By People Staff
August 27, 1979 12:00 PM

Which is hairier: the price of a shampoo at a professional pooch parlor, or doing it yourself in the family bathroom? The question was unsolvable until John Grifa and his wife, Mary, created a portable dog shower in their home in an Akron suburb.

Their first encounter with the problem came seven years ago when son John Patrick brought home a puppy, part German shepherd, part collie. Rojam (Major spelled backward) turned out to be a strong-willed pooch who balked whenever bath time rolled around. “There has to be a better way,” groaned Mary, now 45. A search for a bath at pet stores and a call to the U.S. Patent Office told them they were barking up the wrong tree.

For the next year Mary made sketches of bathing contraptions, and John, a 50-year-old machinist at B.F. Goodrich, executed them. In 1977 they obtained a patent for a rectangular plastic box with a curved lid on top. Inside the apparatus (measurements: 20″ high, 12″ wide and 25″ long—big enough for a springer spaniel) are five plastic pipes, all of which attach to a single nozzle in back. The owner simply lifts the dog in, puts his head through a hole in front and clips his collar to a special ring. A hose connects the nozzle with the kitchen faucet. Water jets gently douse Fido, who can then be shampooed and finally rinsed. (His head is washed separately.)

The Rojam Portable Dog Shower, as it is called, is now selling briskly at $69 a clip—mail order only. Mary is already at work designing both larger and smaller models, plus a doggie shampoo. What next? Probably canine Jacuzzis, hot (dog) tubs for mellow California mutts and automated cur washes in shopping centers across America.