'People can find happiness with their dog': Dirty Dog in Berlin busier than ever after surviving pandemic

Published on Friday, 30 July 2021 09:04
Written by Olivia Marble


BERLIN - Dirty Dog Do It Yourself Pet Wash & Pawstry Shop has been busier than ever after weathering the pandemic.

Like many local businesses, Dirty Dog struggled during the pandemic. They closed for two weeks during the height of the pandemic and operated at limited capacity for months. But now, owner Janet Leito said business is better than ever before.

Leito said she believes the increase in business is because Pet Valu in Newington closed and because more people got pets during the pandemic. According to the APPA National Pet Owners Survey, pet ownership increased in 2020 from 67% of U.S. households to 70%, which is an all-time high.

Leito also believes people are buying more for their dogs as a way to find joy during difficult times.

“Especially in times like covid when people are struggling, people can find happiness with their dog,” Leito said.

Leito got the idea to open Dirty Dog from a conversation with her friends. At the time, Leito had a Rottweiler who was too big to wash at home, so she often brought her dog to a self-service dog wash in Newington. One day, Leito and her friends were talking about self-service dog washes over dinner, and she started to wonder if she could start her own.

“We thought, ‘wouldn’t that be a fun thing to do?’” Leito said.

Dirty Dog opened its doors in 2005, featuring a self-service dog wash, a professional dog grooming service and a pet supply shop.

New Britain residents Janet and Tom Karwoski have been taking their dogs to Dirty Dog’s self-service dog wash for over 10 years. Janet Karwoski said she enjoys coming there because the products are easy to use.

“It’s just so convenient. Janet does a good job,” Janet Karwoski said.

Dirty Dog also has a “pawstry shop.” Leito’s father, Larry Reeser, retired around the same time Dirty Dog opened and has been the baker there ever since. He bakes cookies and customizable dog birthday cakes.

“We do doggy birthday cakes that are like big bone cakes for when someone’s having a big party and other dogs are coming,” Leito said. “We do individual birthday cakes as well, which are like a large muffin sized cake with their dog’s name on it. We’ve done doggy daycare parties, with little mini cupcakes that all the dogs will get at a doggy daycare facility.”

To learn more, visit dirtydogllc.com or call 860-829-9274.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Friday, 30 July 2021 09:04. Updated: Friday, 30 July 2021 09:07.