Mel and her husband have been enthusiasts about Bearded Collies for many years. The couple have three bitches and three dogs, and they travel across the UK and Ireland with them, attending dog shows. They’re passionate about Bearded Collies, but there’s one problem with the breed’s long woolly coat: it’s prone to getting mucky on walks. The long hair on the lower legs inevitably gets wet and dirty as the dogs run through parks and puddles. This can cause messy problems at home, creating a mud bath on the kitchen or utility floor. Even if Mel leaves the dogs outside until they’ve dried off, there’s still an issue: the dried mud drops off the dogs in the form of thick, clingy dust that needs to be swept up. The problem is much the same in the car.
A few years ago, Mel was browsing the internet when she found the answer to this perennial problem: an American woman had invented a device for cleaning dogs’ lower limbs after walks. She was the owner of a Wheaten Terrier, another hairy breed, and she lived in New York, walking her dog in Central Park. On wet winter days, she found it impossible to keep her smart apartment clean when returning with a mucky dog, so she worked with a local craftsman to create a way of solving her problem. Her invention was named the “Paw Plunger”.
The device looks like a large plastic mug that has a firmly fitting lid with a hole in its centre. It’s filled with warm water before use, and then each of the dog’s feet is given an individualized washing cycle. The dog’s paw is inserted through the hole in the device, sealed with a close-fitting rubber ring. Inside, the Paw Plunger contains a series of soft brushes protruding from its sides, and as the plunger is gently moved up and down the dog’s leg, these brushes clean dirt from the fur and skin. The dirt and debris gathers at the bottom of the device, and once the paws have been cleaned, the waste can be poured down the drain, and the dog’s feet dried off with a towel. Mel’s company also supplies a high quality micro fibre towel to make this easier and more effective. The Paw Plunger is like a hybrid between a pub glass washing tray and a golf ball cleaner. It’s made of hard-wearing plastic so that it lasts for many years.
Mel was one of the first people outside of North America to try the device. She found that it worked so well with her own dogs that she knew there would be many other people who’d find it useful, and she bought the licence to distribute the product throughout Europe. She travels to dog shows across the continent anyway, entering her dogs in competitions, so she has the perfect opportunity to communicate her enthusiasm about the Paw Plunger to fellow dog owners.
Pet owners can buy the Paw Plunger online through her website, but Mel’s keen to widen its availability by encouraging pet shops to stock it. She was in Dublin last weekend at Petex, Ireland’s first pet trade-only exhibition, where she had a chance to connect with Ireland’s network of pet shops. Petex is organised by the same team that runs the consumer pet exhibition, Pet Expo, that’s coming up in October. Mel made some useful contacts, and if you keep your eyes open, you may well see Paw Plungers in your local pet shop in the coming months.
- Dogs can make the house and car filthy if they’re allowed in after walks
- The Paw Plunger is a simple way of making dogs more home-friendly
- You can see a video of it in action at www.pawplunger.co.uk