Dogs may be dirty, but mobile wash is ‘clean ‘n’ green’
For dogs, freedom often comes with a price.
Mud. Lake water. Unidentified slime — that smells suspiciously like a dead opossum.
For pet owners who don’t want those dog-park remnants clambering into their car and coming home with them, Shawnee resident and entrepreneur Linda Toombs has an eco-friendly solution.
Toombs recently hit the streets with Bubbles 2 KC Mobile Dog Wash, a self-contained, solar-assisted dog washing station.
Most days, Toombs sets up shop for a couple of hours at the 53-acre Shawnee Mission Park Dog Off-Leash Area. She also tows the unit to special events around the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Unleashed dogs love to roll in the dirt and “other disgusting things,” Toombs said. “We like to get rid of that smell and give them a clean smell to go home with.”
Toombs, who formerly worked in landscape design, started Go, Dog…! Pet Care Services about three years ago. She purchased her dog-washing unit this spring.
As a business owner, Toombs wanted an income source to fill time gaps between dog walking and pet sitting appointments. As a dog owner, she wanted to provide a service she knew other people like her could use.
“I’m always looking for ways to make pet ownership easier,” Toombs said.
Toombs’ Bubbles 2 KC is only the second Bubbles Mobile Dog Wash unit in the country, hence the name. Floridian Larry Kelly invented and built the first unit, and is using it to wash dogs in Sarasota.
“I anticipate many more, and hope these clean ’n’ green systems will be a standard for dog parks in every state,” Kelly said.
Toombs said she liked what he was doing and called him to ask if he could build another one for her.
Her unit, which she tows behind her SUV, has one dog-washing station on each side. Ramps and canopies unfold to usher dogs up to the bays and shade them during their baths.
The water is self-contained — tanks inside the trailer bring in fresh water and cart out dirty water. Solar panels on top of the unit warm the clean water, when needed, and power a generator, which runs the pumps that pressurize clean water and drain used water.
During a recent special event for S.A.S.S.Y. — Saving Animals by Supportive Seniors and Others Young-at-heart — Toombs set up shop outside Whole Foods Market, 7401 W. 91st St. in Overland Park.
It wasn’t long after Thumper, a 4-year-old collie-beagle mix from Mission Hills, walked up the Bubbles 2 KC ramp that fresh botanical scents overpowered her wet-dog smell.
Toombs uses all-natural, phosphate- and alcohol-free soap and conditioner, made with oatmeal and jojoba oil for cleansing and cucumber and yucca extract for conditioning.
“It’s really good for their skin, and their fur gets so soft,” Toombs said. “I call it cuddle-ready.”
Toombs said she’s washed dogs of all shapes and sizes in the unit, even a Great Dane. The occasional ramp-fearing or physically disabled dog can still get a bath on the ground, thanks to the unit’s flexible water and soap hoses.
Toombs charges $15 for a wash, or $10 for people to wash their own dogs.
At Shawnee Mission Park, Toombs operates under a vendor agreement with the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.
Bill Maasen, superintendent of parks and golf courses, said Toombs found a unique niche.
“We thought it was a good community service,” he said. “I think it’s a service that’s needed.”
Maasen said the unit’s self-contained water source and solar panels also appealed to the park board.
“There’s a lot of green things about it that were very attractive,” he said.
Contact Bubbles 2 KC Mobile Dog Wash at (913) 378-8857 or online at bubbles2kcmobiledogwash.com.
By Sara Shepard