When your Dog jumps in a puddle, slides in some mud or rolls around on the grass, where do you take your furry companion for a bath and grooming? If you want to avoid a hairy disaster and clogged bathtub, skip the mess at home and consider a dog care location that offers baths and grooming.
Keeping your dog smelling fresh and clean can be a real struggle. So we got some tips from Amanda Lattanzio. She’s the owner and manager of the Muddy Mutt, the place to bring your dog for a bath and grooming.
So the Muddy Mutt is a great name for your business. How did you come up with that name?
To be honest, I can’t say that I actually came up with the name. The business has been around for 11 years and I just so happened to buy into it last year. But it’s kind of self-explanatory, we are right next to a dog park, so we do get a lot of muddy mutts coming through the door. You want to bring your dog somewhere if they’re dirty or if they’re muddy. So it’s kind of the whole just behind them to the Muddy Mutt.
What inspired you to get into the dog washing and the grooming business?
Yeah, so I grew up with a lot of animals. My family and I had birds getting cancers with fixed horses, cats, and of course we had lots of dogs. I kind of grew up in the country, so we kinda had space for all that. But I didn’t always know I wanted to do this. I started off with a degree from communications in communications, from university of Maryland. Did kind of PR marketing and realized that corporate life wasn’t for me. And then I wanted to get out of it, but start kind of a new venture. My parents I’m so blessed with parents that are super supportive of anything I do. And they were like, you want to do this? You got to show us, you can do it. And I did. So they helped me with this and that’s why we’re here now. And of course, you know, my love for dogs and my love for any kind of animal. I’m the one on, you know, my husband and I are out on a date. I’m looking at all the dogs, so I he’s just like, Hey, we’re here. So it’s, I’m the one that hangs out with dogs at parties and all that kind of stuff.
How often should I really be bringing my dog for a bath and grooming to make sure that he’s healthy and clean? Is there some sort of best practice?
So it really depends on the breed of dog and honestly, kind of what your living situation is like. Generally speaking, it’s you should your dog like fully with shampoo, everything, nail trim, all that kind of stuff. Every four to six weeks, even the nail trims you can do every two weeks. Now if we’re talking about like the doodles and the longer hair dogs, that’s a little bit more of a rigorous process and that goes for, at home grooming and with us. So it truly just depends on the dog. And honestly, if you ever walk into our shop, we’ll be glad to sit down and kind of talk to you about how often you should be bathing your dog. There is a, you know, a detriment to bathe your dog too much dry out their skin. So we can definitely talk to you about, you know, what should the schedule look like?
One of your services is an “anal gland expression” – when does a dog need this service?
Not fun for us either. So if you ever see your dogs, scooting its butt on the ground or licking their rear and then the other kind of gross part of that is they can honestly leak on you. This is also really gross, but if it smells like dead fish, normally times take your dog into either see us or to the vet to get the glands checked out. We do external gland expression. The vet does internal. So dogs like Bulldogs, boxers, sometimes pit bulls, any dogs with a short tail potentially might need internal expression. But we can also try we are the place that people go because their dog can’t get it down anywhere else. So you want to come in and we can check the glands and we’ll let you know what happens.
Is that something that just happens on a certain timeframe? Yeah, you’ll notice it sometimes it’s seasonal sometimes the the dogs, when the seasons change, they have an issue. Normally when a dog goes number two is when they kind of express the glands on their own. My dog for instance, is a bulldog. He has a hard time with that. So I probably do is, once or twice a month. But I can start to tell the signs. So it’s just kind of, you know, you’ll get to realize once the first time we do it, you’ll realize what happens next, because then once you start doing the glands, you can’t actually stop. So yeah. So if your dog has never had it done before, don’t start it.
What makes your place in terms of grooming and bathing unique in comparison to others?
Think first and foremost is the fact that we’re right next to Shirlington Dog Park. I think it is the biggest dog park in the area, if not all in Virginia. So that’s kind of the biggest one. And honestly, because I’ve hired the people that work there, I can honestly say that we all love all the dogs that come through the door. And then the biggest thing for us is we’re the place that complicated dogs come. We have a groomer that deals with very aggressive dogs that have to be groomed. We have people that come in and they’ve told us that they can’t get their nails trimmed anywhere else. And we’re the only place that they have left and we get it done. So for us, it’s, you know, it’s the health and hygiene of the animal. And that goes for everybody that works there. That’s honestly what we care about. If you bring us a dog that’s mad at you can’t afford to get a groom, we’ll do it for free. So we honestly care about each and every dog that comes through the door. So it’s, it’s a, it’s a great place to work.
