In a country whose residents spare no expense on their pets — and keeping their homes clean — an Associated Press story on Page M3 says that self-service dog washes represent another splurge, allowing dog owners to forgo the indignity of chasing a wet and soapy dog around the house, or across the lawn, along with the messy cleanup.

The trend kicked off more than a decade ago. Now it seems that just about every sizable city has at least one.

In Maine's largest city, the bustling Portland Dog Wash has five tubs, which are disinfected after each wash.

"This setup is much easier than doing it at home," said Maureen Lafferty, who wore a standard issue vinyl smock while tending to her 9-year-old dog.

There are more than 70 million dogs in the United States, and they account for a good chunk of the nearly $3 billion pet owners spend each year on grooming and boarding, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.