The Little Dog Lounge offers all that a small dog could ask for — large areas to socialize in, toys to play with and time to get groomed without being under the shadow of larger dogs.
Maree Chiera and Judy Carioto opened The Little Dog Lounge on Monday, Nov. 24, only two weeks after they bought the Loudonville storefront at 637 New Loudon Road. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held the previous Thursday, Nov. 20, with the Colonie Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the new business.
The Lounge only offers services for dogs 35 pounds and under. The reason being, Chiera said, is “because injuries do happen” when mixing smaller and larger breeds. With each of her own dogs less than 10 pounds, she knew that mixing larger and smaller dogs at daycares could be nerve-wracking for small dog owners, and she wanted to create a place where dog owners can escape that fear.
With a staff of nine people training to learn the ropes of a dog-based business, the Lounge offers everything from full and half-day daycare, grooming, express wash and go services, boarding and a taxi service for people who may not be able to drop their dogs off at the Lounge themselves, and Chiera said agility training might also be offered in the future.
A real estate broker for 15 years, Chiera said her love of small dogs was one of several factors that spawned the idea for the Lounge. After being friends for several years, Chiera and co-owner Carioto, a registered dietitian, both decided to expand upon their love for smaller dog breeds.
“I’ve always had a passion for small dogs, all dogs, but specifically small ones, and as a business woman, I’ve opened two gyms, so I’ve opened businesses before. It’s one of those ideas I thought about maybe four or five years ago and just waited for the right spot to open up,” said Chiera.
Along with eliminating injuries from mixing breed sizes, faltering sanitary conditions at some daycare and spa facilities were also an inspiration for the business. With waiting lists of 50 to 100 dogs, Chiera said that the unsanitary environment in some dog-based businesses did not make such a long wait worthwhile.
“I understand you’re working in the pet industry and things happen, things get dirty,” she said. “But I never dropped my dog off, and I wouldn’t.”
As a pet owner, Chiera said she knows firsthand how much disposable income people could spend on their pets each month and how there is room to expand in the future.
“I loved the whole feel of it,” Chiera said of the business idea. “And I know dogs love to socialize and how important it is for dogs to socialize. Our whole model here is relax, socialize and unwind. That’s really what we’re here for.”
Already, The Little Dog Lounge has seen small dog owners come and let their dogs socialize, using the opportunity for a free first visit. The Lounge includes a seating area for owners, grooming facilities and large enclosed areas for the dogs to play in. A retail section offers treats, dog clothes, pillows and chew toys decorated with the Lounge’s logo.
Although the Lounge just opened, Chiera said expansion is possible in the future. Last week, she obtained the business rights to The Large Dog Lounge after owners of larger dog breeds expressed an interest in the Lounge, but found their dogs were above the weight limit.
What Chiera said she ultimately hopes for the Little Dog Lounge, though, is that owners will find the environment just as appealing as their dogs do.
“I wanted this to be a homey feel, a community. I want other pet owners to meet each other and have that bond and that network,” she said. “I want people to come in here and hang out. I want that sense of community to be brought in here.”