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THE SCOOP ON THE BAY AREA

DOG PARKS

TAMPA

Davis Islands

(three paws)

Eventually some residents of nearby upscale neighborhoods started complaining about dogs running free at a beach at the island's south end, known to some as "Beer Can Beach." The complaints led to a crackdown, which led to a dog lover's backlash, which led to the establishment of a sanctioned off-leash area. Some pro-dog islanders even started boycotting a pharmacy operated by an island resident who howled loud and long about the dog problems.

The biggest of the bugaboos? You guessed it. Poop. Now that the city has established this off-leash area, make sure you clean it up.

PALM HARBOR

John Chesnut Sr. County Park

(three paws)

When your leashed pooch is padding down the nature trails at this lush, 255-acre park, she'll find it hard to believe she's in the most densely populated county in Florida. On one visit, a butterfly danced in front of Maggie's eyes and a snowy egret glided smoothly by Brooker Creek as we enjoyed the Peggy Park Nature Trail.

ST. PETERSBURG

Woodlawn Park

(fire hydrant _ not worth a squat)

Stop and smell the roses if you want, but you won't find much else here for the four-legged set. Aside from a tiny rose garden, this large park is dominated by ballfields, where dogs technically aren't allowed to romp, as well as a community center and the St. Petersburg Pistol Club. Your only option: a few strips of green.

NEW PORT RICHEY

J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park

(three and a half paws)

Horses, not dogs, are the favored animals here. Still, it's a heck of a place for a day hike. Lucky dogs might spot deer, turkeys or even a bobcat.

RESTAURANTS

TAMPA

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

4115 S MacDill Ave.

"We come here all the time," said a guy sitting next to his yellow hound, Cody. Take a seat under an umbrella-covered table and order a pint of beer on tap.

PORT RICHEY

Dogwater Cafe

11408 U.S. 19 N

It's hard to believe, but everyone at this casual restaurant is served food in dog bowls, whether they're human or canine. Dogs should feel quite at home at these picnic tables, considering the place's motto: "We treat you like the dog you are."

ST. PETE BEACH

Seaside Grill II

6850 Beach Plaza

Kicking back and enjoying a leisurely weekend breakfast al fresco is the big draw for restaurant patron Nora Hawkins and her trio of dachshunds _ Greta, Brisco and Ginger _ who quickly are served water whenever Hawkins makes the request.

Up next:SIDE SHOW

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