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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

[caption id="attachment_1326" align="aligncenter" width="568" caption="Top Dog Grand Prize Winner: Crenshaw"] Crenshaw[/caption]

I am extremely pleased to announce that well over 1,000 votes for Balboa Park’s Top Dog were cast this past week. Leading the pack by a sizable margin is our Grand Prize winner (drum roll, please) — Crenshaw!


His reward for being so doggone cute is an exclusive overnight Sur’uff Camp package at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, complete with surfing lessons for Crenshaw, doggie board shorts, a Surf ‘n’ Turf pet room service meal, and other Loews Loves Pets amenities and treats. Crenshaw’s family will also enjoy a family four-pack of Balboa Park Passports.


[caption id="attachment_1330" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Second Place Winner: Abby"] Abby[/caption]

Second-place goes to the equally adorable Abby. That lucky dog will reap the benefits of a $50 gift certificate from Fetch Pet Care, which now offers group doggie adventures to Fiesta Island, Coronado Dog Beach, and Balboa Park every day.

Coming in third by a snout is the ever-so fetching Kasey. Her photogenic mug netted her family a $25 gift certificate to Terra Restaurant, whose dog-friendly patio seating is perfect for people and pooch watching in the heart of Hillcrest. 

So there you have it, Balboa Park’s Top Dogs for 2010. But of course all of our finalists and entrants are top dogs in my book! Just be sure to stay tuned to this blog for future announcements on next year’s contest. Who knows, Balboa Park’s next Top Dog may very well be you! 


[caption id="attachment_1339" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Third Place Winner: Kasey"] Kasey[/caption]

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Now that you've heard many of my recommendations on places to go in Balboa Park, I'd like to hear from you.

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Though this year’s International Summer Organ Festival may be winding down, things are really heating up—as in making-me-pant heat up. Dennis James is coming to town next Monday, August 23, to present his multimedia Silent Movie Night extravaganza in Spreckels Organ Pavilion!


cosmos-blog_summer-organ-festival_movie-nightDennis James has been an instrumental figure (pun intended) in the revival of screening old silent films to live musical accompaniment. And over the past 30 years he has perfected the art, performing on piano, theater organs, as well as with chamber ensembles and full symphony orchestras.


As fun and entertaining as that is, now imagine him providing the music to a classic silent film like The Yankee Clipper, with all its high seas adventure and intrigue, on one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs in an historic setting. Hence, my effusive panting!


Now if that isn’t enough, Civic Organist Carol Williams closes this summer’s festival on August 30, with what promises to be an equally hot night of jazz. She’s invited local celebrity Dave Scott to join her on trombone, Bill Shreeve on sax, Mark Hunter on electric bass, and Kevin Koch on drums.


They will present several jazz standards like “Moonlight Serenade,” “Take the ‘A’ Train,” and “Misty,” along with original compositions by Carol Williams and Dave Scott, who in addition to being that dapper meteorologist on KUSI-TV is a well-respected songwriter and performer.



Photo Contest Deadline Reminder

Not to take your eye off the ball (and the prize) by highlighting some exciting events coming up, I would also like to remind all my shutter bug friends that this Friday, August 20, is the last day you can send in your entry to the Top Dog Photo Contest.


Please be sure to first bone up on the contest rules as I’m seeing way too many entries with multiple dogs in the picture frame, more than one photo attached to the email, or pictures of pooches taken in someone’s living room or back yard! This is Balboa Park’s Top Dog, not HGTV’s, after all!

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cosmos-blog_morley-field_california-native-plant-areaAnyone who has followed this blog should be well aware that Morley Field is not only home to one of three great dog parks in Balboa Park, but also to the Bud Kearns Memorial Swimming Pool, 25 tennis courts, an archery range, and an 18-hole disc golf course.


On a recent visit, however, I made a point of probing past the dog park and other major facilities to discover much more than meets the snout. For instance, I noticed that each time I enter the dog park’s parking lot, I pass a little gem of a garden featuring native, drought-tolerant plants of California. While I consider myself quite an aficionado of all the lush gardens around Balboa Park’s Central Mesa, I was pleasantly surprised to find this nicely landscaped hillside filled with a variety of blooming plants.


Venturing southeast of the dog park, behind the tennis courts and swimming pool, my head was spinning as I watched several cyclists, who looked as though they had just returned from the Tour de France, going round and round the Velodrome track. It didn’t take long, however, until my attention cosmos-blog_morley-field_baseball-diamondwas diverted once again by balls flying around the nearby baseball fields, which drew me even deeper into Morley Field’s vast sporting facilities.


While I will leave further discussion of these and other recreational amenities to future blog posts, I would like to remind everyone that as part of Balboa Park’s expansive grounds, Morley Field is another great place to scout the location of your winning shot for my Top Dog Photo Contest.

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As I eagerly paw through submissions to Balboa Park’s Top Dog Photo Contest, I wanted to offer my unique canine perspective on how you can improve your chances of winning one of three great prizes, including an exclusive overnight Sur’uff Camp package at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.


cosmos-blog_cosmos-butterfly_zoro-gardenIf you’ve read the contest rules, you know that we are looking for photos of your pooch somewhere in Balboa Park. While having a handsome hound is of course the best place to start, composing your shot to incorporate some of the Park’s majestic scenery is where you can get creative. But don’t get carried away. As much as we love to see spectacular photos of this beautiful park, the photo first and foremost should feature your best friend in his or her best light.


Speaking of light, make sure your picture is clear and sharp. In spite of our grey skies of late, you should still strive to create a photo that isn’t dark and murky. We want to see your dog in all his or her glorious detail, so avoid poorly lit photos taken after dusk without adequate flash or shots in heavily shaded areas of the park’s grounds.


Also make sure the photo is in focus. I know that sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how even with all the advanced technology built into today’s cameras, a shaky trigger finger or poorly adjusted lens or exposure setting can ruin an otherwise fabulous shot!


While some photographic faux paws can certainly be touched up in post-production using photo-editing software, here again, please do not get carried away. The photo should appear as natural as possible as this isn’t an art photo contest. For detailed information on permissible enhancements, be sure to read the fine print of the contest rules. I know that might sound boring, but urging you to read the rules is probably the best tip I can offer!

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