It began like many niche groups this year – during the long isolation of shutdowns.
Yet, the Italian Greyhound Community of St. Petersburg found comfort through the loneliest parts of the pandemic, and has now become a staple for some of the owners of this breed.
“I got the idea from a Tampa greyhound rescue, and I didn’t want to compete, just responsibly create a meet-up,” founder Aron Bryce said. “It just organically grew from there.”
Since the first few meetings in September of this year, the Facebook group has attracted new members, many owning more than one tiny friend.
“I’ve always had Italian Greyhounds, and this has always led to meetups,” group member Kathryn Farrell said. “People are so passionate about these dogs, and it makes sense especially now.”
After getting together in several St. Petersburg dog-friendly areas, including Vinoy Park’s small dog park and Northshore Dog Park, the group chose to meet in Gulfport’s Chase Park Sunday, December 27. Bryce plans to continue to meet, masked and six feet apart, at different dog-friendly spaces in the area.
“That’s the beauty of it: we can organize wherever,” Bryce said. “All the dogs want to do is cuddle and run.”
With up to 20 long-legged pets at any giving meeting, owners have passionate stories and breed quirks to share while letting their fur babies run rampant.
Farrell is no different, and her 10-year-old Italian Greyhound, Dolce, has quite the story to tell.
“She was a champion show dog, and when they no longer could use her, they utilized her for breeding,” Farrell said. “She had never even stepped on grass, and the first time I let her sleep on my bed she was like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”
Meetings are often spontaneous, with owners coming out from all around the Tampa Bay area, so folks can keep updated at the Italian Greyhound Community of St. Petersburg Facebook page. Anyone with a pocket sized pal can also attend since the creation of Bryce’s second group, Small Dog Community of St. Petersburg.
“The whole point of the group is so that the dogs can get out their energy and socialize – this breed has a need for that.” Bryce said before adjusting the turtleneck on his 1-year-old greyhound, Koda.