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‘Best Buddy’ business is labor of love for local couple

  • Written by Lisa Allen, Valley View Editor
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Best Buddy Dog Wash owner Debby Zuber offers a treat to Pete, a regular customer. Pete is a member of the Matt and Melissa Pilla family of Woodinville. Lisa Allen/Staff photo
DUVALL–Angel relaxes as comforting hands gently ease her from the back of the van to the pavement. Moments later the elderly German shepherd sits blissfully in a tub as her thick undercoat is combed out.

“I have always loved dogs and have spent my life with them,” explained Debby Zuber, who was doing the combing. “But it was pure chance we are in this business.”

The small dog wash business on Duvall’s Main Street was for sale when Debby, working as a volunteer for Homeward Pet in Woodinville, brought in a dog to be bathed.

“The owner asked me if I would be interested,” she said, smiling as she recalled the moment. “And now we are celebrating our second anniversary here.”

Under Debby’s watch, Best Buddy Dog Wash not only grew, but thrived. It wasn’t long before husband Jeff concluded he was needed at the shop full-time, so he quit his job to focus on expanding the business and doing the necessary purchasing. He eventually bought a van for pick-up and delivery of their four-footed clients.

While Debby focuses on the one-to-one dog care (she is close to taking the exam for therapeutic massage), Jeff works on the marketing side of the business, which includes developing relationships with other businesses in town.

“Coupons for other local businesses are attached to the small bags of free doggie treats we place around town,” said Jeff, who is also well-known locally for his affiliation with Cascade Community Theatre. “Debby is the dog expert. Where I come into play is the marketing; sometimes I spend all night on the Internet looking for interesting things to put in the store. Last June we started the pick-up and delivery; we talk to trainers and get the items they need for their classes.”

The business has four large wash tubs and offers full service, along with do-it-yourself. A rack is available for small dogs. Full service includes a bath, mat removal and toenails trimmed. The cost is $40 for a medium to large dog. The charge is $20 if a customer does the bathing. Many clients take advantage of the dog pick-up and delivery service, which is $5 each way. The shop is open Wednesday through Sunday and a groomer is available on certain days.

The store carries plenty of dog-related items except for food, due to lack of space. Debby and Jeff make an extra effort to buy merchandise from the local area.

“We carry dog treats made in Marysville and Chehalis, and organic shampoo from Seattle,” Debby said. “Our priority is ‘Made in the U.S.A.’  We want our customers to not worry about the manufacturers and offer a 100 percent guarantee.”

Debby noted that people have begun to look to them as a dog-related resource for things they need, including training classes. “We keep track of trainers and help people find specialized items,” she said.

“We have a good relationship with our clients,” says Debby. “Our philosophy is to be flexible where our customers are concerned. If someone is knocking at the door at 5 p.m. with a dog that has just rolled in something, we accommodate them. That can be considered a bit of an emergency. We are close to the trail, and often dogs get muddy or dirty or find something to roll in.

“What we never really anticipated was the ‘happiness factor.’ People find they really need this place if their dog is dirty. That makes it worthwhile.

“People also bring their kids in so they can be involved – we have little aprons and stools for them so they can help. Happy customers are what are important to us.”

And they still volunteer at Homeward Pet.

“Jeff picks up the dogs from the shelter,” says Debby, “so they can be clean and groomed and therefore more adoptable.”

For information, call (425) 788-7700 or visit bestbuddydogwash.com.

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