The Wildest Wrapped, 2022
This was a big year for us. Here’s what went down.
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
2022 is almost over. It’s taking off. It’s going to Sicily for a vacation at the White Lotus and never coming back (IYKYK, and you’re still not over it). We are winding down to those last few days on the calendar. People are closing their laptops and the financial books on a year that was, as we’ve gotten used to in the early ’20s, a bit of a mixed bag at best.
Although it’s never easy to definitively say whether an entire year was good or bad (except 2020; she knows what she did), we at The Wildest had a very good 2022. We celebrated our one-year anniversary of being a bonafide online publication that serves as a friendly voice for pet parents who will take all the advice, products, and fun culture features they can get — without any of the fear-mongering medical advice much of the internet likes to churn out.
This year, we were here for new and seasoned pet parents alike as you navigated the challenges your little furry ball of wonder throws at you on the daily. We also kept the spotlight on sustainable brands and efforts, as well as good humans helping to rescue pups and kitties from war, the effects of natural disasters, and the general harshness of this world. We hosted events and a rescue trip to Mexico, where we rescued Morgan, a senior dog who had been locked inside an abandoned property for about six years. Morgan is now based in San Diego and looking for a family. We even launched the first-ever subscription service for dog parents. We put our own own spin on The New York Times’s Wordle, aptly named Poodle (and you can still play on our site now!), and made the streets of New York our runway with this dog street-style feature.
And, because this was year three of a pandemic and news that isn’t easy on the old brain, we made sure to focus on mental health and the fact that pets are living, breathing forms of anxiety meds. For those moments when you need a little extra help, we’ve got Rob Haussman’s Ask a Trainer column, in which the trainer and behavior expert answers questions from The Wildest readers.
In summary, it’s been a very full year. Most one-year-old humans aren’t even walking yet, but The Wildest took this year and, frankly, ran with it. Come along as we run it back for a recap of some of what we did this year.
Best in Show
OK, so this wasn’t a remake of the 2000 Christopher Guest cult classic, but it deserves to go at the top of the list. Best in Show is our definitive guide of the best products of 2022. We gathered our expert-and-editor-tested favorites in five categories: Walk, Wear, Play, Groom, Lounge, Eat, Travel, and Tech. Our models for this feature were adoptable pets, which made them that much more photogenic. Unfortunately, we didn’t include any Busy Bee toys, but you’ll have plenty to choose from here — promise.
In addition to being the most aesthetically pleasing thing we’ve ever published, Best in Show was the culmination of the year we prioritized shopping content, found the best, most sustainable brands out there, and made sure we told you about all latest celebrity-pet collabs as soon as they happened. Doggy Parton, anyone? Even Queer Eye’s Jonathan van Ness and Antoni Porowski launched a pet brand (after cheekily teasing their fans that they finally fell in love).
Wild Ones, Continued
Let’s reintroduce some familiar faces. This year, we continued our Wild Ones column, which features creative pet parents — visual artists, actors, musicians, models, writers, editors, and more — who told The Wildest all about their lives with their pets. Musician Sadie Dupuis and her rescue pups, Lavender and Buddy, posed for an effortlessly cool photoshoot while advocating for Pit Bulls, fostering, and Lavender’s “Chewbacca” sounds. Yoga instructor and social-justice educator Jessamyn Stanley and her Chihuahua, Baby Shark, said “namaste” to living your life as authentically as you can and leaving it all on the mat.
Tegan Quin, of the queer Canadian pop twin-duo Tegan and Sara, gave The Wildest some insight into her and her sister Sara’s 10th album, Crybaby, and how rescuing her Border Collie / German Shepherd, Georgia, led her to new, unexpected emotional depths. Musician Dani Miller of Surfbort told us that her silly rescue pups, Foxy and Pony, got her to stop taking life so seriously, and Lisa Says Gah’s founder and CEO Lisa Bühler introduced us to her tuxedo cat, George, who made her say, well, “Gah!” from day one. *Wipes happy tears from eyes* Pets, right? Take a look at more of our 2022 Wild Ones here.
