It’s Been 25 Years for Dog Beach Dog Wash in Ocean Beach

by on April 24, 2018 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

It’s been 25 years now – a quarter of a century – since Mindy Pellesier and Jane Donley opened up Dog Beach Dog Wash, in February 1993, on Voltaire Street. It was the first do-it-yourself dog wash in San Diego.

This year is also their 16th anniversary of sponsoring monthly Dog Beach clean-ups.  And that’s where I recently ran into the couple – under the canopy of their clean-up HQ on the berm before Dog Beach last Saturday. They had teams out on the sand and along the River picking up litter – and other unmentionables.

A few years ago, I spoke to Mindy about the origins of their endeavor. In the early 1990s, she and Jane moved from La Jolla to their duplex on Brighton Avenue, near the beach. Mindy told me:

“We had to get a dog,” Mindy said, “so we got two.” As good dog owners, they washed their dogs – “we washed them for hours, … they hated it. We hated it.” There had to be a better way.

She and Jane would watch all the other dog owners at Dog Beach, and finally Jane actually did a survey of people at the beach with their canines. “Would they go to a nearby dog wash and wash their own dog?” she polled, and the numbers were encouraging.


Jane Donley – on “her day off”

Mindy though “I’d opened many clinics, I’ve opened exam rooms. So, how hard could it be to open a dog wash?”

And they did it. … “We were one of the firsts do-it-yourself dog washes in the country.”

“At first, people didn’t understand it. They thought we were nuts. Now, we know we’re the busiest dog wash in the world – we do about 400 a week.”

It was late November 2014 that Mindy and Jane and their staff had their 500,000th dog washed. They had balloons and prizes. And now, Jane told me on Saturday, they are very close to another 64,000 – now that’s a lot of wet dogs.

Of the two of them, Mindy has been more involved with OB planning issues; she actually was awarded by the OB Town Council their “OB Citizen of the Year” in 2014 for her steadfast work on the OB Community Plan update process – a process that she alone has worked on for the last 12 years, plus Mindy helped guide the Update through the City Council unanimous vote on the Plan in July of that year.

I did an extensive interview with Mindy back 4 years ago, and it’s worth reading as she has an amazing personal history. Here are some excerpts:

Mindy … grew up in the Bay Area, in the small town of Orinda on the east bay, with a population of about 10,000. “It’s just over the hills,” she said, “from Berkeley.”

Mindy Pellesier, 2014.

She gets her French-ness from her father, Pierre Francois, who was an engineer – “we called him ‘the mad scientist’ – always inventing things,” she said; her mother was Joan, a housewife.


… Mindy told me she had a twin brother, Tim, who lived in Huntington Beach –  and she told me they’re still close.  Tim helped them  construct the dog wash when they opened. Plus she has two  younger brothers.

In 1971 or thereabouts – Mindy graduated high school from a small, secular private, all-girls school.  The biggest thing, she said, that happened during her school career was that she was a foreign exchange student and lived in Melbourne, Australia with a local family for a year.

During high school, Mindy swam and dove competitively on the school’s girl swim team. “I was best at freestyle and the butterfly,” she said. “Our class was very small, had only 32 in the graduating class.” She got into synchronized swimming in college.

Mindy ended up going to nursing school at the University of Arizona – “definitely a party school” she admitted –  graduating a registered nurse in 1975.  And she has kept her license current in an “inactive” status. Her first job as an RN, she recalled, was for a year at the U of Arizona hospital.

Mindy’s told me that around 1976, she helped open the first abortion clinic in Arizona. “We called them TABs,” she said, for therapeutic abortion clinics. “It was right after Roe v Wade”, she added, “and it was very controversial.” She worked there as an RN for two years. It was also dangerous.

“We had to hold clinics in the evenings, because of the anger.  They called us ‘baby-killers’.”

They performed the abortions at the local county hospital – and she came to become the manager of their outpatient clinic –  this was an outpatient clinic for all kinds of medical problems. She did this for almost two years. “It was too hot,” Mindy explained, in why she transferred to Los Angeles from Tucson. She ended up as the Director of the Hawthorn Community Medical Group – an association of physicians.  And for the rest of her career she worked in out-patient and psychiatric medical facilities.

“I became knowledgeable about HMOs before anybody else was,” Mindy said explaining why she was recruited by Scripps Clinic for 4 years.  At that point, she was living in La Jolla. But then, near 40, she had a mid-life crisis and had to change her lifestyle. It was around that time she moved to OB.

She and Jane met while they both worked for the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. At the time, Mindy was the VP of operations and Jane was doing marketing and PR. Mindy was in charge of 13 satellite clinics and their projects overlapped. Mindy opened 4 to 5 clinics herself and Jane did the marketing. … They were married on their 25th anniversary in downtown San Diego.

For a slice of Mindy’s life, she and Jane adopted a “Katrina dog”. She explained that thousands of dogs were abandoned after the hurricane, and they were sent all over the country, with 63 dogs being sent to San Diego.  And then, one year after Katrina, Mindy traveled to New Orleans to assist Habitat of Humanity in building housing. She had very good experiences with Habitat here in San Diego, when she worked with the group – and with Jimmy Carter – in building one hundred homes in east Tijuana.

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