5 June 2024

Farmborough Heights nurse comes up with ingenious solution to smelly dog walks

| Zoe Cartwright
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Groodle Winnie was the inspiration behind Sarah Ashby's first foray into business.

Groodle Winnie was the inspiration behind Sarah Ashby’s first foray into business. Photo: Sarah Ashby.

If you’re in love with your dog, but less in love with inhaling the pungent aroma of their poop on long walks, Farmborough Heights woman Sarah Ashby is with you.

“I hate carrying bags of poo, but I hate seeing them left on the beach or the footpath even more,” she said.

“I live in Farmborough Heights and there are no public bins around the suburb; I thought if I have this problem, I’m sure everybody else does.

“There are regular complaints about dog poo on our neighbourhood social media page; it’s as big a pain for non-dog people as it is for dog people.

“I see bags left everywhere; there was an obvious need for a solution and I went looking for one but couldn’t find anything.”

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Undaunted, Sarah decided to come up with a solution.

An occupational health nurse, Sarah stepped outside her comfort zone to work with a designer to create a light, washable, leash attachable container for dog poo bags.

The containers also have a bag dispenser, but the most essential feature was that it contained the smell.

“I went into it with an idea not so much what I wanted it to look like, contacted a designer, and we went from there,” she said.

“We have one size at the moment; it fits a 500 ml capacity, is six centimetres in diameter by 17 cm in length, so it’s a decent size; you can fit about two normal sized poos.”

The Whifti Walks canisters are big enough to fit a couple of poos, can be attached to a lead and have a built-in bag dispenser.

The Whifti Walks canisters are big enough to fit a couple of poos, can be attached to a lead and have a built-in bag dispenser. Photo: Sarah Ashby.

Since launching her business, dubbed Whifti Walks, and product two months ago, Sarah said she’s sold about three a day across every state of Australia.

If the concept proves popular enough, she’s keen to expand the business and make larger sized canisters for owners of more generously proportioned pooches.

Right now, the business is a family affair. Sarah’s husband and three daughters all help out as social media models, salespeople and take on the less glamorous jobs of packing orders, providing technical support and the odd bit of heavy lifting.

“I haven’t had a business before this; it’s way out of my comfort zone,” Sarah said.

“It’s taken over our family’s existence – our house doubles as a warehouse with boxes piled up to the ceiling.

“I built the website, do the social media and set up everything myself.

“It’s been a real family effort, right down to our groodle, Winnie, who’s the whole reason we’ve done this.”

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Whifti Walks wasn’t just a good business idea, it’s also good for the environment.

Wollongong City Council compliance and regulation manager Diane Sarkies said dog poo could cause serious problems if it wasn’t disposed of properly.

One place dog poo ends up that it shouldn’t, even if it’s in a biodegradable bag, is the green FOGO bin.

“Dog poo often contains pathogens and worm eggs that can survive the pasteurisation process at our compost facility,” Diane said.

“They’re harmful to human and animal health, so bags of poo need to go into normal bins at beaches and parks or red bins at home.”

The other place it can cause havoc is our waterways.

“Animal poo can contain harmful bacteria and other parasites,” Diane said.

“If it’s left on the street, footpath or beach it gets into our creeks, river and oceans where it increases nutrients and creates a more favourable environment for algal blooms to grow.

“The plastic bags disintegrate over time, so they end up in the environment too.

“From an aesthetic point of view, they look ugly.

“We ask people to do the right thing and take responsibility.”

Thanks to Sarah’s Whifti Walks canister, that’s a suggestion no dog owner needs to sniff at.

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