Introducing: 2022 Cover Stars
After the success of Wild Ones, we knew we needed to step things up. In January, we launched cover stars with Taylour Page, star of the Twitter-thread-turned Indie hit, Zola (2020), and her Pit Bulls, Juice and Aretha, who keep her spirits high with their “squishy and cuddly and sweet dispositions.” In February, Dollface (2019-2022) and Wanda Vision (2021) actress Kat Dennings told The Wildest about her shared “couch potato vibe” with her cat, Millie, who is decidedly content with her life as an only child.
In March, our cover star, Emmy-winning actress, writer, and comedian Ashley Nicole Black told us how she left a work trip to Puerto Rico with her new best friend, a street dog named Gordi. “When it was time to go, she put her paws in my T-shirt to say she wanted to stay with me,” she said. “So I couldn’t put her down.”
During Pride month in June, we moved over to Drag Race territory with Shea Couleé and her Pomerianian, Baby. After all her fame as one of Ru’s girls, Couleé really only cares what Baby thinks of her: “It’s just so nice, because Baby has no idea about my public persona. She literally just loves me exactly for who I am.” In August, breakout star from FX’s Reservation Dogs Paulina Alexis told The Wildest about growing up on the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Reserve in Alberta, Canada, her rescue German Shepherd / Pit Bull mix, Rose, and Rose’s daughter, Lila, whom Alexis delivered. Alexis was not the only animal lover on the show; in September, we covered the makeshift animal rescue that grew out of the Reservation set.
Another highlight of our cover star year was Yves Mathieu East, the model, musician, and activist, who fosters and advocates for Pit Bulls. “I guess in life, I’ve always been drawn to those who have been left behind, forgotten, misunderstood,” he told The Wildest. “I relate to them on a very deep, personal level. No matter how different you are, everyone deserves a chance.”
Stories That Taught Us Something
We don’t pick favorites when it comes to our pets (at least not that we’d like to admit), but when it comes to the stories we publish, we do have some biases. We love anything that gives us more information about how to make pet-parent life easier, changes our perspective, and makes us all feel a little less alone.
We know our readers’ values — like giving a sh*t about the environment — often extend to their life with their pets. So The Wildest Collective member Dave Coast let us all in on the harsh truth: Those compostable poop bags we love to use aren’t that great for the environment after all; they’re actually made of bioplastics. Speaking of busting pet-parent myths, Dr. Lindsey Wendt, also a member of the Wildest Collective, finally spelled out an answer to whether grain-free food is bad for our pets (TL;DR: try to avoid it).
When it comes to shared values, another big one for millennials these days is their mom’s favorite topic: kids. Our parents might be trying to get us to procreate, but some serious factors influence our decisions. We covered this piece about why millennials are choosing to have pets over kids. Lily Velez, author of the report As Birth Rates in US Plummet, Are Pets Standing in for Children?, told The Wildest, “While American ideals have typically defined a family as a household with children, the truth is that ‘family’ encompasses far more than that. Ultimately, it includes those with whom you share a loving bond: whether that be with a romantic partner, or yes, a wet-nosed, tail-wagging, four-legged friend.”
Just as parenting looks different for our generation, so does dog-training. Celebrity dog trainer Nicole Ellis dropped some modern-pet parenting knowledge when she shared that what you say to your dog actually matters far less than how you say it. Watching your tone with commands (and being careful not to name them something that sounds like a swear or negative word), will make your pup actually want to train with you.
The Wildest Pack
We know the pet-parent life isn’t easy. That’s why, this year, we introduced The Pack. The Pack includes access to medical experts, non-medical experts, specialists, access to the Whistle Wellness Monitor, and The Wisdom Panel DNA test. This subscription is for the “now what” moments, those times you have no idea what your next move should be, and those instances you just need a friend to help you deep-breathe. Being a parent to a furry little ball of love (and stress trigger) is not something you should have to do alone. Thankfully, “the pack” applies to much more than a group of pups becoming instant besties at the dog park. Pet parents are their own special kind of pack, and we look out for each other.
In the Wild (a.k.a. events)
A big part of our first year was about what we did out in the wild, if you will. In February, we hosted a Puppy Bowl watch party at New York City dog café Boris & Horton with Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner as our MC. Ahead of the event, Hannah Shaw, a.k.a. “The Kitten Lady,” joined us for an hour of live kitten play and a kitten welfare Q&A.
