According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 39 percent of all households in the United States have at least one dog and 33 percent have at least one cat. Here in the East Bay, those numbers seem a wee bit low — it looks to us like everyone has at least one dog, or cat, or rabbit, or gecko, tortoise, chicken or lovebird ... or a mix of all of the above. Modern life being what it is, it’s not always easy to find the supplies, information and hidden treasures for our pets across the East Bay. So we spent a little time digging up some species-specific information for you on the best places to get your pets, go with your pets and grab some good supplies. Plus we put on the First Ever East Bay Dog Biscuit Taste-off. The results may surprise you!
So you’ve got a new dog. And you’re oh-so-ready to show her off at the dog park. Can you just open the gate and let her go wild? Um … no. Dogs have certain rules about who can do what when. So, too, do dog parks. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Be patient. Don’t bring a puppy younger than 4 months old to a dog park. She won’t have had all the vaccinations she needs. She’ll also need to take a puppy socialization class before going to the park so that she learns how to greet and play with other dogs properly.
2. Be sensitive. Don’t assume that your dog is going to go hog wild the minute she gets there. She may be nervous around other dogs or in a big new space. Let her hang out next to you, on leash, until she feels comfortable. Even then, be aware that not all dogs enjoy rough-and-tumble play. Your dog may be happiest strolling around the perimeter of the park with you — or playing fetch someplace else.
3. Be discreet about treats. Even the best-behaved dogs can get pushy when someone pulls out snacks. If you end up with a crowd of over-eager pups begging for treats, a fight might start. Try to only treat your dog when other dogs aren’t around.
4. Keep your dog on leash. If she isn’t yet under voice command, your dog should be on the leash. You need to be able to control her from a distance if trouble arises.
5. Clean up after yourself (and your dog). Yes, it’s a dog park. But nobody wants to step in dog poo. Really. So bring bags and keep an eye on your dog. For extra canine karma points, clean up a pile that somebody else left behind, too.
6. Watch your dog. If you’re checking Facebook on your Smartphone, you won’t see play that’s getting too aggressive or a chase that seems slightly overzealous. And that means a borderline situation may spiral out of control before you can intervene.
7. Watch the other dogs. If you see a dog that appears to be sick, aggressive or just has a style of play that you know will bug your own dog, keep the two apart.
8. Close the gates. A gate left open even a crack may tempt other dogs to leave the park. Be extra sure that all gates are closed and latched behind you.
9. Leave. If your own dog is getting overly boisterous or aggressive, it’s time to leave. It’s your responsibility to protect the other dogs.
10. Watch your (human) kids. If you bring your kiddos to the dog park, keep a careful eye on them. Not all dogs are comfortable with children. And even those that love them may be inspired to chase if they see one running.
Yes, there are lots and lots of beautiful places in the East Bay where you can roam with Rover — including trails in the East Bay hills, beaches and enclosed dog parks large and small. But we think the most fun for dog and owner alike is the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, a 23-acre park in Richmond. It’s not the most gorgeous trail in this corner of the world, but your dogs can romp, swim and get muddy — and then you can give them a bath (or have someone else give them a bath) at Mudpuppy’s Tub & Scrub. Top it off with coffee and a pastry, a sandwich, smoothie, hot dog or steaming bowl of chili at Sit & Stay Cafe, right next door to the dog wash.
Every city has its difficult pet law — the island of Alameda allows no dogs on its beach, for instance, and many cities have limits on how many dogs one can own. But Oakland — the land of oaks! — has the most onerous law of all. With the exception of just a handful of places (mostly dog parks within city parks), no dogs are allowed in the city’s 1,000-plus acres of city-owned parklands, not even on leash. Nor are they allowed at playgrounds, schools or playing fields. ODOG, or the Oakland Dog Owners Group (www.odogparks.org), by the way, wants to change much of that, so see how you can help.
Got feral cats in your neighborhood? Call East Bay SPCA’s Feral Fix Program to get a referral for free spay and neutering — but only if you’re willing to a) trap the cat (they’ll provide a trap and training); b) bring the wild kitty in to be neutered/spayed c) take care of it for one to three days afterward; and then d) return it to the wild (or the city, as the case may be). You can get more information at www.eastbayspca.org, and you can talk to someone at the Feral Fix Program hotline at (510) 563-4635.
