Saturday, January 20, 2018
Events

Dogs fly at Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge

By SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE

Downtown St. Petersburg's waterfront will be hounded by athletes of all breeds this weekend as nimble pooches from around the country make their way to Spa Beach Park to compete in the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge Eastern Regional.

One of the competitors will be Tampa's own Jordan Connelly, 20, right, a college student who at age 10 was invited to this same competition in 2003. That dog, Buck, is now 13 and retired, but Connelly has a 4-year-old border collie named Blitz, also shown at right, who is ready for the big show, she says.

In a typical run, the dogs will face 20 obstacles that can include jumps, tunnels, tires, a gang plank, a hinged A-frame that a dog has to both climb up and descend, and "weave poles" that look like the slalom course poles skiers whisk around.

There will be about 50 dogs from around the East at the park Saturday and they will compete in high-flying disc routines, head-to-head weave pole racing, large- and small-dog agility courses, Jack Russell hurdle racing and the crowd favorite: dog diving, where dogs take a running leap off a 40-foot dock into a 19,000-gallon pool of water.

"It's kind of crazy to look back and realize that I was 8 years old and training a dog," said Connelly, a University of Florida biology major. As a kid she hounded her parents for a dog and was obsessed with the Animal Planet's agility shows, so she gave it a try.

Connelly and Buck debuted in St. Petersburg in 2003. The next year, Purina started a Junior Handler division — and the pair won.

Connelly went on to graduate from Tampa's Chamberlain High School and at 16 got Blitz and started training again. She says it takes a good two years to get a dog ready for the obstacle course competition.

Even local dogs can get into the act. Organizers are opening it up Friday for both the diving and freestyle flying disc competitions. Dogs who make the cut will be invited to Saturday's competition. Visit barknetwork.com for more information.

The winners Saturday will qualify for the finals in St. Louis in October, where the national competition will be televised on NBC.

You can bring your own dog to watch these athletes. They will have shade, fans and water bowls set out. Competition begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and goes till about 4 p.m.

Comments
Gasparilla may be a raucous party to you, but it’s art to Charles Hessemer

Gasparilla may be a raucous party to you, but it’s art to Charles Hessemer

SOUTH TAMPA Charles P. Hessemer, 90 years young and about as sharp as the palette knives he paints with, finds artistic inspiration in the costumed-clad revelers of Tampa’s favorite annual event. The details in Hessemer’s oil painting s...
Published: 01/19/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 20

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 20

Tweed Ride: This popular leisurely bike ride around downtown St. Petersburg brings out ladies and gents in derby hats, vests, petticoats, lace-up boots and other fashionable vintage choices. Tea and scones served before the ride. After the ride, gath...
Published: 01/19/18
Banksy’s Haight Street Rat coming to Winter Haven gallery

Banksy’s Haight Street Rat coming to Winter Haven gallery

Fans of notorious street artist and activist Banksy won’t have to travel too far to see one of his original pieces, thanks to an exhibit opening on Jan. 27 at the Outer Space Gallery in Winter Haven. The "Haight Street Rat" will be on display, on the...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
‘Year in Provence’ author Peter Mayle dies at 78

‘Year in Provence’ author Peter Mayle dies at 78

Peter Mayle, whose international bestseller A Year in Provence sent countless tourists to the vineyards and lavender fields of Southern France, has died.In an email, Mr. Mayle’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, reported that he died Thursday in a hospital...
Published: 01/18/18

Things to Do in Pasco and Hernando counties starting Jan. 19

FestivalsFlorida Agriculture and Wildlife Expo and Rodeo: The three-day event will be from 4 to 10 p.m. Jan. 19, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 20 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 21 at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Airport, 2495 Broad St., south of Brooksville. Features ...
Published: 01/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Jan. 19

Steve Martin and Martin Short: The longtime actor-comedians and frequent collaborators present, An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life, featuring Martin’s bluegrass band, the Steep Canyon Rangers and Jeff Babko. 7 p.m., Mahaffey Theater...
Published: 01/18/18
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURG An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated t...
Published: 01/18/18
2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard. To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has...
Published: 01/18/18
‘Piratically speaking,’ NHL thrilled to don Gasparilla garb for All-Star Game

‘Piratically speaking,’ NHL thrilled to don Gasparilla garb for All-Star Game

TAMPA — Jose Gaspar, mythical pirate, meet Lord Stanley of Preston. Hang out, get to know one another, have as much fun as possible during the wrinkle in time that makes possible what will likely be a one-time-only encounter. Next weekend, th...
Published: 01/18/18
Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Tampa native Julie Harris worked for the City of Tampa for 22 years, under four mayoral administrations, until retiring as director of communications and neighborhood liaison in 2003.Her familiarity with Southeast Seminole Heights and countless conta...
Published: 01/18/18