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Brian Taylor, AKA The Dogfather, smiling with a dog mid-grooming.

Brian Taylor

Owner of Harlem Doggie Day Spa & Creator of The Pup Relief Tour

Brian Taylor, a.k.a. The Dogfather of Harlem, is the founder of the Harlem Doggie Day Spa. Taylor discovered his passion for dog grooming while working as a banker, when he noticed that there were no pet care facilities in Harlem. Seeing an opportunity to serve his community, Taylor founded Harlem Doggie Day Spa, dedicated to providing cage-free boarding, daycare, and grooming services. During the pandemic, Taylor took his expertise on the road with the Pup Relief Tour, a project that provides free grooming services to pet parents in need around the country.

What inspired you to work with animals?

When I was younger — I was born in West Africa, Sierra Leone — we weren’t able to have pets. My first animal was a monkey! My brother and I once found a Pit Bull mix in the neighborhood and hid it in our basement for three weeks until my mom found out and made us find it another home. That sparked my curiosity to want to work with animals. But it wasn’t until I was working as a banker in NYC that I realized how dogs play such an important role in American culture. I also wondered why there weren’t any African American-owned pet care services in Harlem. Black people love dogs too! So I went to school to become a dog groomer and now I’ve groomed more than 10,000 dogs. I do this for fun, but I also really want to educate people. The way animals attach to us as human beings is such an uplifting thing.

What is Harlem Doggie Day Spa’s mission/philosophy?

I like to think of us as a safe haven for pets and pet parents. We’re an activity-based dog daycare that services a community in need with grooming, daycare, and boarding services. We try to customize and cater our business to the working family, and we find ways to really be transparent with them. So I think our philosophy is: play, have fun, do quality work, and be very transparent. 

What keeps you motivated to help pets and their parents?

Creativity. Working with animals during the pandemic saved me. And connecting with people through the love of dogs motivates me, but I’ve only scratched the surface. There’s more to it that I need to do. Hopefully one day everyone in this world will have a dog (or could tolerate a dog) — that’s one of my missions.

What is your best piece of pet parenting advice?

Find your community. Find people who love dogs like you, from your dog walker to your groomer. Start with your breed — get to know as many people who have the same breed as you. Join the Facebook groups, join the meet-ups. Then, you want to be consistent: walk your dog on a schedule, feed your dog on a schedule. Learn as much as possible about your dog and set boundaries. I think the next most important thing is to adopt another dog!

What’s the wildest part of your job?

No matter how many times I groom a dog, I never know what the end result will be. I know where I’m going, but I let my creativity and my shears do the work. I think that’s the most exciting thing about being a dog groomer.