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A Family Affair

story by Jodi Camp

At 10 a.m., Kim Atwood, 52, owner of Precious Paws Pet Grooming, begins to trim the fur of a terrier, her second dog of the day. In the back her father, Dave, bathes a greyhound.  In front, her daughter-in-law, Amelia, updates the computer.

"Precious Paws is a family group effort," Kim says.

Kim began her business in 2008, working out of her home.  A year later she moved into her own building. Her husband, Mark, encouraged her. "The people coming to her were really impressed with her work," he says.

Kim grew up with dogs and has been a groomer for 10 years.  She trained at Nash Academy in Lexington. "I just like working with the dogs," Kim says. "Most of them are really sweet, even though they may not like what you're doing."

The salon has a family atmosphere. Leigh Ann Shaw, one of the groomers, says workers treat each other like brothers and sisters. "We play pranks on each other; we're mean," says Kristen Domke, another groomer.

"I've got fantastic groomers," Kim says. "The girls in my salon want to put out quality work." 

Each groomer works with five to seven dogs a day.  That adds up to about 6,500 dogs a year.

"You build a relationship with all the dogs and owners, I enjoy that," Leigh Ann says.

At 4 p.m., Kim is grooming her last dog of the day, a poodle mix.  Mary Sue Cook walks in to pick up Riley.  When she sees her dog wriggling in Kim's arms, her face lights up.  As she places Riley in Mary Sue's arms, Kim smiles.

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Kim, left, clips the hair of Annie, a Yorkie. At the next station, groomer Leigh Ann Shaw, 33, works with Lily, a Wirefox Terrier.

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Dave Grey, 72, dries the hair of Remus, a Labradoodle. He uses a special dryer to bring up loose hair so it is easier for the groomer to work with. Dave works to help his daughter, Kim, and also to supplement his social security income.

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Kim calls Annie's owner to tell her her Yorkie is ready to be picked up after her grooming.

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Kim, center, works alongside her employees Kristen Domke, 29, left; Leigh Ann Shaw, 33, back right; and Brittany Simpson, 23, right.

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Annie, a 13-year-old Yorkie, pulls on the leash tethering her to Kim's work station.

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Mary Sue Cook hugs Riley, a Shihpoo, when she picks him up after his grooming. "We've been coming for well over a year,” says Mary Sue. “Kim's not getting rid of us.”