As a pooch owner residing in the city of Florence, I take my responsibilities quite seriously. In fact, if anything is true in our household it’s that Ginger the beagle (@beagleinflorence) rules the roost. My husband Nico and I serve mainly as her overly-eager human lemmings, quivering at her jaded beagle glares and nonchalant ear-flap tosses that could give Beyoncé a run for her money in the “sass” department. She’s the only Florentine in our household and holds that over our heads on the daily as she trots confidently over the Ponte Vecchio each morning, thinking nothing of doing her business where most people pose for their trip-of-a-lifetime selfie.
photo Christine Juette
I could share with you all of the best spots for canine photo ops (Ginger prefers to plop down, floppy ear-to-dusty cobblestone, in the center of any crowd, but instead what’s infinitely more important than even a tasty, tossed-aside Fiorentina steak-bone (her words) is which shops, groomers and boarding options exist in our city to make your life as a pet owner much easier.
Looking for a place to stock up on pet food, beds, leashes and more? Lo Zoo Di Giovannino is a much-beloved family-run pet shop (piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti, 28) near Sant’Ambrogio, while Zoolandia is a popular chain with four locations around the city. Make sure to pick up the loyalty card for discounts on future purchases. L’Isola dei Tesori works essentially the same way (loyalty card included): Ginger likes to sniff her way to via Arnolfo 6/F weekly for her favorite jumbo pack of “dental sticks”.
Keep in mind that if you’re in a pinch, you can always find a basic selection of pet food, treats and waste bags at most supermarkets and better yet, mesticherie (local “everything” shops).
Canine “clothes” are another story—you won’t find those on the supermarket shelves. Simone Fammoni’s Emma Firenze creates runway-ready canine style that looks better than anything I’ve ever owned. Your dog will be the talk of the town in one of his signature cotton or tweed pullovers and one-of-a-kind-collars.
It might come as a surprise, but Florence is really dog-friendly, with many owners bringing their pooches everywhere they go (restaurants and even the movies). The grocery chain Conad also offers the chance to bring your furry best friend with you as you do your weekly shopping, as long as they stay in a special basket (look for the cart with the pup sign attached and “io posso entrare” written on it.)
GROOMERS AND VETS
For those whose furry friends need just a trim or perhaps a full shave, rest assured that there are more than a few options to pamper your pup in style. On via del Ponte Rosso you have Toelettatura Lanini, then there’s the aptly-named fancy-pants Piero Toilette (viale Francesco Petrarca, 90) and another favorite is Spazio Animali (via del Romito 20R).
There are plenty of vets located around the city but we go to the lovely ladies over at Ambulatorio Veterinario Petrarca (viale Francesco Petrarca, 48/B) who know Ginger by nuzzle and offer a 24-hour number should any emergency arise. They can also help with puppy passports!
Ginger is pretty picky when it comes to who takes care of her when we are away, but I can always rest easy when she’s with the team over at Tuscan Hound (formerly Florence Pet Sitting, in via del Campuccio) the first full-service (they even send you daily photos of your pet on WhatsApp!) pet care company in Florence. Whether it’s just for a walk or full-service boarding at their homes or yours, they truly do it all. Also worth noting? Their entire staff is trained and certified in emergency first aid, CPR and animal behavior.
Elisa Bacherini is part of a local non-profit dog-sitting service that uses volunteers to take care of your pets with all of the proceeds going towards animal welfare associations (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details).
DIPS FOR DOGGIES
One last hot tip for dog owners with water-shy pups: Swimming Dogs on via Pisana offers fab hydro-rehab sessions where your dog can learn how to beat their fears in a special pool and improve both their physical and mental well-being (note: owners can don a wet-suit and participate!)