|Article Author: Angie McKaig|
Pooch Potty provides fresh weekly sod for hi-rise urban Fidos by Angie McKaig
Living in a high-rise building isn't just convenient; in these overcrowded, overpriced urban times it can be a necessity as well. But try telling that to your brand-new puppy who finds it difficult to wait for a long elevator ride!
Merry and I live on the top floor of our high rise, and I'm the first one to admit that it was tough to housebreak her as a result. I did try to train her to go on papers or even a litter box on the balcony, but since she'd had outside access via a doggy door since her very first day on earth, the pumpkin wanted grass, thank you very much. No substitutes allowed.
If you find yourself in the same boat, Pooch Potty may be the answer. Currently based in Los Angeles but rapidly expanding to other metro areas, they sell large patio boxes filled with sod as a "backyard alternative" for your pooch. What's more, they'll come in once a week (for a fee) and clean out your box, leaving fresh sod in place.
We recently spoke to the owner of Pooch Potty, Cathy Stanley, about her service.
pp: What inspired you to start Pooch Potty?
cs: My long time friend Loy Norrix was running it as a little side business called Puppy Park (to his full time career as a cinematographer) I always thought is was such an amazing idea to offer such a service. I bought the business from him in August of 2001 and since then have changed the name to what is now known as Pooch Potty!
pp: Who can benefit from a service like yours?
cs: Any doggy who does not have the luxury of having their very own backyard (their humans benefit as well, but it is really made for the dog's benefit).
In the Los Angeles area, our doggie customers range from young pups just being housebroken, to elderly or disabled dogs who can't walk so well anymore. They live in apartments, townhouses (with cement patios), houses on the beach (with decks) and houses in the Hollywood Hills (again with decks, or just cement & pools in the back) Some of our doggie customers even get to go to work with their humans (lucky dogs!) and so they will have a Pooch Potty at their office, in the courtyard or terrace or on a balcony.
pp: What is the difference between Pooch Potty and other dog potty products?
cs: There is a Dog Litter box & dog litter product that some of my customers have tried. They've told me their dogs chew the litter (since it is made of compressed paper, it tastes especially yummy to young puppies).
We also have a standing policy that any customer who buys a competitor's box and is unsatisfied with it can trade it in to Pooch Potty for one of our boxes (free, if they try our Sod Service for 90 days)
As a huge dog lover myself, I really am much more interested in creating a product/service that enhances the lives of dogs - and brings them added comfort to their lives.
That's why we stress Pooch Potty is not meant as a replacement for walking your dog. Some products state that you can use the same piece of sod for up to 24 weeks! Can you imagine the poor dogs who have to be exposed to the bacteria of urine soaked sod for that long?
We will even give away the boxes for free, if someone low-income has a needy dog - because we would much rather they have the money to properly get the box cleaned out & sod replaced on a weekly basis (the most sanitary way to maintain the box). If a customer feels they can't commit to cleaning the box out weekly, I will usually talk them out of purchasing the box - if only for the sake of the dog (to protect them from the health hazards of not having a properly maintained box).
pp: How much training, if any, is required to "teach" the dogs how to use the Pooch Potty?
cs: In our experience, a very high percentage of dogs will just instinctively understand that it is grass to go potty on, if they been previously trained to go to the bathroom on grass. Dogs who have been trained on Wee Wee Pads usually need to be retrained to go on the grass.
If their dog doesn't use the Pooch Potty in the first day or two, we tell customers that the help of a professional dog trainer is always recommended - as they can assess the entire situation, environment and relationship between dog and their human. In the rare cases that a dog trained to go on grass won't use the Pooch Potty, it is usually something emotional or situational that a dog trainer can help evaluate.
pp: While some dog potty products suggest cleaning the box once every other month or so, Pooch Potty suggests cleaning every week. Tell us a little about the story behind this?
cs: It can be very hazardous to the health of your dog to expose them to bacteria for that long. Picture this: you have your dog only urinate & poop on one 4x4 piece of grass in your backyard. After a week, it will begin to be stinky and after ten days, your dog won't want to step on it anymore (because it will be squishy urine soaked grass).