Dogs get all the beauty attention — but cats often need a good grooming, too. Why? Because sometimes they get fleas and ticks. Or the long-haired kitties’ tresses get tangled. Or the nail-trimming thing turns into something not so nice for kitty and owner. In those cases, you may want to find a groomer who is as finicky about feline fur as about dog ’dos, such as:
Well, maybe not save the world. But you sure can do good. During this year’s 4th Annual Maddie’s Matchmaker Adoptathon, more than 60 organizations in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties will offer animals for free. Added bonus? For each animal adopted, Maddie’s Fund will donate $500 to the rescue organization adopting out the animal. (If the animal is a senior or needs special veterinary care, the organization will donate $1,000 to the group doing the adoption.) This year’s adoptathon takes place June 9 and 10. Last year 2,312 animals were adopted during the event; this year the organizers hope to see 3,000 animals adopted and $3 million dispersed to rescue organizations. Want more info? Go to: www.maddieadoptathon.org
No question about it: The East Bay Vivarium offers more creepy, crawly critters than any place in the Bay Area. Whether you want an Angolan python or a hissing cockroach, a fantasy horned frog or an African spurred tortoise, the Vivarium is the place for reptiles, amphibians and arachnids — plus books, supplies and expert tips on how to care for these beasts. The largest and oldest retail herpetological store in the country, the Vivarium also has an ongoing breeding program, supplies zoos and schools with various creatures, and provides educational presentations for birthday parties, meetings, libraries and other venues.
1827-C Fifth St., Berkeley, (510) 841-1400, www.eastbayvivarium.com
Whether you see your chickens as pets or something more utilitarian, having ready access to other local chicken keepers can be invaluable, especially when you have a question about raising chicks, choosing the right feeds and breeds, building a proper coop, finding equipment or diagnosing an illness. Luckily, the East Bay is home to several rocking, bawking chicken listservs (basically private email groups) that address all sorts of fowl topics and welcome newbies and experienced peeps alike.
Lots of people hop into the world of pet rabbits knowing little more than that they’re cute (think twitchy noses) and they like carrots. But rabbits actually require specialized care — meaning the right kind of food, enclosure and medical care, along with lots of love and attention. You can learn all about that, plus pick up supplies and adopt a rabbit, at the House Rabbit Society’s International Headquarters up in Richmond. The facility, which includes a shelter and adoption center for rescued rabbits, also provides grooming, boarding, vet referrals and classes.
148 Broadway, Richmond, (510) 970-7575, www.rabbit.org
Pet lovers tend to have a soft spot for wildlife, too, but what’s a kind soul to do after finding a fallen finch, a downed duck or a traumatized turtle in the East Bay? Drive them over to Montclair Veterinary Hospital, which serves as a courier for Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Just make sure they’re in a secure box (or a paper bag) and don’t feed them food or water (they can get sick if you don’t give them the right kind). If you find orphaned, baby animals, you can also call the Oakland-based Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue, which will give you tips on what to do and possibly take in the baby.
Lots of local pet owners know that VCA Bay Area Animal Specialists in San Leandro houses a 24/7 emergency hospital. But not everyone knows that this is the best place to go if your pet needs a dermatologist, ophthalmologist, cardiologist or oncologist, too. It’s not as far as you might think — just 10 minutes past the Oakland airport. And it’s clean, organized, and — get this — super punctual.
14790 Washington Ave., San Leandro, (510) 483-7387 www.vcaspecialtyvets.com/bay-area-specialists
The death of a pet hits most people hard, but it can hit some people harder than others. And unfortunately, our culture doesn’t entirely support those kinds of feelings. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with grief, or you just want to talk out your feelings, the East Bay offers several resources, including private therapists and support groups, such as:
Audrey Spector, M.A., M.F.T. (510) 704-5502 • www.audreyspector.com
Individual counseling (specializes in helping people through their animals’ last stages of life)
Jill Goodfriend, R.N., L.C.S.W. (510) 393-1359 • (email@example.com)
Private sessions (including at your home)
Pet loss support groups at
Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society 2700 Ninth St., Berkeley Oakland, (510) 845-7735 • www.berkeleyhumane.org
Animals that are seriously ill or injured at night or on a weekend can’t always wait until your regular veterinary office opens. In those cases, it’s good to know who your nearest emergency vet is – and how to get there. Note: You generally don’t need appointments at these clinics, but it’s always a good idea to call ahead, just so they can be prepared for your arrival.
Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital • Special Veterinary Services
2126 Haste St., Berkeley • (510) 848-5041
Emergency service: 24/7
Dogs, cats and exotics
Pet Emergency Treatment Service
1048 University Ave., Berkeley • (510) 548-6684
Emergency service: After-hours, daily
Bay Area Veterinary • Specialists & Emergency Hospital
14790 Washington Ave., San Leandro • (510) 483-7387
Emergency Service: 24/7
Dogs, cats and exotics
Just as alternative and complementary medicine is becoming more popular with humans, so, too, is it becoming more popular for pets. And the East Bay, as it turns out, offers a wealth of alternative health practitioners for animals, including:
Michael Gleason, Chiropractor
Large and small animals
East Bay, Contra Costa County
(209) 833-3814, (800) 499-7710
Betsey Carpenter, Chiropractor
Cats, dogs, horses, exotics
East Bay Area • (415) 282-0988
Anne Reed, D.V.M.
Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, nutrition
249B Tewksbury Road, Point Richmond,
(510) 232-5303 • www.holisticpetvet.net
Creature Comfort Holistic Veterinary Center
Integrative services, including conventional veterinary medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy, and nutritional counseling
2501 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland
(510) 530-1373 • www.creaturecomfort.com
VCA Bay Area Animal Hospital
Acupuncture, herbs, chiropractic
4501 Shattuck Ave., Oakland
(510) 654-8375 • www.vcahospitals.com/bay-area
Holistic Veterinary Care and Rehabilitation Center
Acupuncture, physical rehabilitation, herbal therapy, chiropractic, massage, Reiki, pulsed signal therapy, nutrition counseling
1969 Piedmont Ave., Oakland
(510) 339-2600 • www.holisticvetcare.com
Pet Club in Emeryville stocks everything from brine shrimp to Great Dane–sized crates, plus a huge range of food and supplies for rabbits, chickens, lizards, cats, fish, pocket pets and birds. It’s not a fancy place, but the prices are typically about one-third lower than even the chain stores in the Bay Area. Plus it offers weekly coupons on its website. (www.petclubstores.com).
3535 Hollis St., Emeryville, (510) 595-7955
Another great supplier of pet stuff with predictably good prices is PetVet/Petfood, an indie operator that combines a pet store with vet services. The clinics are always super crowded.
4814 Broadway, Oakland, (510) 652-9822;
6000 Potrero Ave., El Cerrito, (510) 215-5101;
Sure, you can buy your dog a $20 mat in a sort of unassuming gray-tone color at one of the big chain stores. But if your dog is large, or has arthritis or just plain prefers a comfier place to sleep — or if you’re looking for something that’s actually good looking and made from high-quality materials and by a family-owned business — For Your Dogs Only, in Berkeley, has the goods. With its beautiful fabrics (you can choose from cotton, microfiber, fleece or tapestry), stuffing fabrics (choose comfy loft or orthopedic foam) and reputation for durability, FYDO is kind of like the European Sleep Works of the dog world. Here’s the rub: FYDO is wholesale and doesn’t have a storefront. But you can find the beds at local pet stores, including:
Dog Bone Alley, 1342 Park St., Alameda, (510) 521-5800
Holistic Hound, 1510 Walnut St., Berkeley, (510) 843-2133
Red Hound, 5523 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 428-2785
Or you can buy directly from FYDO online.
FYDO, (510) 527-6512, www.foryourdogsonly.com
Discerning dogs — those who want only whole grain, organic food; all-natural, plant-based remedies; and the very finest in collars, leashes, beds and other supplies go to Holistic Hound in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. (Or at least their owners do.) This is indeed a gorgeous little store, filled with all kinds of specialty items to make your hound healthier and happier.
1510 Walnut St., Berkeley, (510) 843-2133, www.holistichound.com
The dog days of August are almost upon us, which means you scream, we scream, we all scream (and bark) for ice cream. The East Bay boasts three top-of-the-line places that have outside tables where dogs are welcome. And although it would be irresponsible for us to suggest you give your dog ice cream, we know they’d enjoy the outing.
Fentons Creamery & Restaurant
4226 Piedmont Ave., Oakland
(510) 658-7000 • www.fentonscreamery.com
Tuckers Super Creamed Ice Cream
1349 Park St., Alameda
(510) 522-4960 • www.tuckersicecream.com
Caffe Trieste (serving gelato)
2500 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley
(510) 548-5198 • www.caffetriesteberkeley.com
You would think that pet psychics, also called “animal communicators,” would be a dime a dozen in the Bay Area. But there aren’t that many of them. If you’re looking for someone to investigate your cat’s penchant for peeing in your shoes or your bird’s deepest feelings about her new home, you can try Elizabeth Fulton in El Cerrito or Charles Peden in Oakland. And if you want to learn how to become an animal communicator, get in touch with
Assisi International Animal Institute in Oakland, which provides certification programs (www.assisianimals.org/about.html).
For the epitome of the literary pet lifestyle, take your dog to a dog-friendly bookstore. Then wander around the stacks looking for dog-starring novels (Call of the Wild, anyone?), coffee table books (Tim Flach’s Dogs is gorgeous) and, of course, memoirs (Marley and Me). Some dogs might also want to check out the books on cats. We recommend Cat Training in 10 Minutes, Bad Cat and, of course, The Cat in the Hat.
Different pets have different personalities, so generalizing about traits can be risky. Still, researching different breeds can help you narrow down just what kind of animal will fit into your life and home. Are you a lover of peace and quiet? A talkative Siamese cat might annoy you. Do you want a dog to run with you? A giant or toy breed probably won’t work. Are you a first-time dog owner? A smart, tending-toward-dominance breed (think German shepherd) may not be a good bet. Got no time? A dog that needs a lot of mental and physical stimulation (Border collie) will go nuts without jobs to do.
