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Ginger & Pippin Take a Bath: Piedmont Ave.‘s New Dog Wash

January 09, 2014

Piedmont Patch

Oakland - Piedmont

"They love taking a shower here," said Cesar Calara Wednesday as he scrubbed his pair of Cairn terriers in one tub at Pet Food Express, 3868 Piedmont Ave., Oakland.

Calara and his wife Vangie, who live about three blocks from the store, have worked out a routine that's now familiar to their terriers, Ginger, 14, and Pippin, 9. (That's Ginger in front in the attached video.)

"They are the same kind of dogs as Toto in The Wizard of Oz," Calara noted as he shampooed first Ginger and then a patient Pippin.

The self-service dog wash is a popular extra at the store, the most recent addition to a local chain of pet supply shops.

For $15, you can freshen up your pooch in a tub that's big enough to accommodate a medium-to-large dog — or, as on Wednesday, two small ones. Frequent dog washers can purchase four dog wash tokens for $11.25 each.

The tiled area at the rear of the store holds several tubs, each dispensing 20 minutes' worth of warm (not hot) water, a choice of shampoos and conditioners, and a doggie-style blow dryer  Short straps that clip to the dog's collar can help keep even reluctant bathers in the tub. The store also supplies two towels and, for owners, a protective bib apron.

The new Pet Food Express outlet opened in November in the former Blockbuster Video building.

"This is definitely a neighborhood store," said staff member Crystal Schwierzke, a veteran of two other Pet Food Express locations before moving to the Piedmont Avenue store.

"We have the same people bringing their dogs in for a treat each night during their walks," she said.

The most popular treats?

"Definitely the stinky stuff, the soft treats, especially for training," Schwierzke said.

In addition to selling pet food (including many organic options) and supplies, the store hosts frequent community veterinary clinics, dog training classes and pet adoption events. No live animals are sold.

By Dixie Jordan

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