Beast of the Bay 2009

When we first announced our annual Beast of the Bay Awards back in September, we thought there would be an enthusiastic response.

Dog-friendly people, places, and things abound in the Bay Area, and we knew our readers would be eager to tell us about their favorites. Even so, you exceeded our expectations. When the final votes were cast, we had nearly 2,500 ballots to count!

Now that the tallying has been done, we are happy to announce the top vote-getters in over 35 categories. One of them – winner of the Best Rescue Group Award, Rocket Dog Rescue – will receive the funds we raised by selling raffle tickets at our voting party on January 31. The other first-place winners get special plaques to display at their places of business, announcing to the world that they stand out from the pack. Thanks to all who voted, to our sponsors, and to everyone in the Bay Area who helps make this place a paradise for dogs and their people.


Best Off-Leash Dog Run

Winner: Fort Funston, Highway 35 South of SF Zoo, San Francisco

For lots of Bay Areans, off-leash is the only way to enjoy the great outdoors with a dog. There are plenty of off-leash destinations, but for our readers Fort Funston is #1. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a network of park lands that stretches from northern San Mateo County to southern Marin County, Ft. Funston encompasses massive dunes, spectacular headlands, and miles of beaches. Learn more at 

Runners-up: Pt. Isabel (Richmond), Crissy Field (SF), Redwood Regional Park (Oakland Hills) 


Best Dog Park

Winner: Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline, 2701 Isabel St., Richmond. 

Runners-up: Stern Grove (SF), San Leandro Marina, Bernal Hill (SF) 


Best Hiking Trail

Winner: East Bay Regional Parks, Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, 

Runners-up: Lands End (SF), Mt. Diablo (Contra Costa Co.), Presidio (SF) 


Best Canine Sports Event

Winner: Agility 

Runners-up: Dock Diving, Petco Chihuahua Races, Canine Disc 


Best View with a Dog

Winner: Crissy Field, 603 Mason St., San Francisco Picking just one best view in the Bay Area is no easy task, but our voters decided on another GGNRA treasure, Crissy Field. This 100-acre park offers picnic grounds, a wide public access trail, and magnificent views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, and a panorama of water and hills. Of course, all of this is best enjoyed with a furry friend. Details at:

Runners-up: Buena Vista Park (SF), Cesar Chavez Park (Berkeley), Marin Headlands 


Best Small Dog Play Group/Event

Winner: San Francisco Chuhuahua Meetup 

Runners-up: Frenchie Fridays, South Bay Yorkshire Meetup, Sirius Puppy Socials 


Best Large Dog PlayGroup/Event

Winner: Great Dane Meetup 

Runners-up: Boxers by the Bay Meetup, Society Dog events, Hikes and Hounds 


Best location to get your picture taken with your dog

Winner: Crissy Field 

Runners-up: Golden Gate Bridge (SF), Indian Rock (Berkeley), Dolores Park (SF) 


Best Dog-Friendly Lodgings

Winner: Pacific Mist Inn, Mendocino No doubt about it, Mendocino is a delightful destination for people and pups. Our readers voted the Pacific Mist Inn ( #1 for pet-friendliness, and gave honorable mentions to the Stanford Inn and the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek. If you want to get the most from your trip, read Magnificent Mutt-Friendly Mendocino in the April 2008 issue of Bay Woof. 

Runners-up: Cypress Inn (Carmel), W Hotel (SF), Inn Marin (Novato) 


Best Dog Happy (Yappy) Hour

Winner: Stray Bar, 309 Cortland Ave., San Francisco This popular Bernal Heights watering hole pampers pooches with fresh biscuits and offers reasonably priced drinks and fun theme nights for the two-leggeds. Details at

Runners-up: Doc’s Clock (SF), Bella & Daisy’s (SF), Wags & Whiskers Pet Boutique (Walnut Creek) 


Best Fresh Water Bowl

Winner: Paws & Claws, 2023 Macarthur Blvd., Oakland 

Runners-up: Holistic Hound (Berkeley), Duboce/Dolores Park Cafes (SF), Murphy’s Paw (Pleasanton) 


Best Free Treats

Winner: Red Hound, 5523 College Ave, Oakland 

Runners-up: Five Paws Bakery (Los Altos), Buddy’s Barkery (Benicia), Jeffrey’s (SF) 


Best Dog-Friendly Restaurant

Winner: Zazie’s, 941 Cole Street, SF (ask for the garden patio) 

Runners-up: Forge in the Forest (Carmel), Park Chow (SF), Rock Bottom Brewery (San Jose) 


Best Canine Coffeehouse

Winner: Sit and Stay Café, Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline, 2701 Isabel St., Richmond This East Bay Regional Parks facility has outdoor tables only and concession-stand ambience, but its setting at Pt. Isabel Regional Shoreline can’t be beat. Your dogs might not share your taste for cappuccino, but they will love the 23 acres of off-leash space right next door and the proximity of MudPuppy’s. 

