We are so proud of our dog wash!

If you have a pet, then The Pet Works in Astoria has just what you need. The store boasts supplies from standard to exotic, helping pets of all kinds – from cats to tarantulas and puppies to hedgehogs – stay happy and healthy.

“If we don’t have it, we’ll get it,” Nick Thompson, The Pet Works longtime manager proclaims. He has been with the company for 12 years, coming from Longview daily to serve Astorian pet needs. Although Nick doesn’t have pets of his own, his responsibilities at The Pet Works have taught him a lot. He started at The Pet Works parent store in Longview in 2005.

The Pet Works is on 14th Street, conveniently located right off the Astoria Riverwalk for pups on a walk. Photo credit: Emily Townsend

The original location opened its doors 43 years ago, when Joan and Ron Works purchased the store along with George, a pet monkey whose fame helped make The Pet Works a success. Astoria, Longview and a third branch in Olympia are now owned by Rebecca and Eric Smith. The original owners sold the Longview location to the couple in 1994, and they expanded, bringing their services to Clatsop County.

But what kept the business alive, was its dedication to customer service. The Astoria branch was opened in 2008 on Marine Drive, and Nick was brought down as manager.

The Astoria store doesn’t have a monkey to entice their customers, but there are scaly and furry friends to visit. The store has saltwater and freshwater tanks that hold fish of all kinds, from clownfish to Picasso Triggerfish – named for their peculiar painted scales. These are Nick’s pet of choice. He is a self-proclaimed “ocean child” and is interested in the daily life of ocean animals. Observation of their behavior draws him in. “You know what a dog or cat does all day,” Nick says. “But what does a starfish or a shrimp do? They are different creatures.”

Bathing Stations Make Pet Owners’ Lives Easier

Lily, a blue heeler from Astoria, is definitely part of the “98%” who isn’t fond of a bath, but the tubs and tethers at The Pet Works make it easier to get the job done quickly and comfortably for her. Photo credit: Emily Townsend

Astoria’s rainy and cool climate can make washing your family’s furry friend tricky, so many locals come to The Pet Works for their self-service monthly wash. Seasonal beach vacationers also frequent the store. When their dog is off leash and “rolls in the first corpse they see – Dungeness crab or sea lion – we are a convenient stopping point before the drive home,” says Nick.

The perks of the pet wash are many – for just $15 they have all the supplies you need, and you avoid the headaches of home bathing. “The pet owner is destroyed and the bathroom is destroyed,” Nick explains. After the hair, soap suds and obligatory shake, you have a mess. It’s clear bathrooms aren’t designed for it, but The Pet Works is with four tubs that feature stair entry to ease your back and a variety of washing and grooming tools available and a walk-up drying station. The tubs have cedar flooring which is light and easy to clean under, not that you’ll have to, plus its anti-slip. “It is safe for dogs,” he adds.

A dog’s shake is easily contained by the steel tub, keeping you drier. Photo credit: Emily Townsend

Another safety feature are the tethers in the sink, which attach to your dog’s collar to keep him in one place. “This lets you use both hands,” Nick explains. This is key when your pup is not interested in a bath. “About 2 percent of pets voluntarily walk up the stairs and stand,” he adds. For the remaining 98 percent, these attachments are invaluable. So, no clean up, your dog has to stay put, plus your choice of shampoo, conditioner, brushes and combs, blow dryers and unlimited towels. “We provide everything except for you and the pet,” he finishes.

The wash caters to medium- sized dogs, but Nick has seen all kinds of pets pass through their doors. “We get the occasional rat, once with a cat,” he says, and the craziest was, “a miniature goat.”

In his time, Nick has seen a few escape attempts too, but few runaways make it past the divider into the store. What would a dog say about the pet wash station?  “Most of them say a lot,” Nick says, “with their body language, they get to the divider on their way in and stop.”  Although most dogs are not keen on their bath, they are happy when it is over. A free treats and a few rolls to get off that clean smell and they are on their way.

The walk- up drying station features built-in collar attachments that help make the job easier for owners. Photo credit: Emily Townsend

The pet wash isn’t about the cost for the company, it’s about the conversations it brings up. “It’s an introduction, a way to exchange information and address issues,” Nick explains. It opens up lines of communication between customers and staff. “Everyone has a story, a problem, something to say.” And Nick has over a decade of knowledge to offer.

If you can’t make it in to The Pet Works, just remember to wash your pup regularly at home. Monthly is recommended. Washing more often can cause itchiness because you strip oils from your pet’s coat. Also, don’t forget to break out your dog comb. “The number one step skipped is brushing out your dog before you wash,” Nick says. You waste materials and time. And if you are torn between a clean tub or a clean pet, remember you can have both if with a quick stop at The Pet Works.

The Pet Works
240 14th Street
Astoria, OR 97103
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

This article appeared in Clatsop News and was written by Emily Townsend