Enjoying the dog beach are, from left, Jack, an Irish Setter; Kathy Farrell; golden retrievers Paislee and Rosie; Donna Valery; David Quasius and his dachshund, Blackjack, and Donna Howe.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS – Dog days are back at Belleair Beach Causeway’s dog beach.
Since its reopening to the public Jan. 1, canines and their owners are discovering anew the joys of a frolic in the surf and sand on the area’s only dog-friendly beach.
The stretch of sand that lies to the south of the Belleair Beach Causeway Bridge at the east end had been closed to the public since bridge construction began in March 2007. The place is the same as it was before, but it is now accessible under the high-level bridge from the boat ramp parking lot.
“Dog beach,” as the locals fondly call it, is one of only three beaches in Pinellas County where dogs can roam free, according to David Quasius of Largo.
Quasius was taking Blackjack, his dachshund, for his first visit Jan. 23.
“I like to fish with my dog,” he said, “and I can’t do it anywhere else.”
Planned steps and a ramp from the parking lot to the beach have not yet been built, but a mound of packed sand was a convenient substitute for Rosie, a golden retriever, and her owner Donna Valery of Indian Rocks Beach. Rosie gleefully bounded down to the beach after an exercise trek across the new bridge. Joining Valery and Rosie on the hike from Indian Rocks Beach were Kathy Farrell and her Irish Setter, Jack.
“I’m a happy boy,” quipped Kathy as she watched Jack run laps.
The beach is much bigger now than before the bridge construction, she believes.
Paislee, a rescue dog from New Orleans, stuck close with her owner, Donna Howe, as the two explored the beach. Howe grew up in Belleair Beach and now lives in Largo.
“Paislee and I are going to make Dog Beach our weekend retreat,” she vowed.
Valery nodded in agreement as she watched Rosie swim out to fetch her ball.
“She hasn’t played on the beach for awhile,” Valery said. “We’re glad to be back.”