WINDSOR, N.S. — Kate Madsen had a bustling dog grooming business in Arizona.
Located in the same zip code as many celebrity homes, and with 740 regular clients, several of whom had their own planes, Madsen was living the dream.
And then, last year, she packed up her life and moved to Nova Scotia.
Madsen said the decision was an easy one. She wanted to come home to be with family.
“I wanted to come for my family, especially my grandfather. We were very close,” said Madsen.
So she convinced her husband, Jeff Madsen, a rodeo team roper, and they made the trek in May 2018.
“We drove from Arizona, over 5,000 miles. It took us eight days with four horses and two dogs,” said Madsen. “We found horse hotels so they had a nice bed to sleep in every night and had a break from the trailer.”
Madsen, who was born and raised in Windsor, made it home in time to spend some quality months with her grandfather, Roley Phillips.
“I love my parents, but he’s the main reason I came back,” she said.
“He supported me when I was younger with every horse show I had — from the time I was five to the time I was 25. I’m so glad that I made it home in time to have valuable time with him.”
Phillips passed away Nov. 15, 2018.
Before he died, Madsen re-launched her grooming business, this time in downtown Windsor.
Kate’s K-9 Grooming Salon opened in September, and while it’s slowly taking off, she’s thankful for the clients and the business community that has supported her.
“There are three ladies around here that groom that as soon as I opened, they reached out to me to welcome me. I can’t thank them enough, truly, for their kindness and support. It just blew me away,” said Madsen.
“We talk every day. We have a group chat. We support each other, ask each other questions, learn from each other, bounce ideas. I definitely want to thank the three ladies — they know who they are.”
A love of animals
Madsen graduated from Windsor Regional High School in 2000 and took a vet assistant course. She took her formal surgical training at Cornwallis Veterinarians Ltd.
While taking a coaching course for horse riding, she did a month-long introductory grooming course in Ontario and quickly realized that was the career path she wanted to take.
She moved to Sydney, Cape Breton and apprenticed with a master groomer for about a year before opening her salon. She operated her business for three years but then she lost a loved one to cancer and moved back to Windsor. Through horse racing and rodeoing, she met her future husband, who is American. In 2013, the pair settled in Arizona, where they worked and continued to rodeo.
When she’s not grooming dogs, Madsen is a champion barrel racer, who has won countless trophies and awards. She said she’s thrilled to be back in the saddle, riding alongside friends in the Maritimes.
“I basically live in the barn. I’m either riding or training or mucking stalls, or brushing or getting feed. It’s my whole life,” said Madsen.
As such, the business hours of operation reflect her passion. She’s open Monday to Friday and offers some evening appointments. She says her business is a “one-dog-at-a-time salon,” meaning dogs get one-on-one attention and don’t spend the day at the groomer’s — just the time it takes to be pampered.
“I’m a low-stress groomer so I do one dog, they go home and the next one comes instead of having a barking circus in here,” she said.
Lisa Hines brings Wally, her two-year-old Bernedoodle rescue, to get groomed at Kate’s K-9 Grooming Salon and said Madsen always helps the dog feel comfortable.
“Wally is kind of a timid dog, he didn’t have the best start, and he seems comfortable with Kate. It’s all a little stressful for him so she seems to deal with him really well,” said Hines, who adopted Wally when he was 10 months old.
“He always looks great when he comes home. I’ve never had a dog with that type of non-shedding coat that needed to be clipped before so it’s new territory for me.”
As Madsen was trimming Wally’s fur, she said she’s always found it easy to connect with people’s pets.
“Animals are very clear about their boundaries. If you respect their boundaries in a calm way, I find it very easy to get along with animals. You just have to watch for their physical signs,” she said.
Madsen said she’s thankful for all of her past and present clients and is really hopeful her new business in Windsor will take off.
“My hope is that my business continues to grow and flourish in the community that I grew up in and I’m proud to call home,” said Madsen.
While it was a challenge to find a place in downtown Windsor willing to rent to a dog groomer, she’s happy to have her business up and running.
“I have high hopes for my business here in my hometown. It means a lot to me. This is where my whole family is from – for five generations. This town means something to me and I think supporting local is important and I certainly shop local because I am local, so I get it,” she said.
"I just love this town and I hope it grows and I want to be part of that growth.”
She’s already giving back — she will be sponsoring the kids class in barrel racing at the 2019 Hants County Exhibition.
“They deserve some affirmation of their hard work so I want to go ahead and sponsor the kids — our new blood coming up in barrel racing.”
Kate’s K-9 Grooming Salon is located in the Victoria Hotel building, with an entrance off Stannus Street. She can be reached at 902-306-1773 or via Facebook at Kate’s K-9’s Grooming Salon.