Lori Hooker is used to exclamations of "Yuuuuck!" when she tells others about her business.

"People will laugh and say, 'You're what?' We say, 'We're professional pooper-scoopers,' "said Hooker, who by day works at the Utah Museum of Natural History. "Then they hear we're making money at it."The "we" refers to business partner Linda Schneider, whose day job is at Franklin Covey.

The entrepreneurs, who are both dog lovers, began DooAway Yard and Kennel Waste Removal Service in August, complete with a business plan, marketing strategy, mission statement and even a motto: "We keep it off your yard and off your mind."

The fledgling business is humming along so nicely that they plan to hire an employee soon.

Renee Arnold, a Salt Lake City insurance examiner who owns two golden retrievers, hired DooAway two months ago and is a satisfied customer.

"With my work schedule, it's much more convenient for me," Arnold said. "I heard about it from some friends of mine who have a 3-year-old daughter who likes to play in the back yard. With them, it's a cleanliness issue. For me, it's convenience."

The idea for the enterprise emerged when Schneider was writing a book on home-based pet businesses. There was dog grooming. Aquarium cleaning. Pet sitting. Kennels.

The pooper-scooper concept sounded best because the start-up costs were the lowest. And frankly, there is a niche market. People are busy these days and the chore involves what Hooker describes as "the repugnance factor."

"Our mission is for people to enjoy their pets more. What better way than for us to go out and do the thing that they don't want to do?" Hooker asks.

They began publicizing their business at dog shows and through pet businesses. They currently provide service to 10 customers only on Saturdays, but will do evening work once the days grow longer in spring.

The cost is $7 for weekly yard cleanup for a household with one dog. It's $4 more for an additional dog. They offer discounts to senior citizens and people with disabilities who have companion dogs.

Exceptionally messy yards might require a more expensive once-over.

"In springtime we figure there will be one-time cleanups when the snow melts and people go, 'Oh, my gosh,' " Hooker said.

They currently tidy residential yards, but plan to expand to apartment complexes and businesses that have neighborhood dogs that frequent their grounds.

Hooker and Schneider baffled Salt Lake officials when they investigated permits because no one knew what kind of license this business would need. They were put in contact with solid-waste officials and the health department, which heartily endorsed the idea, Hooker said.

Apparently the health department is deluged with complaints about dog waste in warm weather because people get upset about the stinky mess in the neighbor's yard.

"We were kind of dismayed when it started so slowly the first few months, but that's pretty normal. You just have to be persistent and customer-service oriented because that makes the difference," Schneider said. "We call customers back after the first service with them to make sure it went OK."

Their equipment needs are simple: gloves, scoopers, pans and coolers to store the waste until it can be hauled to a landfill.

There are few dog-to-human diseases, but there are dog-to-dog ailments, so Hooker and Schneider disinfect their shoes and equipment before moving from one yard to another.

After a Saturday's work, their equipment is soaked in bleach water, shoes are disinfected again, clothes tossed in the wash and, even though they don't touch any waste themselves, they still scrub up thoroughly.

Their biggest concern is making sure that customers' dogs are friendly.

A real plus has been the friendships and partnerships they've found in the Salt Lake pet community.

"We try to be as positive as we can," Schneider said. "How can you be anything else when you scoop poop for a living?"