The Capital of Annapolis

SEVERNA PARK, Md. (AP) — Marmie Ziglar has given up washing her dog on her own, especially since it calls for an apron and an hour of her time.

Getting covered in water and fur isn’t all that appealing to the Severna Park resident. Instead, Ziglar makes monthly trips with her dog, Becker, to a Severna Park shop that offers dog washes and coffee, making her part of the multibillion dollar pet product industry.

“I like to drink coffee, and I like for somebody else to wash my 120-pound dog,” said Ziglar, who pays $38 for the Fluff & Buff at Mutt + Joe.

Last year, pet owners spent $51 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. That figure is expected to rise to $53 billion in 2012. The top three expenditures are for food, supplies and medicine and veterinarian care. Pet services, such as grooming and boarding, accounted for $3.8 billion of 2011 sales.

In Annapolis, Michelle Ullrich-Kownacki operates Paws pet boutique, which has been open since 1999. Pet owners’ favorite items there have been treats, dog collars and bowls. But there also are those who get birthday cakes and birthday bones for dogs.

“To me, nothing is too unusual,” Ullrich-Kownacki said. “Your fur family is part of your family. It’s that unconditional love they give you every day. They make you stop and breathe in the air.”

Severna Park’s Mutt + Joe debuted in September 2010 and has an estimated 1,600 dog customers. Located off Benfield Road, half of the 1,400-square-foot shop is devoted to espressos, frappes, smoothies and other human treats.

The other side is for dog owners seeking services such as the Fluff & Buff — a wash, condition and blow dry — and the Save & Bathe, where owners are provided the supplies so they can wash their own dogs. Prices are based on the dog’s weight. A basic wash costs $29 for dogs less than 20 pounds, and goes up to $38 for those that weigh more than 100 pounds.

Mutt + Joe has 10 employees, along with the shop dog, Paisley. Workers are trained to work the dog wash, coffee shop or both. The dogs are kept in the pet-friendly portion of the store. Tables and chairs are set up in that area, so owners can drink their coffee as they wait.

For the most part, the dogs are well-behaved.

“We get one out of a few that don’t like a blow dry,” said Jennifer Stevens, a groomer who provides services there a few days a week. “They’re very happy when they come in and they’re happy when they leave.”

Andy Smull got the idea for Mutt + Joe from a friend — named Joe — who mentioned seeing a dog wash and coffee business in North Carolina. At the time, she was enrolled in a graduate program at George Washington University and hoping to become a grief counselor on the loss of pets. But once she launched Mutt + Joe, it took up all of her time.

Now, Smull and her staff know the dogs’ names better than their owners’. They participate in animal-related causes and make donations to the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. Smull, a 64-year-old Annapolis resident, has four dogs of her own — Tank, Arbus, Achilles and Miss Pea. “I was ready for a career move, I jumped in with four feet, and it is so much fun,” she said. “The wonderful thing about Severna Park is the amount of dogs here. (The residents) have lots and lots of dogs.”

When Debbie Legare got her Australian shepherd, she visited several places before she met Smull and learned about Mutt + Joe. Now she brings Duchess in for regular grooming services, which sometimes come to about $60 a month.

“When you have a pet, and put in the expense of having a pet, you take care of it,” said Legare, a Millersville resident. “That’s a commitment we made, and we made it part of our budget… Pets have more feelings than we give them credit for.”

Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md.,

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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