Pets need food, supplies and toys. Dogs need training, and both cats and dogs need some kind of care while you’re out of town. They also need medical care. An animal that has chronic medical problems can turn out to be a very, very expensive proposition. But even occasional medical issues can cost anywhere from $250 to $2,500 or more. Make sure you’ve got enough money to cover the regular bills and the unexpected ones.
Kittens, puppies and baby bunnies are adorable when they’re young. But they also can be a lot of work — in terms of needing attention, supervision, and training. Adult animals tend to be more settled, but they may bring more emotional (and physical) baggage. Do your research carefully to make sure you understand a) what you can expect at different ages in the species you’re considering and b) the personality of the individual animals that you’re conseidering.
Bad Rap | Dedicated to both adopting out pit bulls and educating the public on the breed.
Also provides training and consulting on laws related to pit bulls.
www.badrap.org • firstname.lastname@example.org
House Rabbit Society | Best place to adopt a socialized, “fixed” bunny in the Bay Area.
148 Broadway, Richmond • (510) 970-7575 • www.rabbit.org
Island Cat Rescue | Kittens, adult and geriatric cats available year-round.
P.O. Box 1093, Alameda • (510) 869-2584 • www.icraeastbay.org
Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society | Dog and cat adoptions, spay/neuter clinic, training, behavior advice line.
2700 Ninth St., Berkeley • (510) 845-7735 • www.berkeleyhumane.org
HopAlong Animal Rescue | Dogs and cats only. Most animals are in foster homes.
P.O. Box 27507, Oakland • (510) 267-1915 • www.hopalong.org
Oakland Animal Services | Dogs, cats, rabbits
1101 29th Ave., Oakland • (510) 535-5602 • www.oaklandanimalservices.org
Berkeley Animal Shelter | Dogs, cats, birds, rodents, rabbits
2013 Second St., Berkeley • (510) 981-6600 • www.ci.berkeley.ca.us
Alameda Animal Shelter | Dogs, cats, birds, rodents, rabbits
1590 Fortmann Way, Alameda • (510) 337-8565
Your Basic Bird
2940 College Ave., Berkeley • (510) 841-7617
House Rabbit Society
148 Broadway, Richmond • (510) 970-7575
420 Hegenberger Road, Oakland • (510) 562-1750
Metro Dog Hotel
3117 Pierce St., Richmond • (510) 524. DOGS
1695 34th St., Oakland • (510) 547-DOGS
Feline Bed & Breakfast
11074 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito • (510) 233-1400
3.5-year-old Old English bulldog • Food Habits: He’ll eat anything, except strawberries and bananas. • Judging Style: Spent a lot of time licking the bowls to pick up subtle after-tastes.
10-year-old Newfoundland • Food Habits: Notorious food thief. Prone to stashing loaves of bread under seat cushions. • Judging Style: Highly focused. Went from treat to treat in an orderly fashion. Tried to steal a bowl as a souvenir.
2-year-old Boston terrier • Food Habits: Likes treats, but loves the ball more. • Judging Style: “Let me at it! Let me at it!!
2.5-year-old pitbull • Food Habits: More into balls than food but has a small love of kitty kibble. • Judging Style: “Are you sure I’m allowed to eat this? ’Cuz two minutes ago you told me to ‘leave it.’ ”
12-year-old cocker spaniel • Food Habits: Eats anything. Once ate an entire bag of chicken wings. Including the bag, box and napkins (burp). • Judging Style: “Snacks! Yum! What flavor are the bowls?”
15-month-old Doberman pinscher • Food Habits: More of a performance ham than a chowhound. • Judging Style: “Sit still? Me, sit still!?! I want those treats!”
14-year-old smooth collie • Food Habits: A slow-foodie at heart, she insists that her owner cook all her food from scratch. • Judging Style: Checked each treat to see if it was organic and locally grown before delicately taking a nibble.
Find the tastiest dog treat on the local market.
We presented each of seven dog judges with four kinds of (mostly) locally made treats (all purchased from Holistic Hound) placed in four separate bowls. Then we very scientifically measured a) the order in which they ate the treats; b) the enthusiasm they displayed for each treat; c) how long they licked the bowls; and d) how passionately they scoured the floor for crumbs. After crunching (get it?) the data, we determined a numerical ranking for each treat, based on a scale
of 1 to 4.
Given the range of dogs and treats, we were surprised that so many dogs had a clear favorite. We were also surprised that the fanciest looking treat — a daisy-shaped peanut butter cookie, complete with decorative frosting, from Pawsitively Gourmet — was the least favorite of our judges. Which just goes to show: You can’t judge a dog treat by its frosting.
It‘s Monkey Dog Crunch by a whisker