Welcome to the first issue in Stranger history devoted to pets.

Inside, we consider how animals serve us, how we serve them, how technology tries to replace them (as a prelude to replacing us), how the unlikeliest creatures can become beloved companions, and most of all how our love for them isn't diminished when they are ugly AF and/or dead.

You met Sharky, who won our Ugly Pet Contest, on the cover. There's more information about her, along with the two runners-up.

Have you heard of Felix, the "mayor of Columbia City," who happens to be a cat (and a bit of a boulevardier)? Has he sauntered into your house yet? Charles Mudede meets this brazen tabby.

Sydney Brownstone reports on a recent addition to the Seattle Police Department, a dog named Bear, who has a talent for sniffing out child pornography.

Out on Mercer Island is Denise's Parrot Place, an exotic bird emporium that claims to be "not a bird farm, not a pet store, not just a breeder" but rather "a parrot paradise." Chase Burns traveled out there and fell in love with a hyacinth macaw.

Ever catch snakes? Ever bring one home with you? Strange things sometimes happen, as Sarah Galvin learned when she brought one home from a cemetery.

Speaking of park animals: Ever wondered if a squirrel would be a good pet? Rebecca Brown doesn't have to wonder, because she tamed one, and tells all.

Katie Herzog's girlfriend wanted a dog. They live in a tiny apartment, so Katie got her a robot dog instead. Turns out, they're not quite the same.

Bookstore cats exist to combat the threat of bookstore rats, as Rich Smith learned when he stopped by Twice Sold Tales recently. Who are the cats that live in this used book store, and what is that litter box all about?

Inexplicable though it may sound, some people enjoy running. Most dogs love running, too, but they object to human beings doing it. Dave Segal, a devoted runner, has some strong feelings on the subject.

Pets, like all living things, die. And like all things that happen to everyone, death represents a massive corporate industry. Sean Nelson profiles Resting Waters, a small, local company that offers a green alternative to pet cremation.

Plus! This week's weed column concerns medical marijuana for pets.

Our art review this week is a dog's eye view of Seattle's outdoor sculptures.

This week's film section includes a review of Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs.

In our food and drink section, Jen Swanson writes about a dog-friendly beer joint with a view of the water.

And just for this issue, our calendar department has created a special section of 65 Events in Seattle for Pet Owners and Animal Lovers Alike.

You're welcome.