The Pets Issue: Once Again, We Honor the Loyal Companions Who Have Comforted Us During COVID

Meet Bandito, the one-eyed cat: Crown Champion of WW’s 2022 Pet Pageant.

If 2021 had a mascot, it could have been Bandito, the one-eyed cat.

After a second year defined by the pandemic, we’re all feeling maimed, scrappy and worn down, but we’ve also become undeniably resilient while navigating this new world.

Bandito’s short seven months of life, so far, have been similarly shaped by struggle.

The black and white domestic shorthair landed at Best Friends Veterinary Medical Center in South Portland as a young kitten after wandering onto a ranch looking pretty scruffy with just a single peeper. The rancher brought the stray to the clinic, and Bandito was quickly adopted by one of the technicians working that day.

“It looked like he had walked for a long while,” says Meghan Howard-Hakala, Bandito’s owner, “because the bottoms of his feet, even at 12 weeks, were all brown from his long journey from wherever he came from.”

Bandito received more votes than any of the other 702 pets that were nominated, and is the 2022 Crown Champion of WW’s annual Pet Pageant, presented by DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Portland, after all, always loves to root for the underdog—er, cat.

One of the small joys of COVID has been the great comfort our fur babies have given us.

In this issue, you’ll find a photo tribute to nearly two dozen of those pets—from fluffy bunnies to adorable ducks to a goat that Portlanders are pulling for to become the face of the next cryptocurrency. Click here to see the full results of our Pet Pageant, in which over 11,000 votes were cast.

For advice on how to help your dog cope with the slow return to the office, we spoke with two behavioral specialists about steps that will prepare Fido to get through an eight-hour workday alone.

We also asked local vets to explain why appointments are becoming scarcer than cream cheese.

If you’ve ever thought about fostering an animal, whether out of the kindness of your heart or you’re just afraid of long-term commitment, a woman who’s served as temporary guardian to dozens of kittens describes the process.

We discovered an Overlook neighborhood homeowner who is turning heads with a jungle gym of feeders for squirrels and a mini condo for stray cats.

Finally, we’ve rounded up the best bar patios in each neighborhood, where four-legged friends are not just allowed, they’re embraced, and dog-friendly amenities abound.

A one-eyed cat may seem like a silly symbol of hope during a global health crisis, but these are unusual times. Now is his moment to shine.

—Andi Prewitt, Arts & Culture Editor