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Best of the East Bay: Pets

Where to adopt, walk, and spoil your four-legged friends.


courtesy of sharethejoyphotography.com

Perfect Pet Pics

Here are a few tricks of the Fido photo trade.

Reader Pick: Pet Photographer

Lafayette-based photographer Barbara Brady-Smith of Share the Joy Photography has spent much of the past five years snapping pics of Fidos and Fluffys for pet owners and rescue shelters, to great acclaim: One of her snaps was awarded the 2013 Northern California Professional Photographer Association’s Image of the Year. Here are five of her tips for snapping the perfect pet photo. (925) 284-3280, sharethejoyphotography.com.

1. Prep your pets: Brush them and wipe their eyes before taking their photos.

2. If you are outside, be careful of the lighting. You’ll find great light early in the morning or in the early evening—not in the middle of the day.

3. Calling your pets’ names is not the way to get their attention. Shaking a treat bag or making a cute noise near the camera will work much better.

4. Most people take pictures looking down on their pets. Rethink your angles. Get down on the ground, and look up at your animal.

5. Owners forget how much dogs are emotional sponges: Relaxing, laughing, and showing the pet love between pictures will make a big difference.


The Perfect Doggie Day

Follow this cheat sheet to fun with your pooch.

When I told my duo of canine critics, Maizy and Maybelline, that Diablo readers had picked a list of pet stores and pooch-friendly diners, the girls wanted to add their enthusiastic wags to the review process. So, we mapped out the readers’ favorite dog spots, cracked open the back windows of the Honda for some fresh air, and hit the road on the ultimate East Bay doggie day.

Lafayette Reservoir

Reader Pick: Dog-Friendly Hike
We start the day at the Res, a gem that has been serving Lafayette for nearly 50 years. With an energetic wiggle and a nod at the trailhead, Maizy suggests we spend the morning on the hills of the 4.7–mile Rim Trail. I opt for the less-challenging paved Lakeside Trail.

“What’s the deal with the leash?” Maybelline eyes. I let her know the all-dogs-on-leash rule is really for the other dogs, but we have to abide. She abides. 3849 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-9669, ebmud.com/recreation/east-bay/lafayette-reservoir.

Nitro Dog

Reader Pick: Pet Store
After our walk, we make a stop at the best pet store. This locally owned shop offers something for every breed. Food-motivated Maizy heads for the organic treats while toy lover Maybelline picks out a plush chewie with a squeaker. Win-win! 61 Lafayette Cir., Lafayette, (925) 962-2275, nitrodog.com.

courtesy of Zoom Room

Zoom Room

Reader Pick: Dog-Training Classes
As we drive by the Treat Boulevard exit, Maybelline gets excited because we’re near the Zoom Room. She took an agility class when the training center first opened, and she loved it—but since Maizy didn’t get to go, we decide to keep it between us. 7001 Sunne Ln., Ste. 104, Walnut Creek, (925) 322-0667, zoomroomonline.com.

Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar

Reader Pick: Dog-Friendly Restaurant
This popular café has two East Bay locations, one in Concord’s Willows Shopping Center and one in Dublin’s Hacienda Crossings. Each has a spacious patio that welcomes dogs, as long as they’re leashed and well behaved. (“Again with the leash!” Maybelline says with her eyes.) The girls sit patiently as I eat a burger, and are rewarded with the last two bites. 1961 Diamond Blvd., Concord, (925) 849-1221; 4805 Hacienda Dr., Dublin, (925) 361-3690, lazydogrestaurants.com.

Hap Magee Ranch Park

Reader Pick: Dog Park
We wrap up the day at Hap Magee Ranch Park in Danville. Clean and green, Hap Magee is the Cheers of dog parks, a place where the regulars all know your dogs’ names. The girls get on like gangbusters with a German shepherd and only agree to leave when I say that we’re going to be late for dinner. 1025 La Gonda Way, Danville, (925) 314-3400, danville.ca.gov/things-to-do/parks/dog-park.


courtesy of Animal Rescue Foundation

Saving Lives

Reader Picks: Animal Shelter; Cat Rescue Group

Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the night that Evie, a stray cat, ran onto the field during an A’s game, inspiring the creation of our readers’ favorite animal shelter.

ARF has grown into one of the nation’s great rescue organizations, with a cutting-edge campus; outreach programs benefiting kids, veterans, and the elderly; and the placement of cats and dogs into homes all over the Bay Area. In January, ARF celebrated its 30,000th rescue when it placed Ravioli (pictured). 2890 Mitchell Dr., Walnut Creek, (925) 256-1273, arflife.org.

Contra Costa–based Community Concern for Cats (CC4C) was picked as our readers’ favorite for feline rescue. CC4C has been serving the area for more than 25 years, placing roughly 500 cats in homes each year and providing spay/neuter and foster cat services.

Diablo’s editor in chief, Susan Safipour, got an adorable gray rescue kitten, Romeo, from CC4C last year as a companion for her black cat, Juliet. While the match was not love at first sight, Romeo and Juliet now love to chase each other all over the Safipour house. communityconcernforcats.org.


Reader Picks

Aquarium Concepts

Reader Pick: Aquarium Shop
Walking around this massive aquarium store in Dublin is a bit like scuba diving without the gear: You get to see a kaleidoscope of colorful, exotic aquatic life in numerous tanks and displays. 6920 Amador Plaza Rd., Dublin, (925) 829-0583.

For the Love of Dog

Reader Pick: Dog Walker
For those days that I can’t walk Maizy and Maybells, I have the number of Diablo readers’ favorite dog walker, Heather Smalley. (925) 789-7118, fortheloveofdog.biz.

All Fur Love

Reader Pick: Groomer
I’d love to say that I had our shaggy-furred Wheaten terrier styled at All Fur Love, our readers’ favorite dog groomer. However, when I told my wife I intended to take Maybelline out to Danville for a haircut, I was given a sobering lecture about how long it took to get our regular groomer to get Maybelline’s cut just right and how a trip to a new salon could throw off the balance of the universe. So I’ll have to take our readers’ word for the quality of service at All Fur Love, which I’m sure is awesome. 714 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Danville, (925) 719-7108, allfurlovegrooming.com.

Club K9

Reader Picks: Pet
Day Care, Overnight Pet Boarder
For those rare occasions when we’re out of town, it’s good to know that Club K9 is right on Crow Canyon Road, near San Ramon. This perennial winner for Pet Day Care and Overnight Pet Boarder sits on 20 acres—making it the largest East Bay kennel by a long shot—and offers a complimentary day of doggie day care as a way to introduce your pup to the premises. 10671 Crow Canyon Rd., Castro Valley, (855) 364-3293, clubk9.com.

Four Seasons Animal Hospital

Reader Pick: 24-Hour Pet Hospital
Thankfully, I didn’t need to take the girls to our readers’ favorite 24-Hour Pet Hospital, but just like with Club K9, I’m glad to know that Lafayette’s Four Seasons Animal Hospital has such a devoted following. Four Seasons offers general practice medicine for cats and dogs, a 24-hour emergency room and ICU, and specialty services for birds, rabbits, rodents, and reptiles. 3210 Old Tunnel Rd., Lafayette, (925) 938-7700, fourseasonsah.com.

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