At this year’s National Dog Show, Aliya Taylor, a former Philadelphia police officer, accomplished two firsts — she introduced a new dog breed and is said to be one of the few Muslims participating in the dog show arena. “I have never, to my knowledge, encountered another Muslim woman while competing — at least, not another covered Muslim woman who was showing dogs,” says Ms. Taylor. “I had somebody tell me when I was first starting to show dogs, again, that nobody would take me seriously with [my hijab] on. I didn’t listen to them, obviously.”
Explaining how she first came across the rare dog bread known as Azawakh, Ms. Taylor says that she sought out a prominent breeder from Georgia who traveled to Africa and brought back two puppies. “The litter was a half desert bred, meaning that one of the parents was from Mali, Africa, the other parent was born here in the states… I fell in love with the dogs, and [the breeder] offered me a puppy. The rest is history.”
Taylor currently owns six Azawakhs and bred her first litter in 2016. According to Yahoo News, her second litter ensured that her dogs had a three-generation pedigree, meaning she would be able to compete with them in the hound group if the American Kennel Club (AKC) would accept the breed.