You must have some great stories about dirty dogs and their adventures at the Muddy Mutt? Can you share one or two of your favorites.
We actually just recently had one, a little Pitbull mix was coming out and she found the only puddle in the park and laid down. I want to say her entire body into the puddle. She had mud from her eyelids back to the tip of tail, and my assistant manager. And I looked at each other like, Oh my gosh, there was mud footprints everywhere. The mom was so apologetic. And we said, it’s okay. It’s why we’re here. She left clean, which is the best part. So, we’ve had some, I mean every day is a new day working at the Muddy Mutt, but some days we can’t believe that that actual white golden retriever is actually white, because they just came from the park. So it’s, it’s fun. It’s, some dogs you think are one breed and they leave looking like another breed because you think they’re covered, they’re covered in mud when they walk in. So it’s, it’s quite fun.
Are there certain dog breeds, sizes or personalities that tend to be harder to wash or groom?
To be honest. No. The biggest factor is if they’re trained now of course we have the puppies that you can’t, you know, if all these COVID puppies are quarantine puppies, everybody’s just like, you’re washing my dog. So the biggest thing for us is if they’ve had any kind of training it helps us we deal with a 110 pound Bernese mountain dogs, but then we also deal with, you know, the two pound Yorkie that just wants to attack your hands. So if the dog has been exposed to this kind of life where they’re, you know, being bathed, being touched regularly, being, you know, going through the training classes, it makes our lives so much easier. Half the time when we, you know, when somebody picks up their dog, we tell them, we’re like, touch your dog, touch their feet, touch their face because that’s what we’re going to be doing. So it doesn’t really, I, we can sit there and handle 110 pound great Dane or 110 pound Bernese, just as much as we can, a small little Yorkie. So it honestly just boils down to how they’re trained.
How has COVID impacted your business?
So we’ve been open this whole time. We just have kind of been going with the phases as governor Northrup has been telling us, so we stayed open, but we did curbside pickup and drop-off only we did payment over the phone. Nobody was allowed into our shop. The only time you were. So prior to us needing masks, I believe this is what happened. We were allowed to stay open and people were still able to come in and then the mask mandate happened. So people were still allowed to come in, but everything was by appointment only. We were only allowing one or two people in for the self-wash. At that point we were only allowing like one person. So if you had an appointment, you were allotted a certain amount of time. And then as the phases kind of grew, you know, to being more open, we started kind of surviving by that, time Shirlington Dog Park was open. We opened fully, but if you want to come into our shop, now you have to wear a mask. It’s just part of the process. To be honest, we haven’t really noticed a huge impact. It’s kind of been better for us. Um, did get a PPP loans, so everything’s kind of just worked out great. Everybody was showing up to their appointments. People were being very generous with their tips, you definitely get to see the community kind of rallying around the small businesses. And we’ve definitely seen that.
Looks like you have recently updated the look and feel of your store…can you tell us a little bit about what changes you made?
Yeah. when I first bought the place, it kind of didn’t really have a direction for where it was going. Any kind of future endeavors the shop wanted to do it. It’s almost impossible because the logo is so dated. Just kind of, not with the time. So I come, like I said, from a communications and marketing background. So my background is in kind of in design Adobe graphic design and stuff like that. So I kind of took it and ran with it. And this will hopefully, you know, with all our future endeavors that we want to do, kind of set us up for just we, you know, so many more opportunities for us. It’s definitely a one with the times logo. We’re trying to make it more, appealing to the eye and not so rugged. So we still will always have that rugged side because we are next to the Shirlington Dog park, but we definitely also want to speak to that, you know, person that comes in that really wants that really organic treat or really wants that, you know, properly made leash or, you know, whatever. So all of the stuff we have in our shop, we can eat if we ever wanted to and that’s just kind of the way that we’re going with the shop right now.
What are your plans for The Muddy Mutt in the future?
So recently, you know, I’ve been thinking about the future of the Muddy Mutt and where we’re going to go with that. The biggest thing for me is rent in Arlington is not cheap. So what we’re kind of getting around that is with mobile grooming and getting a van that will have the Muddy Mutt on it. The other thing we’re also thinking about adding is Muddy Mutt dog walking. That might be a little bit less in the future. I know there’s a lot of people that actually come to our shop that have their own dog walking services. So the forefront right now is mobile grooming. And then of course, continuing to fix up the Mutt. I’m hoping to get new sign up front that matches our logo right now, and then just kind of fixing up stuff in our green room and stuff like that. Further down the road, possibly another location. It would just have to be very strategic about where we get our next location.
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