Some dog owners may insist on trying to stretch the usage of the grass to two weeks, three weeks and longer - however, they really are doing their dog a disservice by this. That is why we would rather talk a customer out of getting a box (and turn away potential business) if they are not going to use it in a way that is responsible for the health of their dog.
Another really important part in maintaining the box is to pick up the feces daily.
pp: Do most of your customers choose to clean their own boxes, or do they opt for your at-home service?
cs: I would say it is about sixty percent who use our Full Service, and thirty percent who use our Self Install sod, and then ten percent who get sod themselves from a local nursery. We have tried to price the Self Install Sod at the very lowest we can possibly go, in order to offer the customer an option that is affordable.
pp: Where is Pooch Potty currently available?
cs: Pooch Potty Full Service and Self Install is available in the Los Angeles area right now. We are currently in the works to launch Pooch Potty/New York, where we will have the Self Install Sod shipped to their door on a weekly basis.
pp: You have "sod farms" where you grow the sod for your customers. How do you manage this in a large metropolitan area like LA?
cs: We get our sod out in Oxnard at one of the many Sod Farms that are in business there. They are not our sod farms exclusively. We get "Lite" sod which is much easier for the Self Install customers (and fits better in the Pooch Potty boxes)
pp: Why do you think there has been such an increase in demand for luxury dog products and services over the last ten years?
cs: In my experience, both with myself and many of the people I know - our dogs are actually members of our family, to be considered in any situation that might affect them.
My two dogs are truly my "pseudo-children", except they don't bring me worries like staying out past their curfew or throwing wild parties while I am out!
pp: What's the most rewarding part of running Pooch Potty?
cs: Really, truly, the rewards are in the smallest things that touch my heart. We had an older customer once who was on a walker, and her husband worked long days and felt they couldn't have a dog. When she found out about Pooch Potty, her husband finally gave in and the best part is they got a rescue dog! So here was a woman who got to have the love of a dog in her life, and a little homeless dog who got to have the love of a good home. It just made my heart sing with happiness.
Other customers have told me that until they found out about Pooch Potty, they would have never considered adding a dog to their family - because of living conditions where they had no yard. A lot of people in high-rises tell me they don't know how they would have housebroken a new puppy without a Pooch Potty. A small puppy can barely hold their bladder while you carry them from their crate to the Pooch Potty... imagine how they would be able to hold it going on an elevator, downstairs and outside without an accident?
It is really the people who tell me they can have a dog in their life now that brings me the most satisfaction.
pp: What plans do you have for the future of Pooch Potty?
cs: We started getting requests from customers in other urban areas. Our waiting list was longest for New York and that is where will be expanding to next.
The most unexpected thing is that some of our own customers have come to us asking about investing in our expansion. That is the most flattering compliment about our company I can think of.
I also want to say that Pooch Potty customers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They all have one thing in common: they love their dogs, and I believe that makes for a lot of happy people.
pp: Tell us a little about your dog(s).
cs: Well I have two little rescue dogs that both found their way to me not by my own design.
One is the little white dog on our website and on the cover of our brochure (she looks to be part Maltese and part Shitzu?) - her name is Sugar and if you wanted to be formal, you could address her as Sugar-Plum-Fairy. I call her my little chicken dog because she is afraid of everything, people, loud noises, strange places. She showed up here with her little baggage from her life before, and I just accept her as she accepts me (with my baggage).
My other dog (on the inside of our brochure) is the little Cocker Spaniel. His name is Corky (aka Mr. Corky Magillicudy aka Mr. Man). Sadly, Corky made the journey to Doggie Heaven last July and I still miss him, and I hope his memory will never leave my heart. He was a very special dog.
I think if everyone had their very own dog to love, this would be a much nicer world to live in. WOOF!
For complete information regarding Pooch Potty, visit www.poochpotty.com.