Initial family venture grows into Forest Mills Board and Groom, LLC in rural Waukon

Pair of families create family atmosphere at new Forest Mills Board and Groom, LLC ... A pair of families with roots and continued residence in the Forest Mills area of rural Waukon have partnered together to form the newly-named Forest Mills Board and Groom, LLC as of January of this year. Pictured in the photo above is the Jackson family, which includes: Left to right - Front row: Taylor and Tucker Jackson; Back row: Joe and Sarah Jackson. In the photo below, groomer Sarah Rubendall (far right in back row) is pictured with Tyler Pearson and their two daughters, Juno and Harper. Submitted photos.

Responding to the needs of their customers and surrounding community, what started as a family effort of raising Australian shepherds a decade ago by the Joe and Sarah Jackson family has now grown beyond just their family into a multi-faceted business newly-named in January, Forest Mills Board and Groom, LLC, all with a focus toward making pets feel like a part of the family.

Joe and Sarah Jackson of the Forest Mills area of rural Waukon, along with their two high school-aged children, Tucker and Taylor, began raising Australian shepherds 10 years ago, building a kennel for their own dogs. When COVID hit in early 2020 and then began to subside, the Jacksons had some of their puppy customers ask if they would “babysit” those dogs while the families were finally able to go on vacation as the virus slowed. Based on that need, the family expanded its offerings and opened Jackson Family Boarding at their home location.

“This started the boarding aspect,” the Jacksons shared. “Then, once we downsized our breeding program and started to do more boarding, we had families asking if their family members could have a bath and haircut while staying with us, which led to us to add grooming. Sarah Rubendall had already been helping us on the weekends while we were drawn away by our kids’ activities, so it was a perfect fit.”

In January of this year, the business expanded yet again at its original location and changed its name to Forest Mills Board and Groom, LLC. Joe and Sarah Jackson own the boarding aspect of the business, and Sarah Rubendall owns the grooming portion of the newly-established partnership, but all have the same focus in what they offer.

“Our main goal is making your pet feel like they are a part of our family while in our care,” the business owners said. “The most rewarding part for all of us is seeing the happy families and pets.”

Joe and Sarah Jackson both graduated from Waukon High School. They married in 2006 and have two children, Tucker (18) and Taylor (15). Joe farms on his family farm near Waukon and Sarah is also a Registered Nurse at Families First. The family raises beef cattle and Australian shepherds, and they also have a couple horses and one pampered dog of their own named Tilly.

Sarah Rubendall was born and raised near Waukon, growing up helping on her family farm with their small-scale Jersey herd. She has two daughters, Juno (5) and Harper (1), with her significant other, Tyler Pearson. They bought their first home together in 2020.

“She is self-taught!” the Jacksons shared about Rubendall’s grooming skills. “Grooming is something she picked up during COVID and found a passion for, she has been grooming clients around the area for the last couple of years before starting at Forest Mills Board and Groom, LLC at the beginning of this year. Our clients rave about the outstanding job she is doing!”

With all three of the business owners all having grown up in the Forest Mills area, they found it very fitting to start their partnership and name if after the place they call home. Despite the challenge they feel everyone faces in balancing work life and family life, it is that feeling of being home that Forest Mills Board and Groom, LLC wants to share with their clients.

“Forest Mills Board and Groom is not just a place to drop off your pet while you’re away,” they shared. “We treat all dogs as if they are our own. They get extra play time in our outside playground, one-on-one play time, treats, hugs and lots of talking, too. Plus, now they can get a bath, haircut, and smell great at pick-up. Because we also live here, we are around all the time. Dogs get to interact with people during the day, as well as with other dogs. We have had many families tell us their pet knows exactly where they are going and get all excited when they turn down our road.”

As the business continues to grow, its owners are looking to make the experience for their clientele even more personal. “We are currently remodeling our facilities and have plans to have an office/lobby area, grooming room, more kennel space, and, of course, adding more interactive toys to the playground,” they shared.

Forest Mills Board and Groom, LLC is open by appointment seven days a week. For boarding of four-legged family members, call Sarah Jackson at 563-794-0662, and for grooming, call Sarah Rubendall at 563-794-1685. The business also has its own Facebook page, Forest Mills Board and Groom.