Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

LABRADOR LIFTOFF WAS WET AND WILD; Dogs Compete at Pet Expo to Help Humane Society

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

LABRADOR LIFTOFF WAS WET AND WILD; Dogs Compete at Pet Expo to Help Humane Society

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM AASEN

There were all types of dogs Saturday at the Pet Expo at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds.

Dogs catching flying discs. Dogs racing through an obstacle course. Dogs leaping 22 feet into a pool.

There were people there, too, of course. About 10,000 are expected to attend the event, which raises money for the Jacksonville Humane Society. The Pet Expo continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and costs $8 for adults and $4 for children. Pets are welcome.

Attendees could see exotic animals such as snakes, a wallaby and a chinchilla. There was an owner-pet look alike contest, a tail-wagging contest and a dog-kissing competition.

Jeff Corwin, an Emmy-winning host on the Animal Planet TV network, shared his stories with about 500 people. While he was asking for volunteers, 7-year-old Zachary Said of Jacksonville kept leaping out of his chair with his arm raised.

"Pick me! I watch Animal Planet every day!" he said.

Zachary finally got picked to come on stage, where he was asked to close his eyes and hold his hands out, only to recoil when a 10-foot crocodile monitor was carried out.

It could have been scarier. The next kid held an alligator.

"I'm glad I went before that," he said. "What's next? A rattlesnake?"

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Corwin talked quite a bit about his efforts against climate change. He said Floridians should be especially concerned because of hurricanes, endangered Florida species and eroding coastlines.

One of the highlights of the day was the Ultimate Air Dogs diving competition. Dogs raced up a plank and chased a ball into a tank. Owners trained their pets to leap as far as they can. Some dogs needed coaxing, but others were all but too eager to get in the water.

"She just won't stop. She thinks every ball is hers. She's a competitor," said Nancy Aiken of her chocolate Labrador named Sally. Aiken, 55, drove from Athens, Ga., to compete in the event.

It's been a difficult year for the Jacksonville Humane Society. …

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