By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
It was the best of times and the worst of times to open a do-it-yourself dog washing business, but the month-old Shangri-Paw LLC in Harker Heights is off to a good start.
It was the worst of times in the early startup phases last year because David Tribby, just out of the Army, and his wife, Danielle, had to look for loans while the recession was in full swing and money was tight. So they had to rely on their own money and a little help from family.
It was the best of times because that same recession was discouraging many people from most commercial pet care except for veterinary services and boarding, and the Tribbys offer a chance for owners to wash any compliant animal under 300 pounds for a small fraction of what a full-service wash-and-groom facility would charge.
Jose and Evelyn Calzada had brought in their 7-month-old Rottweiler named Deuce, who seemed to enjoy the adventure.
"We'd have to pay as much as $100 to have someone else do it somewhere else," Jose said.
Thomas Poindexter and his sister Tracie Kitchens brought in a pit bull named Fred, a Yorkie named Pasha and a Shih Tzu named Wicket.
David Tribby said Wicket was the facility's first customer. Tiny Pasha pushed the envelope on the rules of conduct by shrieking at Deuce and Fred, who roared back at her, but she cooled down considerably when the soap and water applied by Kitchens made her look half her size.
Owners are asked to call ahead about any animals that might be a problem beyond the momentary snap and snarl so that they can be confined and acclimatized before they're exposed to other animals.
The Tribbys supply elevated tubs, heavy aprons, brushes, hoses and a choice of soaps applied with a seltzer effect to maximize cleaning. Most soaps are scented, but the selection includes a hypoallergenic unscented product.
Also in the deal is a blow-dry hose, which David explained blows cool air because hot air from a human hair-dryer can injure a dog, sometimes fatally, because its coat can't get rid of the heat.
The washing facility is the first of several services soon to be offered, including self-service and professional grooming and boarding.
The boarding facility, still under construction in the back of the building, will take up most of the space in the 30-year-old metal building that used to be a commercial garment manufacturing plant.
The day care and boarding, which will become the core of the business, will be open only to dogs.
"We opened the washing area first because it's in front, next to the reception area, and we had to get that finished first," David said. "I'm using the best materials, and I consult with a veterinary dermatologist, but the only things I haven't done myself are the plumbing and electrical work because they require licensing."
David, a former Army officer with the 1st Cavalry Division, said he left active duty when two of three slots open in the immediate future involved a return to the Middle East, where he had already been, and the other was a recruiting command. Now a major, he is the chemical officer in reserve status at Camp Mabry in Austin.
He got the idea for a self-service dog wash from a company in Washington state and believed there was a market in the Fort Hood area. He and Danielle are both longtime dog owners.
"I'm looking forward to the day we get a small Shetland pony in here," he said.
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.