Doggone Good: Zionsville resident earns title of International Certified Master Groomer


When Jody Olson’s clients come into her salon, she performs all the usual beauty treatments:  shampoo, haircut, blow dry and style.

Plus, a good scratch behind the ears.

Since 2017, Olson has operated her dog grooming business, Hometown Pet Grooming, at her home on 96th Street in Zionsville.

Now, after five years of studying and testing, the Zionsville native has achieved one of the top recognitions in her field — International Certified Master Groomer.

“It’s a series of written tests and practical tests,” Olson said. “They make sure you pass all the criteria (such as) safety. Did you do the blow dry well enough so you can get the best haircut? (And) just the way you handle the dog. It took me five years from start to finish. You do different groups, a terrier group, a poodle group, sporting groups, and the last one was a mixed breed. You just have different categories, and for each one there is a book on their temperaments and what kind of groom they need, and you have to know all that.”

The recognition was awarded in January by International Professional Groomers, a worldwide organization for animal groomers that provides education and certification that increases knowledge and skills of groomers while keeping the safety of pets at the forefront of their mission. IPG has certified groomers in 35 countries, offering continuing education, business mentoring, and pet safety classes such as CPR along with grooming standards.

zionsville groomer trim
Jody Olson puts the finishing touches on a haircut for Saylor, a standard poodle, in her salon in Zionsville.

Olson started her journey into grooming eight years ago while working as a receptionist in an animal hospital, where she found herself increasingly interested in the work the groomer was performing.

“I thought, ‘There’s something to this, there’s a need here’,” Olson said. “So, I asked (the groomer) if I could come back and watch her one day. Then I started off just bathing the dogs and doing some prep work, then some easy haircuts and we worked our way up.”

After a year working in an apprentice role, Olson opened her own salon, which is in the basement of her Zionsville home.

“It all kind of fell into place and it’s worked out. My commute is great,” Olson said, laughing. “People seem to like that it’s quieter because I don’t have a kennel full of dogs. There’s always a temptation to grow, and I think sometimes I should be looking at a storefront, but there are only two of us and we work by appointment.”

In 2021, Olson hired her assistant, Kelsey Szabo, who she also trained.

Olson said grooming isn’t simply something she’s good at. It’s also fun.

“It’s a lot of work, and it’s very physical,” Olson said. “But there is nothing better when dogs are so happy. There are ones that I hear barking as soon as they hit the driveway because they’re so excited to get in here, they pull their parents in to see us. How can that not be the best thing ever?”

Olson said there are some downsides to grooming — not the work itself but knowing that the clientele won’t be with her forever.

“We see a dog every four to six weeks for years, their entire lives, and we might see them start to decline,” Olson said. “Then we get the phone call that they won’t be here for their next appointment, and it feels like they are our own. We see them for so many years, it can be the hardest thing. That is the harder part, but it’s also a lot of joy just making them feel good.”

But, she added, although groomers are not on the medical side, their experience working with animals and the way they handle them means that a groomer might be the first one to notice any problems that might need to be addressed by a veterinarian.

“I’m always looking for skin issues,” Olson said. “I can’t tell you how many bumps and lumps I have found, and I can say, ‘This wasn’t here six weeks ago, this looks odd, I’m going to take a picture of it and send it to the vet.’”

That extra care had led to treatment for issues for a few of her clients, which reinforces Olson’s knowledge that she made the right career choice.

“That is so rewarding,” she said. “I’m not a vet, but I can tell people, ‘You might want to call.’ It’s that symbiotic relationship between the vet, the groomer, the owner, and we’re all looking out for the best interest of the dog. It makes you feel like you’ve done a great thing.”

zionsville groomer fence
Jody Olson’s salon is in the basement of her home at 6306 W. 96th St. in Zionsville. (Photos by Marney Simon)

About Hometown Pet Grooming

Jody Olson received international recognition this year when she was named an International Certified Master Groomer by International Professional Groomers. Olson owns Hometown Pet Grooming in Zionsville.

As an International Certified Master Groomer, Olson meets the highest in industry standards for pet and staff safety, health, sanitation, groomer ethics, and grooming expertise.

In addition to demonstrating safe and professional handling of animals as well as basic to advanced grooming skills, Olson is specially trained in the breed standard cuts for all purebred dogs as well as how to apply these cuts to mixed breeds.

“Our passion is the safety of the pets in our care,” stated Linda Easton, President of IPG. “This certification is an earned recognition of safety knowledge, compassionate treatment, and humane handling of the pets in Olson’s care.”

The education and testing involved in the ICMG meets and exceeds the standards created by the Professional Pet Groomers and Stylists Alliance, a grooming alliance of certifying agencies, educators, associations, and industry leaders.

Hometown Pet Grooming is located at 6306 W. 96th St. in Zionsville. Visit Hometown Pet Grooming at