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All things ‘pets’

We're excited to present our first ever Pet Issue! After accepting entries from local readers, we ended up with more than 40 great profiles and pictures of dogs, cats, birds and even a squirrel.

We chose to profile several pet owners and their babies in the print issue. We also featured articles on pet-related products, the reopening of Piedmont Park's dog park and pet-friendly restaurants around town in the paper this week, as well.

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Pets: Everything for your pampered pet

There are infinite ways to spoil your pet. The pet product industry rakes in about $38 billion of your dollars every year, and pet companies are constantly creating new ways to help you do just that. Here are eight ways to pamper your pets:

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Pets: Piedmont Dog Park returns

Piedmont Park's new dog park

Area pet owners will soon be able to bring their beloved pooches back to Piedmont Park’s popular Dog Park. The park re-opens Aug. 12, complete with a grand opening ceremony.

The former Dog Park opened to the public back in 2002, but closed when the Piedmont Park Conservancy decided to upgrade it. According to Yvette Bowden, president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy, there has been much discussion since that time on how to expand the Dog Park location and make it as enjoyable as possible to everyone.

Bowden acknowledges that the Dog Park has long been one of the most frequented areas of Piedmont Park and that she, like many others, is looking forward to the opening.

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Chely Wright comes out of the country closet

Newly out country musician Chely Wright

Last month, for the first time in the history of country music, an established country singer came out. In the May 17 issue of People magazine, Chely Wright discussed how she knew she was gay by age 9, but thought she had to hide it to succeed in music — living a lie that drove her to consider suicide in 2006.

Wright had her biggest hit in 1999 with “Single White Female,” which went to No. 1; made People’s list of Most Beautiful people in 2001, and dated fellow country singer Brad Paisley. In her People interview, she described how she decided to come out when making her new album, “Lifted Off the Ground.”

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Gay artist tackles homophobia in black community

Artist Michael Morgan

As a gay, black, HIV-positive man, Michael Morgan finds solace in his art.

From his painting “In the Garden” that depicts the shame of being gay and resorting to finding sex in Piedmont Park, to his “Jack in the Box” series with dolls caged behind chicken wire to symbolize struggles with drugs, sexuality and poverty, Morgan wants the African-American community to address taboo topics and not hide from them.

“The last eight years I started focusing my work on my environment, things that have affected me for so long. I did a lot of artwork on social commentary, civil rights and the family,” he says.