In April, we had an Earth Day event at DOG PPL’s sustainable, members-only dog park, where our editor-in-chief, Samantha Gurrie, had a fireside chat with our April cover star and Future Earth founder, Stephanie Shepherd, about the future of sustainable dog care. To raise awareness around decreasing our carbon pawprints, we invited sustainable brands, including Modern Beast, Merci Collective, and West Paw. Dog rescue group Pup Culture also brought a few adoptable pups and educated on fostering and rescuing. We also built a “deshedding dome,” where all the fur collected was sent to A Matter of Trust, a non-profit that turns fur into mats that clean up oil spills.
In August, The Wildest threw a pool party with entrepreneur rescue and foster advocate and Wild Ones subject Pia Baroncini, where Collective members Dr. Wendt and Nicole Ellis were in attendance, as well as Steph Shepherd and Wild One interviewee designer Devin Brugman. Modern Beast supplied the “pawty” crowns, while Jax & Bones provided the waterproof dog pool toys.
Pet Parenting, the Sustainable Way
Speaking of raising pets the eco-friendly way, finding the products for our pets that won’t destroy the earth is not an easy feat in general. At The Wildest, we focus on brands that make it their mission to use sustainable materials and make efforts to help the environment. To get pet parents started on the eco-friendly pet life, we covered the sustainable reasons to adopt a pet, this A-Z guide on eco-friendly labels on packaging at the pet store, and how to deal with your eco-anxiety while you parent your pet.
We got the best low-waste pet-care tips from Package Free founder Lauren Singer. And in September, we added to our roster of sustainability movers and shakers with cover star Indy Srinath, who told us all about her urban farm and her National Geographic show, Farming Is Life.
Adoption and Fostering 101
A lot has changed since 2020. People are no longer clamoring to adopt pets at shelters and rescues like they were during the early days of the pandemic. Now, shelters are overflowing as inflation forces pet parents to surrender their pets and natural disasters displace them from their homes. This year, we’ve featured organizations and individuals, such as The Animal Pad, Pilots to the Rescue, Flatbush Cats, Dr. Kwane Stewart, the “The Street Vet”, Sterling “TrapKing” Davis, and more.
To round out the year, we featured Pinups for Pitbulls, the organization that advocates for Pit Bulls, in their final year of their popular fundraising calendar. “The inspiration for Pinups was: How do I get people to pay attention to something that I want them to pay attention to on a subject that most people really don’t care that much about — unless it affects them personally? That’s why I made a calendar to trick people into paying attention,” founder Deirdre Franklin told The Wildest. Find more stories on adoption and fostering efforts you should pay attention to here.
Social Media Wins
Not to brag (OK, we’re gonna brag), but we hit one million-plus followers on our social media channels. TikTok isn’t just for the Gen Z kids; The Wildest’s top TikTok videos focused on things for pet parents and pet lovers to do, like this Japanese-inspired cat café in NYC’s Lower East Side, the Rail Explorers in the Catskills, and Pup-o-Ween in LA. Our top Instagram posts showed us that our IG followers are interested in pet parenting from all angles: from monkeypox safety for dogs to an adoption plea reel for Smoky from Pup Culture (who got adopted!) were our top two on the ’gram. Our story on how dogs can smell stress was also a huge hit with our readers (turns out humans aren’t the only ones who’ve been affected by the past few years).
To be honest, we could keep going, but if we sat here listing all of our accomplishments for the year, none of us would be home in time to watch holiday movies — the good, the bad, and the never-should-have-been-made — with our families and chosen families. So, we’ll pretend like we’re back in middle school, think of a clever “away” message for our AIM, and sign off. This is where, if it were June, we’d write, “HAGS,” yearbook-style, but that works if the “s” stands for “snowed in with a bottle of wine like Cameron Diaz in The Holiday” instead, right? See you in 2023, a year that will, no doubt, be filled with pups, kitties, and all of you.
Our first year in review, from top-read articles and celebrity features to most-popular Instagram and TikTok posts!
Hilary Weaver is the senior editor at The Wildest. She has previously been an editor at The Spruce Pets, ELLE, and The Cut. She was a staff writer at Vanity Fair for nearly three years, and her work has been featured in Esquire, Refinery 29, BuzzFeed, Parade, and more. She lives with her herding pups, Georgie and Charlie, in New England.