Only a Bay Arean (I truly just made that up. Does Bay Areaite sound better?) can understand the awesome richness of the region’s pet scene. So cozy up with your furry companions and read on as I tell my lovely followers the beauty (pun fully intended) of living in the Bay Area with a pet.
There are hundreds of excellent trainers, groomers and veterinarians in these parts and thousands of great places to play, eat and hike with pets (mostly dogs since cats hate partying outside the house). Did you know San Francisco’s pet stores can only sell rescues? Still not convinced? Read on…
Did you know that dogs are now legal on patios at more restaurants than ever before? Jerry Brown signed the “Dining with Dogs” law introduced by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada. So as of January 1, 2014 dogs are allowed on restaurant patios (at the discretion of restaurant owners) as long as certain requirements are met, i.e. the dog is on a leash, not in food preparation areas, etc. Now more dining establishments with outdoor seating are improved by the presence of canine pals basking in the sun, or fog – but probably not rain.
If you don’t think that is great, then read this: there are dog-friendly workplaces! Yes, you may bring your paw-tter half and have him chummy it up with the ladies or gents at your workplace. Google is one of the highly praised companies in this category. To be honest, you can do anything at Google short of living there (I am sure some engineers already do). Get your laundry done, eat all your meals here, and bring your furry friends to work! Google’s pet-friendly policy has dog-loving employees wagging their way to work. Just one question to type into the search engine: Can my dog ride the Google Bus to work with me?
Then comes the abundance of dog parks. To be honest San Francisco is the most touted place for dog parks (those San Franciscan peeps love their mini poodles). But that doesn’t mean the rest of the region doesn’t have any. The highly rated one is Point Isabel Park. With beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County hills from this landscaped 23-acre park at the west end of Central Avenue in Richmond, it’s hard not to enjoy the hard-knock life of a dog and it is one of the largest public off-leash dog parks in the nation. The variety of trails means there is something for every human and canine, from eager pups to serene seniors. Mudpuppy’s Tub & Scrub and the Sit & Stay Café are right next to the Pt. Isabel parking lot, so this destination covers all the bases. Other parks in the North Bay Area are Fort Funston, Alameda Dog Park, and Crissy Field among many more.
Bay Area residents love hiking and we have many options if you have a pet. The best hiking trail we learned is on Fort Funston (fun!!). A perennial favorite in the Beast of Bay Awards, Fort Funston reigned again in 2015. But the right to romp with dogs at this fabulous location has required a sustained campaign against Golden Gate National Recreation Area officials who want to initiate new canine-unfriendly policies. With its gorgeous, wind-swept expanses on the edge of the Pacific, Fort Funston is one of the places that define San Francisco. We are here at the edge of the sea, where the view goes on forever. We can do anything, we can go anywhere, and we’re taking our dogs with us. The runner ups are Redwood Regional Park, Land’s End, and Tilden Park.
In the Bay Area, your pooch can even enjoy a pool. The Rex Center is a great place. Swimming, especially in warm water, is just what the doctor ordered for arthritic dogs and those recovering from injury or surgery. The low-impact workout and gentle heat are soothing yet stimulating and can help improve mobility for aging dogs. Other places are Holistic Vet Care and Rehabilitation Center, Pet Camp, and McLaren Park reservoir.
What if you and your dog love socializing? Well, Bay Area has something for you too. The Wiggle Waggle Walk annual fundraiser includes festivities such as contests, pet-friendly entertainment, a fashion show, and of course a fund-raising walk in support of shelters’ year-round efforts to find loving homes for the local dogs who need them. Other events are the Oakland Athletics Bark in the Park, San Francisco Giants Dog Days at AT&T Park, and many, many more. There are even adult dog play groups and puppy training where dogs interact without leashes in diverse situations.
What if you love camping? The Anthony Chabot Regional Park is a popular spot and a beautiful campground. It’s 70 miles of trails are sure to delight both you and your furry camp mate. There are 10 walk-in campsites, about 50 tent campsites, and 12 with full hookups for trailers and RVs. Reservations are required. Other places included are Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and Casini Ranch Family Campground.
Like Seattle, San Francisco loves its tea and coffee (make that soy milk coffee). There are a number of coffee houses where canines are welcome at their outdoor tables. Places like Duboce Park Café, Dolores Park Café, Sit & Stay Café, and Philz (which is all over Bay Area) all receive two thumbs up for their delicious coffee, food, and dog friendly policies.
Spoil your Pooch
To spoil your dog, there are numerous pet boutiques and bakeries as well. Three Dogs bakery makes yummy treats for dogs in flavors ranging from peanut to cheese to vanilla. Other bakeries are the Okashi Bakery, La Marcel, and Sweet Adeline Bakery. Holistic Hound is a wonderful boutique that sells top-of-the-line products. As a trained homeopath, the owner stocks the store with tried-and true nutritional supplements and other gentle yet effective “alternative: medicines. Other boutiques for cats and dogs are Paws and Claws, Jeffrey’s Natural Pet Foods, and Noe Valley Pet Company.
