Best Of 2005

BEST CONVENIENCE STORE WATCHDOG: Max, Gita Food Store

The life of a watchdog is a touchy one. You have to be imposing enough to scare the folks worth scaring, but docile enough not to freak out the reputable customers. Our boy Max, a German shepherd, does both perfectly. Does he spend most of his time lying down behind the counter, staring blankly at the wall of cigarettes? Sure. Are the neighborhood kids petrified of him? Absolutely. He’s the Old Southeast version of “The Beast” from The Sandlot — ruthless killer on the outside, lovable softie on the inside. That is, of course, assuming you don’t go slipping a can of tuna under your shirt. Don’t test him. 1700 Third St. S., St. Petersburg, 727-823-1992.