Until now cleaning your dog meant bathing it at home or taking it to the groomer.
That was all fine until the age of self serve, do-it-yourself dog washing arrived in Canada via Saanich entrepreneur Evelyn Rutherford.
It started four years ago when the Gordon Head resident adopted Odin, her Bernese Mountain Dog.
“I hadn’t had a dog for years and I started to realize how difficult it was to keep him clean,” she said.
Rutherford was sifting through social media online with an eye for both business opportunities, and dog cleaning suggestions, when she found the answer to both, the K9000. The Australian invention (from 2005) is the equivalent to a doggy wash vending machine. No appointments necessary, you just walk right up, tap your credit card, choose your soap settings (regular shampoo or flea shampoo), open the door and place your dog in the bathing area.
“Once I saw the video of the K9000 on social media I thought, ‘that’s it, that’s what I need,'” Rutherford said. “It’s messy washing the dog at home, this avoids that, and it’s more affordable than a dog groomer.”
So, after 25 years as a management consultant, Rutherford is now in business for herself, as she owns the exclusive rights to distribute the machines in Canada. So far she’s sold 15 with more on the way. There are more than 1,700 installed worldwide.
Two K9000 machines operate in Victoria, one at Rutherford’s Esquimalt shop, the Furever Clean Dog Wash (602b Esquimalt Rd.), and one at the Mr. Pet’s store in Tillicum shopping centre. Mr. Pet’s actually has six of them at stores in B.C. and one in Alberta while Woofy’s pet store has one in Comox with another on the way in Courtenay.
The machines are built to last at least 20 years with high quality parts. It has it’s own “on-board hot water unit” so it only needs access to a 240-volt outlet, cold water and a drain.
“A short haired dog takes about 10 minutes, maybe 12 or up to 14 for dogs with longer hair,” Rutherford said.
She’s found regulars tend to use them on a three week cycle. There’s also no appointments necessary. Her own store is open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Using the K9000 is akin to using a do-it-yourself car wash, with a knob that selects each stage of the wash. In fact, there are K9000s at car washes.
The wash cycle finishes with a blow dry and also – free of charge in the newest machines – a short cleaning stage to ready it for the next customer.
The last stage is key, as many of the machines are in unmanned storefronts, such as Rutherford’s Furever Clean storefront in Esquimalt.
“The doors automatically unlock at 6 a.m. and lock at 11 p.m.,” she said. “I can watch the store through video feed on my phone and monitor the sales at anytime.”
The machine gains increased interest at each pet industry trade show Rutherford attends. Trends from Australia, home state of the K9000, show it is becoming popular to install in pet-friendly condos.