One of La Crescent’s newest residents can work a pair of scissors around a dog’s body in no time.
Luckily, for the dogs involved, the scissors belong to La Crescent Animal Care’s Master Pet Groomer Kimberly Cook.
“We had never had a master groomer before,” said La Crescent Animal Care Manager Barb Sell. “We advertised for a groomer online. Kimberly was the first to apply. It just clicked.”
Cook, who started at La Crescent Animal Care about a month ago, is within the 1 percent in the country who is an international certified master groomer with the International Professional Groomers Inc. and has a history in grooming competition.
“I don’t have a favorite dog breed…I believe that all dogs are the same underneath. No matter what breed it is,” she said.
Cook has been grooming dogs and cats since completing a certification program at the Animal Care Center in Ohio in 1997.
“I have always loved animals since I was a kid,” Cook said. “My family had many, many dogs. My grandmother was what you could call a crazy dog lady.”
She worked as a lead instructor at the Paragon Grooming Academy in Michigan and received master grooming certification at the former Windy City Grooming School in Chicago.
“There are series of testing you have to go through both practical and written exams,” Cook said. “You have to groom certain breeds to eventually be certified…I began in 1997 and ended my official training in 2006. Usually, it takes a few years. It could be faster with a competition background.”
Cook also worked in international grooming competitions, grooming English Springer Spaniels. She also won first place at national pet grooming competitions.
“I’m really passionate about what I do,” she said. “The animals’ day should be like my day at the spa. They should have that experience going into it.”
Although her technical training is complete, Cook likes to stay up to date with her education.
“It’s a constant,” she said. “There are new things to learn all of the time. For example, the grooming equipment has gotten so much better. I believe that education is one of the most important things in life. Knowledge is power.”
A subject close to Cook is the lack of required legal licensing for groomers in the United States.
“It’s been very difficult to get it going,” she said. “I could technically just hand you a pair of clippers and there is no law saying that you couldn’t groom the dog. Grooming helps with the health care of the animal. The safety procedures are taught in grooming school.”
Although she is a lifelong dog lover, Cook does not own dogs.
“My husband’s allergies and asthma are so bad,” she said. “So, I get my fix here. I like to say that everyone’s dogs are mine when they are here. I love spending time with them. I cherish it even more because I can’t have one.”