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Photo of a dog with a handkerchief around its neck.

The Dogs of Water Street Tampa

No matter the day, the stars are always out.

Written by Jen Ring

The extreme walkability of Water Street Tampa lends itself quite nicely to residents and visitors who may want to bring their four-legged furry friends along for a trip in Tampa’s newest neighborhood. There you’ll see Corgis congregating at Sparkman Wharf, Maltipoos at the Meridian Dog Run, Chihuahuas walking down Channelside Drive, Weimaraners on Water Street, myriad Maltese on S. Meridian Ave., and Terriers on Tampa Riverwalk. They get pup cups at Chill Bros. Scoop Shop and duck into Modern Paw’s, a Sparkman Wharf hot spot for dog treats, toys, and apparel. In short, Water Street Tampa has gone to the dogs. And that’s a good thing.

It’s easy to see why. Lots of bright, sunny outdoor space and year-round warm weather makes it the perfect spot for dog lovers who enjoy city life and quick bites. There also happen to be a ton of pet-friendly events in Water Street Tampa as well. The multi-block section of Tampa all but entirely transformed into a walkable urban waterfront utopia for dogs and humans alike.

Obie: A Great Dane Doing Great Things and his owner

Tampa resident Brian Pengelly and his Instagram-famous dog, Copper, walked over to Sparkman Wharf on its opening day just four years ago. An event photographer snapped Copper’s pic, shared it on the official Sparkman Wharf IG, and with that came Copper’s new-found fame. It’s easy to see how the Mini Goldendoodle (who now has over 44.5k followers) became so popular. At only ten pounds, Copper has massive cuddle appeal.
“I felt a pull toward her,” Pengelly says about his first meeting with Copper, “I knew she was exactly what I was looking for.”

He felt a similar pull on that fateful first visit to Sparkman Wharf.
“I felt like it was going to be something that would pull a lot more people in,” he says.
And it has. Over the past three years, Brian’s had a front seat to all the changes that have to come to the Water Street area.

I love how walkable and pet friendly it is here. I can bring Copper everywhere, which is a lot of fun for us both!

Pengelly and Copper aren’t alone. Lots of folks are walking Water Street with their doggos. We unleashed (get it?) a couple photographers into the neighborhood to capture a few and learn their stories. Good dogs, all.

Callie Doodle Dog Gets Doodle Down

Callie Doodle Dog Gets Doodle Down

Callie Doodle Dog | @callie.doodle.dog
When Tampa resident Jennifer Heckner made an IG handle for her dog Callie, the blue-eyed Aussie doodle was only eight weeks old.

“It gave me an outlet to meet other dog parents,” says Heckner.

Two years later, Callie has more than 2,000 followers, and Jen is one of five admins for The Dog Moms of Tampa Bay (@thedogmomsoftampabay), a group of…perhaps unsurprisingly…dog moms who host monthly meetups and events across the Tampa Bay area.
Outside of the office, Callie and Heckner are inseparable. They go to Lightning watch parties together, parks and bars, and, naturally, Sparkman Wharf.

The two have been hanging out in Water Street Tampa for about a year now and love the walkability and dog-friendly vibes.

“There are water bowls out near almost every business,” Heckner says. “And it’s fun to be able to bring her to so many places with me.”

Benji Stays Golden

Benji Stays Golden

Benji | @dooditsbenji13
Tampa native Liana Peguero and her Goldendoodle Benji live about a 10 to 15-minute drive away from Water Street Tampa and usually come to Sparkman Wharf by boat on weekends, traveling down the Hillsborough River from Armature Works in historic Tampa Heights.
Benji is calm in nature, super fluffy, and…loves to eat socks.

“He knows he’s not supposed to eat them, but he does anyway,” says Peguero. “He had to go to the vet last week…”

When he’s not making emergency trips to the dog doc, Benji enjoys eating (non-sock) treats, sleeping in, playing in the yard, and those boat rides to Water Street. On their weekend visits, Peguero and Benji enjoy walking the neighborhood, taking pictures by the IG-famous Tampa sign, and getting treats at Modern Paws. (The salmon sticks are Benji’s favorite. At least until they make a sock flavor.)

