Bloomington / Normal, IL

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Does Your Dog Like Having a Bath?


By Amy Kennard

I own a shelter dog. He’s the sweetest pooch you can ever imagine; in fact, the shelter named him “Domino” because they said he was as “sweet as sugar.” However, he has some fears that I assume are from his past life. The list of things he is afraid of includes children, bicycles, scooters, small motorized vehicles, thunderstorms, the vacuum, blow dryers, beach balls, strangers (especially men with beards), and back massagers (don’t ask). Though I can handle him in most situations, come bath time, I am definitely not the Dog Whisperer.

He was beginning to smell like a dog — which permeates through the entire house — and the task could no longer be put off. Bathing Domino at home in the tub or shower is no easy task, and it was getting too cold to spray him outside with the hose (which didn’t work very well anyway!). Dragging my neurotic dog to the groomer was a disaster. I was literally at the end of my leash. Then I heard about Nilla’s Tub Do-It-Yourself Dog Wash.

Nilla’s Tub is located in an unassuming area of businesses off Landmark Drive in Normal. Walking into Nilla’s for the first time, Domino was apprehensively excited, but much calmer than when I have to lure him into a big-box pet store or try to coax him into the tub at home. Nilla’s is bright and charming, reminiscent of a small-town shop from your childhood. Remember those jars of penny candy that lined the walls?

Nilla’s has that too, except the jars are full of chicken necks, turkey tails, and salmon skin. Domino was like a kid in a candy store!

Karley Eash is the owner of Nilla’s Tub, and as she warmed herself up to Domino (which didn’t take long), I browsed the plethora of products. There were toys and accessories; raw food to kibble;, and GMO-free, free-range, grass-fed, human-grade, whole treats and nutrition supplements that help everything from digestive issues to allergies, anxiety, joint problems, and more. What’s also great is that Karley knows her products and can easily recommend the best choice for your pet’s needs.

I discovered that the only thing you have to do yourself is wash your dog. Everything else is supplied for you! I didn’t have to bring shampoo, or towels, or brushes. In fact, Nilla’s offered a variety of shampoos and conditioners — everything from oatmeal & aloe, to shed control, to eucalyptus & peppermint. The Earthbath-brand products they carry, are completely natural, non-toxic, paraben and sulfate-free, phthalate-free and phosphate-free, and made in the USA with no artificial colors or fragrances. I chose the Mango Tango, which smelled fresh and clean without that overly strong perfume smell some shampoos seem to have that just make my dog sneeze.

While Domino sniffed around, I perused the three dog bath areas — two were at a convenient, waist-high level and one a bit lower to accommodate dogs who may not be accustomed or able to walk up the short ramp into a higher tub. Rubber mats kept his paws from slipping, and a gentle tether safely secured him and allowed me to remove his collar — something that’s not an option in my tub at home.

Karley was there for any guidance and questions, like how do I wash a dog’s face, and reminded me of the plastic aprons she supplied to ward off those unexpected doggie shakes. Domino actually seemed to be enjoying this experience — especially when I dried him off with one of Nilla’s soft, fluffy towels — quite the upgrade from the 20-year old ratty beach towel I had been using.

Usually, Domino has to air-dry because of his fear of the blow dryer, but he seemed so calm I was tempted to see how he’d do. Again, I gently tethered him and started the dryer, which had a nice, low-speed option that wasn’t too loud or powerful. There’s even a hands-free option that blows the air from overhead — great for smaller or more skittish dogs. Again, Domino seemed to warm up to the dryer quickly, and I was able to take my time until he was almost completely dry. Baskets of brushes and grooming combs were right within reach, and it was nice to try out some different kinds to see what would work best on his fur. By the time I was finished, he was not only a handsomely clean dog, but calm and relaxed as well!

Out of all my dog washing adventures, Nilla’s Tub is by far the easiest, most stress-free, healthiest way to bathe my dog — and I think he would agree.

NIlla’s Tub, located at 211 Landmark Dr., Ste B-1 in Normal, has everything you need to bathe and groom your furry friend in a fun, relaxing environment. No appointment necessary. They also carry a variety of food — including raw and dehydrated raw — treats and supplements that are have no artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, animal-by-products, or fillers. For more information, call 309-451-9274 or visit them online at