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Dog washes to benefit wounded troops

Jun. 18, 2014 - 12:36PM   |  
Dogtopia, a canine day care with locations in 29 states, will host its tenth charity dog wash — this year, raising funds for Paws With A Cause, an organization that provides service dogs to veterans and others with disabilities. The company is hoping to raise $36,000, enough to put three puppies through assistance dog training.
Dogtopia, a canine day care with locations in 29 states, will host its tenth charity dog wash — this year, raising funds for Paws With A Cause, an organization that provides service dogs to veterans and others with disabilities. The company is hoping to raise $36,000, enough to put three puppies through assistance dog training. (Courtesy photo)
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Looking for something to do this weekend with your canine companion? Take a bath. Or at least, take your dog for a soaping and help an injured service member to boot.

Dogtopia, a canine day care with locations in 29 states, will host its tenth charity dog wash — this year, raising funds for Paws With A Cause, an organization that provides service dogs to veterans and others with disabilities.

The company is hoping to raise $36,000, enough to put three puppies through assistance dog training. That’s a lot of drippy doggies at the suggested donation of $15 a wash.

“Last year, we washed more than 1,000 dogs and raised $30,000. It’s lots of fun,” CEO Amy Nichols said.

Dogtopia employees donate their time and the company covers the costs of water, shampoo and towels — thousands that get washed, dried and reused at the centers afterward.

The wash is scheduled for Sunday, and some centers are making a day of it, turning their events into community celebrations, with music, free treats and giveaways.

Retired Army Cpl. Kevin Stone will be at several Dogtopia locations in northern Virginia and Maryland near Washington, D.C., with his service dog Mambo, a yellow Labrador retriever he received years ago from Paws With a Cause.

Mambo accompanies Stone, who is a paraplegic, everywhere: during his official duties as an AMVETS service officer and at home, where the dog opens doors, retrieves items and helps him move in and out of his chair.

Stone calls Mambo his “quiet motivator.”

“The first dog I had, Jonah, literally saved my life. As a newly injured veteran, I didn’t want to do anything. I was not going to do therapy. I was not going to do adaptive sports. I was taking ridiculous amounts of medicine. I owe all my success to that dog,” said Stone, a member of the U.S. Paralympic Team that took home a bronze medal in Athens for archery in 2004.

Stone’s Army career ended abruptly in 1987 when the vehicle he was riding in careened off a cliff at Fort Ord, Calif. He was paralyzed nearly instantly and faced a long road to recovery.

Jonah was his first Paws With A Cause dog.

“I’ve seen the impact the right dog can have on a soldier. I don’t know how they do it, but they somehow pair you with the perfect dog. It may not be the dog you think you want, it’s the dog you need,” Stone said.

Dogtopia held its first charity dog wash in 2005, raising funds to send supplies and toys to military working dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the 10th anniversary, the company again decided to help a military cause.

“This is a big part of our company, giving back to the community. We are proud of the work we have done to benefit veterans and assistance dogs,’ Nichols said.

To find a Dogtopia location near you, check out the schedule on the company’s website.

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