Runners-up: Deaf Dog Coffee (Petaluma), Progressive Grounds (SF), Peet’s (various locations) 


Best Pet Superstore

Winner: Pet Food Express, various locations 

Runners-up: Pet Club, Petco, Petsmart 


Best Pet Boutique

Winner: Holistic Hound, 1510 Walnut St., Berkeley 

Runners-up: Dog Bone Alley (Alameda & Danville), Red Hound (Oakland), Bernal Beast (SF) 


Best Doggie Birthday Present

Winner: Food, of course! Some of the edible gifts mentioned by our voters: raw bone, steak and cake, chocolate brownies from Best in Show, Three Dog Bakery birthday cake 

Runners-up: Bully Stix, Memory Foam dog bed, and “a donation to your favorite rescue group” 


Best Veterinary Clinic

Winner: Pets Unlimited, 2343 Fillmore St., San Francisco 

Runners-up: Creature Comfort Holistic Veterinary Center (Oakland), San Francisco Veterinary Specialists (SF), Montclair Veterinary Hospital (Oakland) 


Best Veterinarian

Winner: Gary Richter, Montclair Veterinary Hospital, 1961 Mountain Blvd., Oakland 

Runners-up: Calvin Lum (San Francisco Veterinary Housecalls), Rachel Feigenbaum (Lotus Veterinary Housecalls, SF), George Marmolejo (Chabot Veterinary Clinic, Hayward) 


Best Veterinary Website



Best Alternative Medicine Provider

Ed. Note: We should have been more specific here. People voted for both clinics and individuals, so we decided to name a winner in both categories!


 Winner: Creature Comfort Holistic Veterinary Center, 2501 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland 

Runners-up: Coastal Holistic (Pacifica), Pets Unlimited (SF)


Winner: Jenny Taylor, Creature Comfort Holistic Veterinary Center, 2501 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland 

Runners-up: Rachel Feigenbaum (Lotus Veterinary Housecalls, SF); Molly Rice (Coastal Holistic, Pacifica); Heather Sanders, (Wags n’Wellness)


Best Dog Massage

Winner: Shelah at Happy Hounds Massage, 


Best Groomer

Winner: Sylvia at Kosita’s, 98 Bennington St, SF (Bernal Heights)

Many dogs don’t take kindly to being wet down and rubbed down, or approached with scary objects like electric shears and blow-dryers. A lot of voters told us that Sylvia is the woman for the job. Kosita’s isn’t a lah-dee-dah salon for status pets; it’s a neighborhood place where Sylvia’s sensitivity and skill can keep your dog looking good. 

Runners-up: Bernie’s, SF (inside Animal Care and Control), MudPuppy’s Tub & Scrub (Pt. Isabel, Richmond) 


Best Dog Walker

Winner: Cindy Lonnstrom, Diva Dogs, 

Runners-up: Janese Hurley, Sky Krall, Cloud 9 


Best Dog Sitter

Winner: Courtney Gunter, The Whole Pet, 

Runners-up: Michael Murphey, Dogtopia, Aloha Pet Services 


Best Day Care

Winner: Citizen Canine, 420 Hegenberger Rd., Oakland, 

Runners-up: Happy Hound (Emeryville), Pride & Pedigree, (Oakland) 


Best Overnight Boarding

Winner: Citizen Canine, 420 Hegenberger Rd., Oakland, 

Runners-up: Pet Camp (SF), Metro Dog (Richmond) 


Best Private Trainer

Winner: Beverly Ulbrich, The Pooch Coach, 

Runners-up: Paul Klein, Bravo Pup; Sandy Thompson, Bravo Pup 


Best Training Class

Winner: Bravo Pup, East Bay, 

Runners-up: Sirius Dog Training (various locations), Marin Humane Society (Novato) 


Best Dog Photographer

Winner: Mark Rogers

There are lots of great pet photographers in the Bay Area, but our readers voted Mark Rogers #1. His love of the subject is evident in every shot, including the one we used on the cover of our November 2008 issue! Surf some great shots at, and be sure to check out his great blog. 

Runners-up: Pat Boyd, Kendra Luck, Lori Cheung


Best Rescue Group

Winner (and raffle beneficiary): Rocket Dog Rescue

Eight years after leaving life on the streets for the sake of a special dog, Pali Boucher is still saving the lives of homeless dogs. She and her cadre of passionate volunteers host lots of fun and funky fund-raising events around San Francisco. Visit for the whole story. 

Runners-up: All the other top Rescue Group vote-getters deserve honorable mention, plus a rousing round of applause. They are: Muttville, The Milo Foundation, Grateful Dogs Rescue, BADRAP, Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, and Hopalong and Second Chance Animal Rescue. 


Best Humane Organization

Winner: Marin Humane Society, 171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd., Novato 

Runners-up: SF/SPCA, Humane Society Silicon Valley, Berkley-East Bay SPCA 


Best Canine Cause

Winner: PAWS/Pets Are Wonderful Support, 645 Harrison St., Ste 100, San Francisco 

Runners-up: Senior dogs rescue (Muttville), Pit Bull rescue (BAD RAP) 


Best Canine Fundraising Event

Winner: Petchitecture, for PAWS/Pets Are Wonderful Support

If a group of celebrated architects built some way-out dog domiciles, would people buy them in support of a fabulous non-profit? Oh yes! The 14th annual Petchitecture is slated for April 24. Read the details and buy tickets at Proceeds benefit PAWS, which provides essential pet services for low-income San Francisco residents living with HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses. 

Runners-up: Bark and Whine Ball, for The San Francisco SPCA; Gogol Bordello at Slims, for Muttville; Fur Ball, for Hopalong and Second Chance Rescue. 


Best Web Social Networking




Best Online Boutique




Best overall Canine Website





Finally, some of the categories voters invented, and the winners they picked.


Best Dog-friendly Winery

Mutt Lynch Winery, P.O Box 511, Healdsburg;


Best Final Resting Place

Pet’s Rest Cemetery, 1905 Hillside Blvd. Colma


Best Custom Dog Collars

Paco Collars,


Thanks again to everyone who participated and Thanks to our amazing Beast of the Bay Awards sponsors!

DISCLAIMER: We know there are plenty of wonderful Bay Area dog people/resources not mentioned here, and we appreciate and salute them all. Keep in mind that, just like in politics, the winners were picked by those who took the trouble to vote. If your favorites got overlooked this time around, be sure to get involved next year!

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