I SUPPOSE you could live without pets. You could have white upholstery and travel without special arrangements, and never slip on cold vomit on your way to the bathroom at 3 am. But why on earth would you want to?

Pets provide stress relief, force you to be functional and responsible (but only just so, it's not like they're babies), plus they're hilarious, sweet, adorable, and most importantly they love you, regardless of that stupid thing you did today.

And Portland is a pet-loving city among pet-loving cities—it's a fantastic place to live with a critter. Still, there's always room for improvement. Take dogs for a popular example. There are oodles of bars and restaurants that will let your pooch hang tableside. There are even some places that will serve your dog food! I think there should be more of these dog menus, but not everyone agrees, thus the Mercury's first printed argument about dog food. Also, self-improvement is a booming industry for humans, but what of pet improvement? We look into that. Meanwhile, since we only do this issue once a year, we crowned a few "best ofs," including the Pet of the Year and, more seriously, the Pet Charity of the Year.

Don't have a pet? We'll also show you how to shadow the dog world and help you determine the sort of pet that best fits your lifestyle preferences. Or, simply enjoy the reader-submitted photos in our "Behold!" pet glamour shot contest—the winners are one thing, but really, I don't see anyone here who's not winning.



More Pet Issue Articles:

Magic Friends

Point/Counterpoint: The Mercury Argues about Dog Food

Love the One You're With

Which Pet Is Right for You?

Creepin' On Dogs

Portland's Pet of the Year 2015

Four Paws On The Street

Behold! The Winners of the Most Glamorous Pet Photo Contest