The People’s Champ: Rocky

The People’s Champ: Rocky

Rocky | @doobierockylouie

When Samantha rescued her Shepherd mix, Rocky, from a Washington shelter, he was only four days away from being euthanized. “Because he was high energy, but what eight-month-old isn’t?” she asks.

Samantha moved to Water Street Tampa with Rocky in October 2022, and the two are enjoying their new home at the dog-friendly Heron, one of the newest residential buildings in the area.

“Rocky loves Heron,” says Samantha. “He’s friends with everybody. He loves to see the concierge in the morning, and there are a lot of dogs there too, so he gets to say hi to everybody.”

Outside of Heron, Samantha tells us that Rocky enjoys listening to the live bands at Sparkman Wharf, visiting the parks, walking the Riverwalk, pup cups, and shopping at Modern Paws.

Oski: This Spaniel Don’t Hunt

Oski: This Spaniel Don’t Hunt

Oski the Boykin | @oski.theboykin
You can’t hunt in the city, but that didn’t stop Shayna Scott from requesting a Boykin Spaniel as a graduation present in March 2020. Hunting dogs are kind of a Scott tradition—there are six in the family. (Hers is named Oski.)

Two years later, the University of Tampa grad tells us, “my whole world is dogs.”
Scott started Instagramming her pup from the moment she first got him, and she’s been posting regularly since. Oski’s IG documents what it’s like here for Tampa dogs, from summer swims at Davis Island to jaunts at Hair of the Dog Park (a dog-bar), Two Shepherds Taproom, and, of course, outdoors at Sparkman Wharf.

“Oski loves going on walks to Sparkman to visit Modern Paws to pick out a toy and a treat,” says Scott. “I walk him there most mornings to get my iced matcha from Fit Bowl Co…Oski loves getting his peanut butter pup cup from Chill Bros. ice cream and watching the Lightning win at watch parties.”

Yeti and Yara are Tampa Baes

Yeti and Yara | @natandyeti
Yeti and Yara have two things in common. They’re both English bulldogs and they both love mealtime. Other than that, the two couldn’t be more different.

“Yeti got placed into my life,” says his owner Natalie. “You don’t find your English Bulldog. Your English Bulldog finds you.”

Last summer, her second, Yara, found her at the Humane Society of Pasco County.
“He’s active and she’s cuddly—they’re like opposites,” she says.
The two pups live together in a doggie-dreamland of Natalie’s creation.

“I do pet care for a living so my whole house is designed for pets to play and have fun in,” she says. “I xeriscaped my yard to make it dog-friendly.”

The Tampa dog sitter spends her days walking dogs, playing with dogs, and providing overnight care for other people’s dogs.

“We all love being outside,” she says. “The Water Street Tampa neighborhood offers so much mental and physical stimulation for pups while keeping their parents entertained. It’s bonding to do activities with your dogs, great for their mental health and a beautiful way to meet your community.”

Obie: A Great Dane Doing Great Things

Obie: A Great Dane Doing Great Things

Obie | @obie_thedane

Water Street Tampa resident Julius Tobin met his dog Obie at LightHaus Beer Garden in Sparkman Wharf a year and a half ago. Obie’s then owner was deployed in the US Military. A family member was trying to re-home the dog when he met Tobin on that fateful day drinking brews by the Bay.

He wasn’t looking for a dog, but the easy going, personable Great Dane won him over.

“I really wanted him to be a community dog,” says Tobin.

He took Obie out on the town and was surprised by how well he got along with others. It seemed like everywhere Obie went, he brightened someone’s day. “We call it the Obie Effect,” he says of the phenomenon.

Whether they’re at Thunder Alley during Lightning games, at Amalie Arena before concerts, everyone gets along with Obie.

There’s no typical week for Obie and his owner. As the co-founder of onbikes, a nonprofit dedicated to getting at-risk kids their first bikes, Tobin goes out into the community with Obie as much as possible. Obie—whose name sounds like the initials of onbikes, O.B.—is the company’s mascot.

When they’re not working, Tobin and Obie enjoy walking around Water Street Tampa.

“There’s not a lot of places we can go together, and that’s beautiful,” says Tobin.