One thing pet lovers love to do is dress up their pets like their human (trust me, I dressed up my kitty as a fairy her first Halloween with me). Bay Area has designers, yes, designers who will design for your pet. George SF has several pet boutiques in the Bay Area and Santa Barbara. Although you can order a wide range of pet bling and accessories at the company’s website, the George stores are designed to enhance your shopping experience. Visiting dogs are treated to tasty morsels along with a little love from the staff while their people shop fornew coats, collars, beds, and whatever else appeals. Other designers are Mijo & Bambi, Wildebeest, and Scutte all which are highly rated.
Besides regular check-ups at the vets, your pet needs a massage too. The best voted canine massage therapist is Shehlah Barr from the happy hounds massage. Shelah Barr’s healing gifts can do a lot for your dog, whether he’s an athlete at his peak, recent surgery patient on the mend, or a stiff and sore senior citizen. Just like with humans, even when there are no known health issues, regular massage can increase well-being and reduce stress. Shelah Barr earns top BOBA honors this year (and repeatedly) for never failing to make Rover feel better. Others include Eri Suzaki, Joy Greer Walker, and Anastasia Lang.
There is no dearth of stores which allow dogs or have high quality products for pets. The tried-and-true (by me) is the Pet Food Express. It has won plenty of national awards for its commitment to animal causes and their products are mostly organic or of highest quality. I literally see a difference in my cats’ health (like their fur) after eating their kibbles. The service is great too even if you have a million questions (spoken like a true concerned pet mommy). There are some locally made dog products as well. According to dog owners, pooches can’t get enough of the tasty treats from Bark Stix, prepared in Point Richmond using locally raised produce and meats along with organic flours. Whether it’s Dudley’s Do-Right Training Treats or Salmon Sweetie Pies, dogs come running for these locally made snacks. Other places include Boo Boo’s Best, Paco Collars, and SF RAW (all highly rated).
What if you need medical help for pooch or feline? There are plenty of highly rated and reputable vets that can cater to their needs. The best voted alternative medicine provider is Dr. Gary Richter. Dr. Richter specializes in problems with multiple causes and no easy answers. His expert combining of holistic therapies, including acupuncture and chiropractic, gives our voters a lot of confidence in his care. As owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital since 2002, Dr. Richter has been caring for Bay Area pets and their people in for a long while. His adjunct holistic clinic expands your dog’s treatment options to ensure not just his health but his total wellbeing. Other winners are Jenny Taylor from Creature Comfort Holistic Vet Care, Dr. Anne Reed and Rachel Feigenbaum.
San Francisco Veterinary Specialists specializes in emergency care and the doctors and staff is praised for the additional effort they put out to soothe the worried people in the waiting room while sick and injured animals are being treated. Others for emergency care are SAGE Centers Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Care, Nor Cal Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital and All Animals Emergency Hospital. I have heard good things about Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos as well. My cats hate going to the vet so I have tried mobile vet services and have no regrets. They are more expensive then actually going to the clinic, but it is 100% less hassle. The best mobile veterinary practice in the Bay Area is the Lotus Veterinarian. Owned and operated by Rachael Feigenbaum, it takes the top prize for its gentle, caring approach to diagnosing and treating our pets in the comfort of our own homes. Lotus provides a wide range of services without the need to transport our sick and scared furry friends. How great (and convenient) is that? Others that come up are the Blue Sparrow Holistic Veterinary House Calls and East Bay Mobile Country Vet a Well Adjusted Pet.
Dogs at Good Dog Daycare center are matched with friends of similar size and activity level. At the indoor doggy sports field, they play games of Tag, Tug a Toy, and more. The good folks at Good Dogs establish cooperation with the dogs in their care by learning about their individual characteristics, their personalities, and what works best for them – thus making every day a fun play day for your best buddy. Others are Dr. Dave’s Doggie Day Care, Pawtington, Wag Hotels, and Metro Dog. A note to be taken is that cats can be taken to a day care as well (although it is usually not needed). What if you are leaving town or you are out-of-towner staying at a hotel where animals are not allowed? Then overnight boarding is the best options. Camp Lisa offers a structured environment where dogs can hang out together under careful staff supervision in case problems arise. Some dogs are able to get along with other dogs in social situations when they come back home. Others are Citizen Canine, Wag Hotels (I have used them for my cats-cutest thing ever!) and Happy Hound.
There’s no better place for you and your dog to feel truly pampered than the Ritz Carlton luxury resort on the ocean bluffs in Half Moon Bay. With its welcome gifts for people and pups (including a Ritz Carlton flying discs for canine play), the chef’s Pampered Pooch menu, and monthly Yappy Hours on the Gazebo Lawn – you know you and Fido are welcome here. For what’s called the “ultimutt” luxury, indulge in a 15-minute Pooch and Parent massage. When making reservations, be sure to mention your furry companion to make sure no doggie detail is overlooked. Another hotel is Kimpton Hotel if you want to stay in the city.
There you have it! Happy Travels!