SOHO — Brian Corby never liked taking his Labrador retriever to a groomer, but found that living in a Harbour Island townhouse made it hard to find a convenient spot to give her a bath.
He envisioned taking her to something like a self-service dog wash so he wouldn't have to use his tub — and his towels — at home. Such places are more common in colder climates, but there weren't any locally.
The idea stayed with him even after he moved out of the townhouse and his beloved dog, Presley, passed away. After a couple of years of planning, Corby's Green Dog Wash made its debut last month in the bustling, dog-friendly SoHo neighborhood, complete with six self-service washing stations, all-natural shampoos and stacks of fresh towels.
The prominent Whaley's Plaza space at 533 S Howard Ave. has most recently been Charlie's Wine Cellar, followed briefly by Green Fish Greetings (before it became Nicholson House and moved to a bigger space a few doors down).
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The switch from Green Fish to Green Dog was entirely coincidental. For months, Corby had planned to open his dog wash in a new building being constructed on MacDill Avenue just south of Kennedy Boulevard. But the project has been delayed, and Corby said he made a quick change of plans as soon as he realized the former Green Fish space was available.
Whaley's Plaza, which sits in the middle of a SoHo neighborhood packed with townhouses and condos, is ideal for people who "have dogs but don't have the facility to (bathe them) outside," Corby said.
His aim is to make it not just an Earth-friendly environment but a social one, where owners can catch a football game while their dogs visit with other members of the neighborhood's four-legged set. (Corby's 2-year-old Lab, Seven, is part of the welcoming committee.)
Green Dog created its own brand of cleansers, dubbed ShamPooch, which are made of natural ingredients such as aloe and scented with essential oils. Each washing station has a stainless steel tub with ramps available for the heavy or hard-to-coax dogs.
The quirkiest feature is the special hair strainers that collect dog hair flowing toward the drain. The hair is bagged and shipped to San Francisco-based Matter of Trust, which uses donated hair — from people and pets — to make densely woven mats that are used to pick up petroleum spills.
"It's absolutely amazing how much hair we collect," Corby said.
Dog wash services start at $12 for the use of the tub, towels, shampoo and eye and ear wipes. Prices go up to $22 for extras like the use of a de-shedding tool, nail filer and a tooth cleaning kit.
Green Dog also offers limited full-service grooming, mostly by appointment, and sells toys and all-natural dog food. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 to 8 on Saturday and 9 to 4 on Sunday. The dog wash is closed Tuesdays but grooming is available.
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