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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

With just over a week to go before submissions are due for Top Dog Photo Contest on August 7, my inbox is once again overflowing with questions about the rules. So to ensure none of my readers run afoul of the rules and find themselves in the judges’ doghouse, I’ve pulled together a list of my responses to the most frequently asked questions:

Balboa Park Top Dog Photo Contest Third Place Winner 2014 Charlie BrownI can’t decide which fabulous photo of my pup to submit. Can I submit more than one?

It probably wouldn’t be any easier for our judges to decide for you. Unfortunately multiple pictures of the same pooch will disqualify all of your submissions.

I have more than one photogenic dog in my pack. Can I submit a photo of each one?

Technically that is permitted, but you risk splitting the vote, especially if more than one of your photos makes it to the online voting phase.

A photo I submitted to a previous Top Dog contest didn’t get enough votes to win a prize. Can I resubmit?

There’s likely a very good reason your photo either didn’t make it past the judges into the top 25 or didn’t earn enough votes to win. So no, photos entered in previous contests are not eligible. But please feel free to snap and submit a new photo of the same dog.

My pooch won a prize a few years ago, but my new dog is even more fetching. Can I submit a photo to this year’s contest?

Congratulations on your earlier win! Unfortunately it just wouldn’t be fair to the other pooches if such a seasoned doggie photographer was permitted to win again. So no, previous winners are no longer eligible to enter this photo contest.

My dogs are inseparable. Can I submit a photo with more than one of my dogs in it?

Since this is a contest to determine the Top Dog in Balboa Park, photos of packs or pairs of pooches are not eligible.

I took an amazing photo of my dog in Balboa Park, but there’s another pooch and person just entering the frame. Can I crop them out?

Yes, absolutely! Certain image modifications are permitted (cropping, sharpening, red-eye removal, filters to clean up the image and to give it a more natural appearance). However, adding or replacing objects, using artistic filters (e.g. color tints, atmospheric haze, etc.), and adding a frame or border to the image are not allowed.

If you stlll don’t understand what I’m barking about, please read the complete Top Dog Photo Contest Rules (click on “Contest Rules” and “Terms” buttons at bottom of page). In fact, anyone participating should probably read them anyway.

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Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, Balboa Park, TJ the dog on a surf boardTJ writes: Cowabunga, Cosmos! Surf’s up this summer, so daylight hours are more precious than ever. But my family and I don’t want to completely miss out on all the special activities going on for the Balboa Park Centennial. What would you suggest?

Cosmos: There’s no need to spend your summer nights barking at the moon over “not enough hours in the day,” TJ. In fact, with the Balboa Park Centennial Celebration comes a huge assortment of after-hours entertainment activities. Leading the pack are several music series (both new and familiar), extended evening hours at many of your family’s favorite museums, and not just one, but three free outdoor film series.

Museum of Photographic Arts, viewed at nightHeadlining this year’s diverse concert lineup is the new Centennial Preview Concert Series, which teams up with the terrier-ific Twilight in the Park concert series to extend the Centennial experience another full hour on select weekday nights.

Of particular note is the Family Day preview event preceding the San Diego Civic Dance performance on Thursday, July 23. Sponsored by San Diego Park & Rec, the Family Day event, starting at 5:30pm, will feature Centennial-themed activities for pups of all ages. Then on August 4, prior to the Heliotrope concert, will be an evening of antique cars, barbershop quartets, and dancing lessons to help bring 1915 to life!

Your bipedal packmates will also want the heads up on how many more museums are offering extended evening hours this summer. Days of the week and hours vary by museum. Suffice it to say, no one will have to take precious time from their “day job” to catch the Centennial’s humungous wave of exhibitions, including Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland at the San Diego Museum of Art (open late on Friday), 7 Billion Others at the Museum of Photographic Arts (open late on Thursday), and Circus: Science Under the Big Top at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (open until at least 6pm most days).

Making for the perfect Centennial summer night cap are three different free outdoor film series this year, including the Old Globe’s Shakespeare Film Festival, The San Diego Museum of Art’s annual Film in the Garden series, and the new Outdoor International Film Festival in Spreckels Organ Pavilion. As with any free event with limited seating, it’s advisable to arrive early to mark your territory.

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Woman of Tehuantepec Fountain, House of Hospitality, Balboa ParkAn important piece of Balboa Park history that’s easy to sniff past amid the many programs, performances, and other activities celebrating the Centennial is the House of Hospitality Building. Welcoming millions of visitors to Balboa Park every year through its dog-friendly Visitors Center, the House of Hospitality has served as the Park’s epicenter since the 1915 Panama California Exposition.  

Looking like a proud pack leader surrounded by other historic buildings and scenic plazas, it’s easy to forget this majestic building was rebuilt from the ground up, in incredibly accurate historic detail, just 20 years ago. The building’s exterior was carefully fashioned to replicate how it originally appeared in 1915, while the interior courtyard was redone to match how it looked during the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition, when it underwent a major redesign.

