From WYDAILY By Julia Marsigliano

Marley, the white Labrador Retriever, turns 9 years old at the end of March. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Rebecca Mulvain)

JAMES CITY COUNTY — Marley loves to roll around in the dirt –– more specifically, in the cow manure near her house by Jamestown Settlement. She especially loves to do this after it rains.

The 135-pound white Labrador Retriever, who turns nine years old at the end of March, always ends up “all stinky.”

She also loves to swim but hates getting a bath.

Her owner, Rebecca Mulvain struggles to get Marley clean in her home’s bathroom.

“So she would run out there and roll in the mud and get all stinky,” Mulvain said. “Yup, if I’m having this problem…I cannot be alone in this struggle.”

When she tried to find a dog wash for a large dog like Marley, Mulvain discovered the nearest ones were in Richmond and Virginia Beach.

“It kind of put of a bug in my ear,” she said.

Her solution? A dog wash with tubs for larger dogs. In 2017, Mulvain won $5,000 from START Peninsula, which gives out this grant to help with the start up of small businesses.

Originally from Syracuse, N.Y., U.S. Navy veteran Mulvain was stationed in Hampton Roads for 15 years before she was stationed in San Diego. After she retired in 2012, she moved to Williamsburg.

The retired Navy veteran juggled found herself juggling her new business while still working a full-time job at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown as a civil servant.

Mulvain said that before she would commit to opening a brick-and-mortar location, she needed to “test the concept out” first. She partnered with breweries, the Heritage Humane Society and other businesses in the area. She would go to those locations with A pop-up tent for outdoor dog washes.

“It went very well, everyone was very receptive,” she said, adding that some shared how they were sick and tired of washing their dogs in their home bathroom or shower.

Mulvain decided to take the “leap” and opened a storefront in the Williamsburg Crossing Shopping Center.

Muddy Marley’s Dog Wash, located at 5251 John Tyler Highway, Unit #9, had its soft opening on Feb. 2, 2021.

Inside the dog wash is a row of 3-foot high fiberglass bathtubs which are accessible from almost every angle. Each tub is equipped with a showerhead, 7 different shampoos, and other items needed bathing a dog. Customers have the option to bathe their dogs themselves or have the staff of Muddy Marley’s do it for them.

The bathtubs at Muddy Marley’s Dog Wash accommodate larger breeds such as Great Danes. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Rebecca Mulvain)

Prices for the services they offer vary. For customers who want to wash their dog more often have the option to sign up for a monthly membership, which includes unlimited washes for one flat fee.

Besides large bathtubs that were specially made for large dog breeds like St. Bernard’s, Bernedoodles, and Great Danes, Muddy Marley’s offers other services such as grooming, nail trimming, teeth brushing and ear cleaning. There are also accommodations for smaller dogs as well.

“We do have a few smaller dogs that come in between but it’s mostly big, big dogs,” she added.

Muddy Marley’s has made sure to keep their customers’ and employees’ safety in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the precautions is offering appointment-only based services. Customers are asked to call the store in advance or book a timeslot online.Bathtubs are stationed 8 feet away from one another and are consistently sanitized.

Muddy Marley’s also donates “free wash” certificates for dogs that are adopted from some of the local area shelters and rescues, including Heritage Humane Society, Village Dog Rescue, Homes for Hounds and Gloucester-Matthews County Humane Society. Mulvain feels that this is a way for her business to encourage pet adoption.

“We’ve donated 200 certificates so far,” she said.

As for future plans for the dog wash, Mulvain plans to partner with other local businesses, including for the store’s upcoming “Mommy and Me” Mother’s Day makeover event. She plans to partner with next door neighbor, Hair and Nails. That way, dogs and dog moms can have a day of pampering, including having their nails done.

“The dogs and their moms [can] get the same colored nails,” Mulvain said.

The grand opening for Muddy Marley’s Dog Wash is at the end of May. Check the business’ Facebook page for more updates.

Muddy Marley’s Dog Wash is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and closed on Mondays. The last wash of the day is typically within 30 minutes of closing time.

To make an appointment, visit the dog wash’s website or call 757-808-7161.