An Oak Cliff corner store with a fire hydrant out front is rebranding as Bruno’s Place, a do-it-yourself dog wash.
Despite layers of dust on the showroom floor and an absent ceiling tile overhead signaling the work that lies ahead, co-owner Rochelle McKown says she envisions a February grand opening at the 1019 W. Davis St. location.
McKown, who is bankrolling the family business, along with her husband, Jimmy, says the future canine cleaner will honor a beloved, former family pet. Bruno was a beautiful Saint Bernard and German shepherd mix that would follow McKown’s mother around during her walks at a family vacation spot in Colorado.
“At first, she would throw rocks at [Bruno] because he was so big, and she was afraid,” McKown says. “Then, my dad said ‘That dog is not stalking you. I think he is protecting you while you walk.’”
Bruno soon became a friend of the family and would hang out at their vacation home. McKown says everyone loved their furry friend so much that Bruno’s owner eventually told the family they could keep him.
“So we brought him back to Texas,” she says.
Bruno roamed free on six acres in DeSoto where he loved the horses and the local children who McKown says would drop in to ask if Bruno could come and play.
“We were known as Bruno’s family,” she says.
Daughter Mallory McKown, who will manage Bruno’s Place, says neighbors would sometimes try to keep Bruno for themselves, causing her to have to jump on her bike and ride around the neighborhood and unlatch a gate somewhere to retrieve him. Mallory wants to have a mural of Bruno’s likeness painted on the outside of the building.
“I just feel like Bruno is blessing us,” she says.
The family says they have noticed lots of pet-friendly businesses in the area and believe that a self-service dog wash is needed. Bruno’s Place will not be a groomer, they say, but rather a place that provides professional grade dog washing stations and dryers as well as towels and all the supplies needed for a squeaky clean pooch.
“They’re having to drive into Dallas and North Dallas for the same services,” Mallory says.
Before returning to Texas a few years ago, Mallory and her spouse, Kellie, had used DIY dog washes in California pet stores, which they say were plentiful because living quarters there sometimes had scant yards or no bathtubs. Kellie pointed out the convenience of not having a wet couch or a big mess afterward.
That’s just a few of the reasons people might choose to spend 15 or 20 bucks at a self-service dog wash instead of doing it themselves at home, Rochelle says. Another plus is that “you don’t have to go buy all that stuff and keep it in your house.”
A DIY dog wash also means a much shorter process, no sore knees and no bathtubs to clean, they say.
Kellie has also noticed an onslaught of new high-rises coming up that could translate into dog wash dollars, she says. However, the family insists the focus is not all about clean dogs and money. They’re also interested in building a sense of community.
“I love dogs. And I love people. And I need a calling,” Mallory says.
Mallory has plans for a monthly newsletter as well as a lost pet news board. And while it’s still early in the game, Rochelle says a few other options would be to turn the outdoor covered area into a deck with propane heaters and benches where pets and their people can socialize.
In addition to its regular, auto-temperature controlled, dog washing stations, a separate room will welcome pets in need of flea treatments or those who take an anti-social stance.
Rochelle, a self-described “crazy dog lady,” says people who bring in more than one pet will get a price break.
The family owns seven dogs collectively, but Mallory says they are not “anti-cats.” Cats will also be welcomed at the establishment.
“Cats add a dimension to life,” Rochelle says. “Dogs just love you unconditionally,” she added, noting that felines may need to take their bath in the anti-social room while visiting.
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