As part of the 1935 redesign, one of the most photographed icons in the Park was installed, the Woman of Tehuantepec Fountain, or as some pups like to call it, the “water lady fountain.” The main figure pouring a water jug (or olla) into the basin below, was carved by San Diego’s top dog sculptor of the day, Donal Hord. (And yes, this is still the original fountain from 1935.)

As the House of Hospitality’s courtyard centerpiece, not only did the Woman of Tehuantepec Fountain prove to be a popular gathering spot for humans and their pooches over the decades, but for the many birds in the area as well. Thanks to the City of San Diego and the Balboa Park Conservancy the sculpture, the water spouts, the basin, and its decorative tiles have just received a thorough cleaning, along with minor repair work, to restore them to their original luster.

So the next time you stop by the Visitors Center or enjoy a meal at the Prado Restaurant, be sure to add a selfie in front this San Diego landmark to your Instagram account. 

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I double dog dare you to name one instance where you can still get two for the price of one when that price is always free. Give up? How about a free Twilight in the Park concert followed by a free movie as part of the new Outdoor International Film Series every Thursday night during the month of July?

Outdoor International Film Series 2015, Balboa Park, Bollywood dancersFor those of us old enough to remember the double feature at the drive-in movie theater, the baseball game double header, and the double-scoop mint and chip ice cream cone at the drugstore, it’s nice to know some treats still double your pleasure and ask for nothing in return. Leave it to the many organizations honoring the Balboa Park Centennial to do just that.

Beginning July 9, families attending the free Thursday night Twilight in the Park concert featuring Stoney B. Blues, starting at 6:30pm in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, will want to keep their haunches in their seats for the second feature of the night, Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Bounding with energy and music, the colorful film presents a mash up of Bollywood “greatest hits” moments.

Co-presented by Pacific Arts Movement and SDG&E, the other films in this summer’s Outdoor International Film Series are

Messi (July 16) — On the heels of the Dixie Express swing music performance, Messi is a unique documentary/biopic that explores what makes the Argentinean soccer star Lionel Messi the best player (on two legs) in the world.

The Italian Character (July 23) — The perfect cultural smorgasbord for everyone in your pack, the evening starts with a Centennial Concert Preview family day event at 5:30pm, hosted by San Diego Park and Rec, followed by a San Diego Civic Dance performance, and capped off by a look inside Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, one of the 10 best orchestras in the world.

Collection of Short Films (July 30) — Last but not leashed, Uncle Bob & the Earth Movers serve as the opening act to a night of short films from the San Diego Asian, Latino, and Italian Film Festivals (the film series co-sponsors), ideal for the attention-span impaired.

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So you’ve packed up your pack and are driving to beautiful San Diego for a fun-filled July 4 weekend. Wise decision, except you may have inadvertently put beaches and animal theme parks at the top of your itinerary not realizing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you have to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of one of the most significant events in Southern California history. I’m of course barking about the 1915 Panama-California Exposition that put Balboa Park and San Diego on the world map.

Being the lucky dog you are, the mid-point in the year-long Centennial Celebrations calendar presents a unique confluence of some of the biggest exhibitions and activities of 2015 in Balboa Park. This step-by-step itinerary will help you get the most out of your long holiday weekend.

Cat in the Hat drawing, The Ingenious Dr. Seuss, San Diego History CenterStep 1: Stop by the Balboa Park Visitors Center to fetch a Multi-Day Explorer Pass for you, your mate, and everyone in your litter.

Step 2: Head over to the San Diego History Center to view a brief documentary on Balboa Park’s history and to sniff out three important Centennial-themed exhibitions: San Diego Invites the World: The 1915 Expo, Masterworks: Art of the Exposition Era,and The Ingenious Dr. Seuss.

Step 3: Hightail it to the Mingei International Museum to reconnect with your American roots through two colorful displays of Americana: Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum and Black Dolls from the Collection of Deborah Neff, which closes July 5.

Step 4: Swing by the always-free Timken Museum of Art to take a quick gander at the world-famous painting by Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, on special loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Step 5: Take a load off your paws by relaxing in the new Plaza de Panama Living Room, where on Saturday at 1pm you can enjoy a free music performance as part of the Music in the Park series.

Step 6: Instead of or in addition to Step 5, slip into the nearby Panama 66 outdoor café to sample some of the best offerings of San Diego’s award-winning craft beer industry in the historic San Diego Museum of Art sculpture garden.

Step 7: Celebrate the Fourth of July at an American-style picnic at the House of Hospitality Lawn Program, hosted by the good ol’ House of USA on Saturday, 12–4pm, and Sunday, 2–3pm.

Step 8: If you aren’t dog-tired yet from a full-day, or you are on Day 2 of your visit, it’s time to free roam the dozens of other park attractions and museums to see such pup-friendly exhibitions as Circus: Science Under the Big Top at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Coast to Cactus in Southern California at the San Diego Natural History Museum, and 2theXtreme—MathAlive! at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

If after all that you still haven’t seen and heard enough, visit for a complete listing of other Centennial activities in Balboa Park.

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