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Wag, April 2016

Our eighth-annual, Bay Area-wide, readers’ poll, the Beast of the Bay Awards, is also Bay Woof’s ninth anniversary. Wow.

We’ve come a long way, baby, most especially true in the last few months. Our first issue debuted in March 2007 and was created in a garage in Oakland. After that, we moved to a basement in San Francisco, and now we’re in a practical office building in downtown Oakland. As I write this Wag column from our new home at Telegraph Media’s offices, I’m filled with gratitude for our readers and advertisers who’ve believed in the mission we’ve had since day one — to be the voice of the local dog community and an essential resource for dog people throughout Northern California. In doing so, we’ve helped save the lives of countless dogs by supporting the Bay Area shelter and rescue communities, and by promoting a quality relationship between dogs and their people. Thank you.

When we started, Mr. Bush was president, and by now we’ve had two terms of Mr. Obama. We’ve had three editors — Mindy Toomay was with us on founding day and up through 2015. Kate Lorch was interim editor, and now these pages rest securely in the hands of Telegraph Media editor Judy Gallman. I’m grateful for the humble beginnings that led us to becoming a part of our adoptive forever home in Telegraph Media, also home to The East Bay Monthly, Oakland Magazine, and Alameda Magazine.
Due to popular demand, this year our readers’ poll  was expanded to include not only San Francisco and the East Bay, but also the North Bay, South Bay, and Peninsula, and the voters sure loved that — we ended up with more than 400 finalists, 112 of which are the top-vote getters in more than 50 categories.

When Mindy and I first conceived of the awards back in 2008, we thought it was a great way to hear from our readers about what they thought was important, about what the local dog community believed to be the parks best for hiking, which ones were great for sitting with your dog and contemplating the universe, which dog walkers had it goin’ on, where’s the best place to pick up dog food, where’s the best place to soap and scrub your hairy pal to avoid covering your own bathtub in fur. After eight years of collecting readers’ picks of all of the above, we hope you’ll find this year’s collection a great resource. If you ever want to view any past years’ results, go to and change the year for any year you want to view.

The last thing I want to say about the awards is that, in no way is it a comprehensive list for the great dog-people and places in the Bay Area. It’s a list of who our readers feel are the tops, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg of dog-loving services and business available to all of us. Keep supporting your favorite neighborhood shop and your very favorite canine service provider and vet. Maybe our readers’ picks will provide some inspiration, enticing you to explorations in our rich and vibrant dog-lovin’ community.

COME TO OUR PARTY! We’ll be celebrating the award nominees and winners on Saturday, April 9, at El Rio in San Francisco, with a bash like no other. Sister Roma, from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, will be our hostess with the mostest, The Rumble Strippers will provide the swingin’ live music, and there will be food, a doggy costume contest, and a raffle to benefit the winners of the Best Rescue Group category. See you there!

Woofly yours,
— M Rocket