The Long Island Pet Expo unleashes the usual hair-raising canine exploits this weekend, including the K-9 dog show (they run, jump, retrieve!) and the four-dog relay race known as Flyball.
But what if you are dog-tired of all the attention received by America's most popular domestic pet, who certainly had his or her day at the recent Westminster dog show?
Then you could always nuzzle with an alpaca or a potbellied pig, two of the non-canine, non-feline animals featured in the expo this time around.
Dennis Garetano of the Expo says that whatever species catches your eye, the Long Island Pet Expo's message is the same: "For kids to know there's a commitment to owning a pet."
Giving a hoot
The Birds of Prey exhibit will feature raptors such as a screech owl, a great horned owl and a red-tailed hawk. They will be accompanied by Dennis Fleury, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and educator at the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons in Hampton Bays. The 14-year-old nonprofit animal hospital rescues animals on the East End. The great horned owl, for instance, was rehabilitated after suffering a broken pelvis and broken wings, said the rescue center's Jim Hunter. You can ask Fleury questions about the raptors in a presentation that Hunter says is very child-friendly.
The Long Island Potbellied Pig Association will be bringing rescued pigs, which will perform tricks. Educational and adoption information will be available. Kathy Montreuil of North Babylon will be showing off her own 2-year-old potbellied pig, Newman. "A lot of people think he was named after the Seinfeld character, but he was actually named after Paul Newman because he was born with blue eyes, and he is a handsome pig," says Montreuil.
Illusion Ranch alpacas
These animals resembling small llamas originated in South America, but the soft, cuddly critters visiting the expo live in Pennsylvania. Visitors can pet adults and babies, which Garetano says have the softest fleece in the world. "They are very engaging, calm animals," Garetano adds. "You can look them right in the eye."
Rainforest reptile show
Learn about the natural world from Michael and Joaney Ralbovsky, nationally known wildlife rescuers. Their exhibit includes an albino alligator from the Louisiana bayou. There are only 30 alligators like it in the world, Garetano says.
Who let these dogs out?
Rick Caran, of Centerport, will be on hand with Jilli Dog, known as "The World's Only Poker-Playing Dog." The 5-pound, 12-ounce Yorkshire terrier was rescued from the streets of Huntington when she was a tiny puppy and now has a worldwide reputation, in part thanks to more than 200,000 hits on her YouTube video. (She also has played five-card no peek on TV with Bette Midler and Kelly Ripa.) "I'll be giving fun and easy tips on my unique training techniques," Caran says.
Dancing with dogs
Diana Frohman of Bay Shore will be boogying with her golden retrievers. They do freestyle - not the rap variety, but obedience demonstrations and tricks timed to music. Four-year-old Eddie likes "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus, while the younger Henry grooves to "ABC" by the Jackson 5.
The International Cat Association Cat Show gives felines their chance to be judged like canines. The show is "like Westminster for cats," Garetano says.
Members of the Gold Coast Feline Fanciers will be showing about 200 cats, including the Maine coon, Devon Rex, Ragdoll and Munchkin (short-legged) breeds. They will be walking six rings. A 12-judge panel will decide which is "Best Cat."
WHAT: Long Island Pet Expo
INFO: 631-423-0620, horseandpetexpo.com
ADMISSION: $12 ($5 ages 4-11)