'Cutting' her way to class

For SUNY Cobleskill Freshmen Shayna Cooley, grooming dogs part time is just a facet of her lifelong love for animals big or small.

The 21-year old Massachusetts native moved to the area to become a student in SUNY Cobleskill's Animal Science program, with a concentration in large food production animals such as cows and sheep.

To help pay for that education, Cooley has started grooming dogs at The Happy Dog Pet Hotel in Rotterdam.

I love grooming there; it's a great place to work; it has a great atmosphere and they're great people to work for, said Cooley.

For Cooley, taking care of animals has always been a part of her life. Starting at age 13, Cooley volunteered with a local vet in her hometown of Petersham, Mass., until she was old enough to work and was hired as a member of the staff. At 15, Cooley attended a veterinary camp, which she said helped her solidify her passion.

"That's what really did it for me," said Cooley. "That's when I realized I wanted to do that for the rest of my life."

While growing up, Cooley nurtured a number of pets, including horses, cats and dogs. While still at home, she worked in Alan Bachrach's veterinary practice through high school and her time in community college. She also worked as an associate at PetCo and learned from friends how to groom pets before moving to Upstate New York to attend SUNY Cobleskill this year.

It was through a mutual friend on campus that she was introduced to Rich Kranick, the owner of The Happy Dog Pet Hotel in Rotterdam, who was interested in hiring her after hearing that she was experienced in grooming and working with animals. Kranick said her personality, customer skills and how she deals with the animals all factored into his decision to hire her. After having her groom one of his own dogs as a part of her interview, and with only three weeks on the job, Kranick said he is already hearing only positive remarks about her from customers.

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