jackson, a 2-year-old pound puppy is being washed by Henderson resident Judy Kir, 55, at The Soggy Dog on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. Launch slideshow »

The Soggy Dog

Beyond the Sun

Gloria Anderson used to dread washing her dog, Felix.

Wrestling Felix, a bull terrier, into the bathtub at home, lathering and bathing him was a back-aching, knee-scraping ordeal that used to take hours to complete.

“It was such a nightmare to bathe him at home,” the Henderson resident said of her 13-year-old dog. “He used to get bathed at the vet, that’s how bad it was.”

That is until two years ago, when Anderson found out about The Soggy Dog, a self-serve "dog wash" in Henderson. Now, the once-loathed chore has become somewhat of a fun experience, albeit, perhaps not so much for Felix.

“This is a lot easier,” Anderson, 48, said, scanning the elevated bathtubs and special air-dryers. “I wouldn’t go anywhere else. This is the best place to wash my dogs.”

The Soggy Dog, 1450 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Despite getting its start just before the Great Recession began, the do-it-yourself dog wash and pet supply store has flourished, capitalizing on a niche in the Las Vegas Valley: dog owners.

California transplant Tracy Bosler, 43, founded The Soggy Dog in December 2005 after finding a similar store in San Diego. Fascinated by the idea, the Henderson resident — and proud owner of four Shetland sheepdogs — opened one of the first self-serve dog-wash stores in the Las Vegas Valley.

Less than a year later, the economy started to tank. Small businesses across the country began feeling the squeeze. Despite the worrisome climate, Bosler made the decision to expand her business, adding aisles of dog foods, treats and toys to her dog wash.

“When I look around, I can’t believe we’ve come this far,” she said. “Most people aren’t cutting back on dogs; they’re like their kids.”

An average of 60 to 70 dogs stop by The Soggy Dog each Saturday and Sunday, with some owners driving half an hour or more from Summerlin or elsewhere in the valley.

For a flat fee of $15, dog lovers can lather their pets with one of 13 shampoos and conditioners, wash them in the elevated bathtub and dry them using one of three different dryers: hand-held, air and a special cage dryer.

And the dog wash is not just for the canine species: The Soggy Dog has seen a few cats, a bunny rabbit and even a pot-bellied pig come through its doors.

“We take them all for self-wash,” said co-owner Vera Leake, 46. “But, we’re not only known for the wash. We carry everything from dog food, cat food, supplements, treats, toys, oral care products, collars, leashes… just about anything you would want and need for your pets.”

Bosler and Leake each put in about 80 hours a week running their store: re-stocking the shelves, sweeping up dog hair and washing up to eight loads of towels a day.

“We’re glorified janitors,” Leake said, laughing. “It’s a lot of work cleaning up all day after the dogs, but it’s a lot of fun.

“It’s nice to be part of the (dog) community and do something that we love and enjoy,” Leake said. “There aren’t many people who can do that or say that.”

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