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Finally at home in Falcon

Linda Quist has been grooming dogs for more than 15 years, but it wasn’t until the last few years that she understood it was definitely a calling – based on what she loves.Growing up on a farm in Ridgecrest, Calif., Quist has been around animals all her life. “We had rabbits, goats, cows, pigs, and sheep,” she said. “We were kind of like Noah’s Ark. We had two of everything.”At the early age of 12, she developed a keen business sense. “I sold my lamb crop every year; that’s how I learned bookkeeping, and (I) kept track of how much hay was needed for the lambs and how much money I was making,” Quist said. “It was a whole little 4-H business I had going on. I was a 12-year-old entrepreneur.”She continued to raise and sell sheep in her high school years and saved enough money to buy her first car.In 1986, Quist graduated from Burroughs High School, and later attended Cerro Coso Junior College in Ridgecrest, while working at a hardware store and doing a bit of landscaping.Feeling adventurous, in 1989, she took up a friend’s offer to move to Washington. “I wanted to try to something new,” said Quist. She found something new in Poulsbo, Wash., working in another hardware store. “It was in a huge town, “she said. “I went from tiny little Ridgecrest to all these options and didn’t really want a career working in a hardware store, so I applied for a job at Alder Creek Pet Lodge.”At the time, Quist said it was the biggest and most well-known boarding facility in the area. The facility offered pet owners a place to board their pets, as well as a place for the pets to be groomed and trained. “I was a basic kennel attendant,” she said. “It was just a glorified way to say I fed dogs and cleaned up poop.”Quist first learned the trade of dog grooming from a fellow co-worker and good friend, Cindy. “Right away I caught on that if I got all my work done and I ran over to the grooming room and helped [Cindy], then we could go play,” she said. Not long after, the lodge’s pet bather quit and Quist moved up to the grooming room. She continued to learn about dog grooming and eventually became the lodge’s primary dog groomer until 2000. “I just got really good and really fast,” she said. “I learned right away that it was all about the animals and not about making a buck.”After nearly 11 years of working at the Alder Creek Pet Lodge, Quist was uncertain whether she wanted to continue her career as a dog groomer. So, while working at Alder Creek, Quist decided to go back to college to obtain her associate’s degree. In 1997, she graduated from Olympic Junior College in Bremerton, Wash.A few years later, Quist decided it was time for another move. Washington’s constant rain made it difficult for her to enjoy what she loves to do most – ride and train horses. “I really tried to convince myself that I could get used to the weather,” she said. “When it rained all the time, it just got dreary. I just couldn’t get used to it.”Her next move involved literally opening a map of the United States and finding something with suitable weather – not too hot or too cold – and conducive to owning horses. She decided on Colorado. She and her friend, Carlene, flew to Denver, rented a car and spent eight days driving throughout the state to see what it had to offer.”We had never been here before,” Quist said. “We went to Ft. Collins and then all the way down to near Trinidad.” Something continued to draw Quist back to the Colorado Springs area. “Colorado Springs had so much to offer,” she said. Upon her return to Washington, she made the decision to move to Colorado Springs.Before she moved to Colorado, Quist went back to California to await the sale of a house she had been building in Washington and the birth of a foal. Her friend, Jim Steen – newly divorced – had been helping her with the siding and the barn on the home in Washington.However, when Quist moved back to California, Steen found a way to keep in touch with her. “He had kept some stuff in my garage, and at first he would call for really good reasons,” she said. “And then he would call for not so good reasons, and then he was calling me every single day!”Although she did not want to start a long-distance relationship, their friendship grew when Steen offered to help Quist move her horses to Colorado. “At first, when he came to Colorado he said, ‘I’m going to stay.’ And I said no you’re not. You’re going to ruin my chance to have Colorado cowboys,” Quist said with a laugh. But their relationship continued to develop, and in 2002 they married.Once settled in Falcon, Steen returned to construction, and Quist returned to what she knows best – working with dogs and horses. She worked as a horse tech and a dog groomer before finally opening her own dog-grooming business. She came to terms with the fact that she loves to groom dogs, and she’s happy where she’s doing it.”I felt like I walked right into my hometown here,” she said. “They are my kind of people. I love it here. I can’t ever imagine leaving.” She has about 121 clients now, but it’s not about numbers. “I want to succeed… people mean a lot to me, but their animals mean everything to me.”A little more on Linda QuistWhat’s your favorite thing about Falcon/Colorado?The peopleWhat’s your definition of success?To have a good reputation and to be able to afford to make a living. To have people trust and believe in you. Without trust, you have nothing.What’s your favorite vacation spot?Near Del Norte Peak. It’s a mountain just west of Walsenberg, Colo., and there’s a place called Willow Park. There’s this beautiful meadow there where we like to ride horses.What is your favorite sports team?I like hockey, so I’m an Avs fan.What’s your favorite TV show(s)?“Two and a Half Men” and “Grey’s Anatomy”

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