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Dog washes make splash

Maureen Lafferty is anti-fur. Anti-fur in her tub. Anti-fur on her towels. And anti-fur in the drain.

That's why she and the one big ball of fur she does love, Jackson, a yellow Labrador retriever, are patrons of the Portland Dog Wash.

"This is why I don't do this at home," Lafferty said, pointing to big clumps of fur at the bottom of the stainless steel basin.

In a country whose residents spare no expense on their pets, self-service dog washes represent another splurge, allowing dog owners to forgo the indignity of chasing a wet and soapy dog around the house, or across the lawn, along with the messy cleanup.

The trend kicked off more than a decade ago. Now it seems that just about every sizable city has at least one.

In Portland, Mark and Greg Goodwin got the idea after hearing from a friend about a dog wash in the Baltimore area. "We just dove into it," Mark said.

Their business features waist-high tubs with all the accessories close by - combs, shampoos, conditioner, perfumes, towels, hair dryer. There are eye wipes and ear wipes and even dental wipes with a minty scent.

It's a simple concept. Customers are willing to pay from $8 to $16 - based on the size of the dog - to let the Goodwins sweat the details.

Although some might consider it a splurge, it's far less expensive than taking a dog to a professional groomer.

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