By ROB JONAS
Cori Testo believes that dogs are at their happiest when they can be with other dogs. That is the concept behind Big and Small Dog Care in Colonie.
There are no crates where the dogs are locked up. They aren’t separated by breed or by size. Instead, they are allowed to play together and socialize with one another.
“It’s a controlled environment, and you have someone who knows what they’re doing with your dog,” said Testo. “You basically use your energy, and you let [the dogs] observe for a while and observe the other dogs – how they’re all playing. There’s no fighting, there’s no ill anything. It’s all good, good stuff. The dog who’s observing this … really wants to be a part of it so bad, they’ll do anything to do it.”
Testo said she will work with a new dog until she determines that he or she can safely join the rest of the pack.
“They’ll work really hard. They’re a pleasing animal – they want to please you, they want direction, they want to know what to do,” she said. “They feel good when they do things correct[ly].”
Testo started Big and Small Dog Care in May 2018 after returning to the Capital Region following five years of living in Florida. She started her post-graduate career opening a restaurant with several friends before switching gears to learn how to care for dogs from a woman in West Palm Beach who operated a doggy day care.
“I’ve always worked for myself. I’m more of a hands-on kind of person,” said Testo. “I make my own hours, but they’re long hours – usually 6:30 in the morning to 6:30 at night.”
Testo primarily works alone with the 8 to 18 dogs in her care during the day, though she get help from her boyfriend.
“Whenever he can, he comes in for a couple of hours to help me walk the dogs, fix a hose in one of the tubs, change a lightbulb,” said Testo. “Whatever I need help with, he’s always there for me.”
Though she works alone, Testo said she has the trust of her pack.
“It’s really about your energy,” she said. “The dog needs to trust me, so right away, I just open up to the dog and let them know they can trust me. Once I’ve established that bond with them, then we can get to work.”
Besides giving dogs the opportunity to socialize and play, Testo offers dog grooming and dog boarding services. There are stations set up at Big and Small for owners to give their canines a bath, or she can do that for them. If a dog owner is going on a vacation, Testo will watch over their pet until they come back.
“I really care about the animals. Their happiness and their safety is my No. 1 concern,” said Testo.
Big and Small Dog Care is located at 1997 Central Ave. in Colonie. For more information, visit its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Bigandsmallcomeonecomealldogcare).