Spotlight: Best Combination of Animal Rescue and Human Needs
Pets and Vets, Animal Rescue Foundation
Anyone who has owned a dog knows that the connection between a pet and its person is a unique bond. That’s what makes the Animal Rescue Foundation’s (ARF) Pets and Vets program so special. Founded in 2011, the program benefits U.S. military heroes by pairing them with rescue animals. Similar service dog programs often cost thousands of dollars and have long waiting lists, but ARF’s Pets and Vets program does its best to match veteran-dog teams quickly, always at no cost to the veteran.
Pets and Vets dogs provide remarkable benefits to veterans dealing with post-traumatic-stress-disorder, reducing depression, panic, and stress, as well as encouraging sociability and establishing self-care practices. ARF exclusively trains rescue dogs for the program, which are paired with veterans in Alameda County County and Contra Costa County—or anyone committed to attending weekly training sessions at ARF’s Walnut Creek campus. A skilled trainer, also a veteran, teaches the dogs how to perform at least three tasks to help alleviate the veteran’s disability, such as alerting a veteran to oncoming panic attacks and interrupting night terrors. The training program provides veterans with a supportive class environment, as well as structure and task achievements often missed after the service members have left the armed forces. arflife.org/pets-and-vets.
Tailored Dog Training, Concord, tailoreddogtraining.com.
Runner-up // Laura for Dogs, Walnut Creek, laurafordogs.com.
Dog Tired Adventures, Danville, dogtiredadventuresca.com.
Runner-up // Danville Trails and Tails, Danville, danvilletrailsandtails.com.
Comfort Corner Grooming, Alamo, comfortcornergrooming.com.
The owner [of Comfort Corner Grooming], Melonie, is a saint. She loves every fur baby that walks through her doors. Her prices are super reasonable, and she always goes above and beyond.” —Michele Heathorn, Danville
Runner-up // ShamPooches, San Ramon, shampooches.us.
Pet Food Express, multiple locations, petfood.express.
Runner-up // Murphy’s Paw, Pleasanton, murphyspaw.com.
Jen Frase Photography, jenfrase.com.
Jen Frase has a really good eye as a photographer. She’s a very nice person and [is] easy to work with. She photographed our dogs, but I would recommend her for any type photography.” —Scott Frazer, Lafayette
Runner-up // Share the Joy Photography/Barbara Brady-Smith, Lafayette, sharethejoyphotography.com.
Club K9, Fremont-Sunol, San Ramon, clubk9.com.
We have used Club K9 for years. They’re always accommodating, friendly, safe, and reliable. They provide great care and continue to upgrade their facilities.” —Matt Wilhite, Pleasanton
Runner-up // Wunderbar’s Pet Hotel, Walnut Creek, wunderbarspethotelinc.com.
PET CARE CLINIC
Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center and Urgent Care, San Ramon, webvets.com.
Runner-up // Lafayette Animal Hospital, Lafayette, lafayetteanimalhosp.com.
BEST OFF-LEASH DOG HIKES
Fernandez Ranch, Martinez
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many go-to dog parks in the East Bay were closed or have had on-leash policies this year. Fortunately, our four-legged friends have been able to enjoy Fernandez Ranch, a spectacular open-space park off Highway 4 between Martinez and Hercules. The trails in this massive park offer panoramic views of beautiful wilderness. Dogs can be off-leash, as long as they are under their owners’ control. jmlt.org/fernandez_ranch.html.
BEST VIRTUAL TRAINING
For the Love of Dog, multiple locations
During recent months, dog expert Heather Smalley used her Facebook page to create training videos to help the many folks who were sheltering-in-place with a new pet. Smalley, who trains and walks dogs in the Tri-Valley, with an emphasis on Blackhawk, Danville, and San Ramon, gives tips about all the problems that can come when introducing a new dog into the household as well as advice about socializing the animal with other dogs during trips to the park. fortheloveofdog.biz.
BEST WAY TO GET SUPER SNUGGLY FOR A GOOD CAUSE
Bottle Baby Kittens, Tri-Valley Animal Rescue, Pleasanton
Want to help your community and play with little kittens? Spend a few weeks raising orphaned kittens that arrive at the East County Animal Shelter in Dublin. These babies are up to 4 or 5 weeks of age—up to one pound each—a vulnerable time when they need a chance to grow and get adopted. Volunteers with the Bottle Baby Kittens program will pick up a litter from Tri-Valley Animal Rescue, along with heating pads, formula, bottles, food, and a cage. The program will train you before you pick up the kittens, so all you need to provide is the home and love. tvar.org.
BEST ONE-STOP BIRD SHOP
Your Basic Bird, Berkeley
This delightful shop in Berkeley’s Elmwood district has been providing birds and services to the East Bay for nearly 40 years. Owned by Claudia and Bon Bhunka, Your Basic Bird has a wide range of socialized parrots—African grays, cockatoos, lovebirds, Amazons, and many more—as well as other small companion animals (hamsters, rats, rabbits, etc.) The staff is very knowledgeable, and the shop also stocks a full line of pet products and supplies. yourbasicbird.com.
BEST PLACE TO STOCK UP ON LIVE BLACK WORMS
Concord Aquarium, Concord
This family-owned shop on Concord’s Arnold Industrial Way has been in business for more than 20 years, offering tropical fish, aquariums, and the food and maintenance equipment needed to keep your home aquarium running smoothly. Also, it claims to be the only aquarium shop in Contra Costa County offering live black worms. So, if you have been looking for such a product as this, you’re welcome. concordaquarium.com.