Leash up your dogs, put your cat in its stroller or harness your miniature potbellied pig. It's time for the Long Island Pet Expo, a three-day affair of shopping and entertainment for animal lovers that starts Friday in Brentwood. And you can bring your own pet, too.
"It's really a great event," says Nancy Hassel, president of American Pet Professionals, which is organizing the show, "whether you are a family coming with children, don't have pets, want to learn about pets, or learn about exotic animals."
The show offers a series of educational and entertaining activities geared toward animal lovers, provides information on pet rearing and shows off the talents of the animal world. Can you believe a double-Dutch jump-roping dog?
And new this year -- weight-pull demonstrations, where dogs in harnesses tug wheeled crates behind them, as learned at Doggie U K-9 Academy of Bay Shore.
"It's a dog sport done across the country, and no one was doing it here on Long Island," Hassel says.
Cats have a reputation of not being as eager to please as their barking counterparts -- but you can watch as they make their way through an agility course of hoops, tunnels and poles, courtesy of the Cat Fanciers' Association.
Well, that's if they feel like it.
Canines have a chance to shine in Samantha Valle's and Diana Frohman's "Amazing Performing Dogs" show, where their own pets do high jumps, Frisbee catches and some up-on-hind-legs antics. Valle's dog Geronimo has the distinction of being the Guinness Book of Records holder for double-Dutch jump-rope jumping for a dog.
"It took me forever to train her for that trick," Valle, a former Long Island resident who now lives in North Carolina, says of Geronimo, a cattle mix breed. "Last year, we broke the record on the 'Today' show." Geronimo jumped rope 128 times in one minute.
The Daschund Derby (noon-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday: $5 entry fee for dogs) is a new addition, where pet owners of that breed can unleash their short-legged loves for a lopsided dash to the finish line.
CREEPY CRAWLY FUN
See the lizards, snakes, turtles and even an alligator at the "Rainforest Reptile Show" on a separate stage. Many of the animals have been rescued from domestic situations.
Fred the alligator is always the main attraction, says Hassel, and has made TV appearances, including "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and "Piers Morgan Live."
There is a free show with Fred and his friends, as well as a trailer exhibit where -- for an extra $1 -- visitors can see rattlesnakes, cobras, a yellow anaconda, turtles and frogs behind glass. "We rescue 300 to 400 animals a year," says Michael Ralbovsky, co-owner of Rainforest Reptile Show in Massachusetts. "They get a second lease on life."
PETS ON PARADE
Guests' pets can be the stars of the show, too.
Any purebred dog can take part in the "Parade of Breeds" 4 p.m. Saturday -- advance registration is appreciated at 631-423-0620 or email karen@familypetshows. Pets with talent can try out for the "Best Tricks" contest 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Another special parade -- this one of animals available for adoption from local shelters and rescue groups -- is 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
LONG ISLAND PET EXPO
WHEN | WHERE 4-9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Suffolk County Community College Expo Center, 1001 Crooked Hill Rd., Brentwood
INFO 631-423-0620, familypetshows.com
COST $12 ($5 ages 4-12 except Friday, when kids 12 and younger are free)
BRINGING YOUR PET
All pets brought to the exposition must be on a short leash and have up-to-date vaccinations. See the expo's website for other restrictions.