Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club
Paul Wellman

I have always felt that there is a wicked and limiting ageism in the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” After all, I am a dog, and, well, if my teeth and squeaky hips are any indicator, I am also approaching “old dog” status. However, after a few sessions with Eric Smith and crew at K-Nine Solutions, Dug Daug is learning stuff! Ask any human in my life; the K-Nine team has my extra excitable barking fits under control and my incessant begging for bacon in check, and I am even considering allowing my humans to leash me. We shall see (the “Liberty Before Leash” tattoo plans may be going on hold indefinitely).

What isn’t on hold, though, are my plans for some prime puppy dog pampering. Dot and I are set for a grooming date at The Little Dog House with my main homegirl, Annabelle Hoffman. This place is a must-go for all dogs. Annabelle has been grooming longer than I’ve been living, so she knows how to make a dog feel right at home. After a clip and dip, we are off for a quick stay in the lap of luxury that is Dioji K-9 Resort. This place is so good, it is likely illegal in the Midwest ​— ​dogs don’t get their own swimming pools and athletic clubs where I come from. But, then again, we also don’t have feed stores like Lemos. That joint is a dream come true for canines, birds, or, dare I say, even cats. It’s a health-conscious superstore just for the furry and feathered folk!

If any health mishaps occur along the way, our first call is always to the amazing doctors at Carpinteria Veterinary Hospital. Though we live the next town over, we make sure our humans get us to Drs. Justin Fischer, Megan Thomas, Laura Putnam, Kristin Unverferth, or Maribel Munoz. They are all the best, whether I need flea pills or Dot has her rather disgusting problem of a fox-tail-up-her-nose, not to mention her most unsightly gout of “Santa Barbara” itch last summer.

Human puppies have it great around here, too! The weather is never an excuse, the ocean and the mountains are in your backyard, and the options for fun seem to be around every corner. Kernohan’s Toys has a special attraction for all littles ​— ​the place is wall-to-wall with every type of toy imaginable and then some. There isn’t anything in there that I’m allowed to chew on but my tail gets wagging watching all the tiny humans freak out.

A place called Peanuts is the go-to place for dressing your kiddos, but the store is also a bit of a baby/parenting culture hub with weekly classes and talks. Come for the onesies and used maternity clothes, but stay for the discussion on breast-feeding.

It should come as no surprise that the daycare facilities for little humans also go above and beyond around these parts. By all accounts, the San Marcos Parent Child Workshop is a beloved community institution. It turns out that working just as hard to support and educate the parents as well as the kids is a wildly popular formula for full family happiness and growth. Imagine if that caught on around the country? The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Summer Camp is another crazy cool option for the flesh puppies. The program is a sellout every summer and for good reason; it is all the fun and games of summer camp set behind the scenes at a zoo! -Dug

Dog Trainer

K-Nine Solutions, 126 E. Haley St., Ste. 8, 451-2458, kninesolutions.com

Finalist: Loose Pooch Dog Club

Pet Grooming

The Little Dog House, 5758 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 964-2446, doggroomerssantabarbara.com

Finalist: For Paws Salon

Pet Boarding

Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club, two locations, dioji.com

Finalist: Camp Canine

Pet Store

Lemos Feed & Pet Supply, many locations, lemospet.com

Finalist: Pet House

Pet Hospital/ Clinic

Carpinteria Veterinary Hospital, 585 Walnut Ave., Carpinteria, 684-3617, carpvet.com

Finalist: St. Francis Pet Clinic

Toy Store

Kernohan’s Toys, 18 W. Anapamu St., 962-5353, kernohanstoys.com

Finalist: Chicken Little

Paul Wellman

Children’s Clothing Store

Peanuts Maternity & Kids, 9 E. Figueroa St., 618-1640, peanutvine.com

Finalist: Chicken Little

Daycare Facility

San Marcos Parent Child Workshop, 400 Puente Dr., Ste. A, 964-8994, smpcw.org 

Finalist: Discoveries Learning Center

Kids’ Summer Camp

Santa Barbara Zoo Camp, 500 Niños Dr., 962-5339, sbzoo.org/learn/zoo-camp

“In this digital age, it’s great to see kids fully engaged in natural settings, learning about the environment which we are all responsible for. Zoo Camp provides that unique opportunity for a child to look into the eyes of an elephant and realize that the world is bigger than they had imagined.” —Aaron Marshall, director of education at the zoo

Finalist: Martial Arts Family Fitness 


California Learning Center, 3324 State St., Ste. L, 563-1579, clcsb.com

“What’s really special for me as a teacher is seeing many of my former students from 6th grade at Roosevelt School now in high school and helping them prepare for the next step in their lives.” —Wendi Ostroff, owner/director

Finalist: After School Languages


Dr. David Abbott, 15 E. Arrellaga St., Ste. 1, 965-1095, doctors.cottagehealth.org

Finalist: Dr. Daniel Brennan 

Dog Park

Douglas Family Preserve (Wilcox Property)

Finalist: Hendry’s Beach 


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