Brianne Neabel has been quite the canine companion.
Born and raised in Auburn, Neabel spent her entire life surrounded by dogs, both at home and at the local shelter where she volunteered. And for years, she opened her heart and mind to man's best friend, rescuing pit bulls from the streets of Syracuse and South Carolina and studying psychology and animal behavior at St. Bonaventure University.
Now, she's opened her home to them as well.
On Jan. 1, Neabel officially opened the Puppy Parlour, a dog grooming business at her house in Auburn — something she's dreamed of for years.
Neabel, 25, has been professionally grooming dogs since 2013. After graduating college, she said, she came across a PetSmart ad looking for a dog bather in the Syracuse area.
"I grew up with dogs all my life so I've definitely always been an animal person ... and it just made sense that I work with them," Neabel said. "So I applied and got the job and then I just kind of fell in love with it. ... It's like I get free therapy dogs all the time."
Neabel said she trained for two years at PetSmart, which taught her a "good foundation" for grooming. Then, in 2015, she and her husband, Nick, moved to North Carolina, where she worked for private salons. And while Nick trained with the military, Neabel began grooming the idea of having her own business.
"It's always been in the back of my mind," she said. "But then I got comfortable working under other people."
Neabel said she ultimately tabled the idea for another two years. Then, last year, she and her husband received some exciting news: The couple was expecting a baby.
That's when Neabel decided to move back to Auburn, she said, so she could be with family while Nick was deployed. And that's when her business became a reality.
In August, Neabel received approval from the city of Auburn to start a dog grooming business at her home on Richardson Avenue. And in January, roughly three months after the birth of her daughter, she opened the Puppy Parlour.
"It sounds like we needed it in Auburn," she said. "There's a few other salons, but I've heard they're either booked up or they don't take big dogs, and I have an open schedule and I accept all dogs."
With a large driveway for off-street parking, clients can enter the parlour at the back of her home. There, Neabel has a roughly 80-square-foot space, featuring a brand new tub and table.
For now, Neabel said, grooming is by appointment only. Owners can schedule anything from a quick nail clipping or grinding to a full bath, blow-dry and trim. She asks clients to drop off their dog — with proof of rabies vaccination — so she can work with the animal one-on-one. And for those who are hesitant about leaving their dog alone, Neabel said she plans to install a camera so owners can live-stream the grooming.
"A lot of people are nervous about leaving their dogs with groomers, so the camera would put you at ease," she said. "This way, you can watch from home as I work on your dogs."
So far, Neabel said, the parlour is doing well. She's had a wide range of groomings, from a small, short-haired Boston terrier named Winston to a 50-plus-pound black Lab named Pepper. And while she works with others' dogs in the back, her family supports her up front, keeping an eye on her daughter and her own fur-babies, Buster and Juno.
"I love being able to stay home with (my daughter) and being able to continue working with dogs all the time," she said, smiling as she gave a golden retriever named Teddy a bath. "It just makes sense."