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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Cosmos Blog, Ask Cosmos, Bruno and RosieBruno and Rosie write: Dear Cosmos, the dog days of summer are extremely overrated. It’s really the final weeks before the start of spring that have a way of bringing us down. What do you recommend?

Cosmos: You hit the nail right on the snout with that one. Anticipating all the new sights, sounds, and smells that come with springtime can be excruciating at times. But this old dog has a few tricks up her sleeve for preventing this time of year from affecting my usual sunny disposition. What’s my secret? Sniffing out some of these late-winter activities in Balboa Park to lift my mood and make me forget it’s still doggie-sweater weather.

Desert Garden, Balboa Park 2014Botanical Building: This horticulture wonderland puts the green into evergreen, while an ample collection of blooming orchids can add a splash of color to any grey overcast day, even for colorblind pooches.

Desert Garden and Cactus Garden: Speaking of color, the scores of blossoming succulents and curious-looking desert flora in the Desert and Cactus Gardens can provide quick funk relief to even the most downward of dogs.

Sunday Organ Concerts: There’s really no better way to shake off the winter blahs than by having bright sunshine and up-tempo tunes piped in at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion concerts each Sunday afternoon at 2pm.

International Cottages Lawn Programs: These mini-cultural festivals don’t wait until spring to start bringing mood-elevating music, lively dance performances, colorful costumes, and warm smiles to the faces of park visitors.

Dog Parks: Pet therapy is really where it’s at these days, so why not start your course of treatment by watching cute, cuddly canines frolicking in one of the three dog parks in Balboa Park?

Disclaimer: All of the above activities are free and have no negative side-effects.

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Bark in the Park 8, Parade of Pooches, Balboa Park, Spreckels Organ PavilionI know Valentine’s Day is this Friday, but rather than torment my fellow lone wolves by describing all the exciting, fun, and romantic things couples can do in Balboa Park this weekend, I’ll focus on the best way that we can all share the love: Bark in the Park 8 on Sunday, February 16.

Once again, the free Sunday afternoon concert in Spreckels Organ Pavilion is going to the dogs—literally. Now in its eighth year, Bark in the Park helps raise awareness and much-needed funds for sheltered animals who have so much love to give.

Perennial pet-lover and San Diego Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams will present a family-friendly selection of animal-themed tunes beginning at 2pm. As part of her grand finale, all leashed pooches in attendance will be invited on stage for their 15 seconds of fame and a fetching photo opportunity.

All donations collected at the event will support the San Diego Humane Society, which will be on hand to answer all your questions about pet adoption and how to otherwise support canine (and feline) kind.

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Museum Month, San Diego Air & Space Museum EntranceYou’d think after 25 years I’d get over it, even if I was that old in human years: half-priced admission to dozens of museums throughout San Diego County, including over a dozen right here in my own backyard, Balboa Park, for an entire month!

Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier for all my bipedal packmates, who can pick up their free Museum Month Pass at any participating Macy’s department store to receive their discounted entry privileges through the end of the month.

Unfortunately, not being a certified service animal, I am not allowed to accompany them. Instead, I’ll be spending many an hour home alone during the month of February awaiting my family’s return. Well, at least they always come home with smiles on their faces (the human equivalent to tail-wagging as I understand it) and plenty of information about what’s going on in Balboa Park museums that I can share with my readers.

So what can I look forward to missing? For starters, a number of interesting, first-class exhibits at these popular Balboa Park museums:


Japanese Friendship Garden

Marston House & Gardens

Mingei International Museum

Museum of Photographic Art

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Automotive Museum

San Diego History Center

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Natural History Museum

The San Diego Museum of Art

Timken Museum of Art

Veterans Museum and Memorial Center


Fortunately for me, February is also Bark in the Park month (February 16) and the month that Lawn Programs return to the House of Hospitality International Cottages (February 23)—so I'll be back to my tail-wagging self in no time!.

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t remember the last time it’s rained cats and dogs in San Diego. And I’m certainly not alone in missing the sweet smell of wet dog fur. But what can a mere mammal do during drought conditions such as these?

While I wouldn’t advocate running through the sprinklers on a warm winter’s day, there are certainly other ways to take advantage of this not-so-unusual weather pattern.

Balboa Park, Desert Garden in winterLearn from Our Drought-Tolerant Friends

There’s no time like a drought to remember that we live in a desert climate. In fact, city gardeners are continually digging up flower beds and planters throughout Balboa Park’s 1,200-acre campus to add more and more native plant and tree species that require less watering—adding to the many already in place.

A great way to begin your exploration of park flora is the Saturday morning Offshoot Tours. Not only are the knowledgeable tour guides able to grow your knowledge about what’s growing around Balboa Park, but four-legged friends can tag along and discover unique facts about their favorite trees. Tours meet at 10am in front of the Visitors Center, where you can pick up a water bottle in case you forgot to bring one.

Desert and Other Drought-Friendly Gardens

For those who prefer hibernating on Saturday mornings, there are plenty of special gardens throughout the Park that you can visit on your own time to get a leg up on which plants flourish in our region.

The two most obvious ones are the Desert Garden, located on Park Blvd. across the street from the Natural History Museum, and the Old Cactus Garden, nestled behind the Balboa Park Club.

But be sure to also sniff your way down into the Australian Garden, featuring drought-friendly species from down under, the California Native Plant Garden, conveniently located next to the Morley Field Dog Park, and the Florida Canyon Native Plant Preserve, along Zoo Place.

I’m getting thirsty just thinking about all these long walks through dry-climate gardens.

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Ask Cosmos, Millie selfieMillie writes: Now that my pack knows their team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, what’s the best way for them to still have a super Sunday?

Cosmos: Unless the San Diego Chargers are involved, as far as I’m concerned, the only “super bowl” worth having is one filled with prime rib, top sirloin, and other succulent treats. There’s certainly Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl as a viable alternative, but in its 10th year I doubt we’ll see anything we haven’t seen before.

Because most people will watch the Super Bowl, even if just for the commercials (making Madison Avenue the big game’s only real winner), they don’t realize that Super Bowl Sunday is the one weekend day each year the Park is relatively empty, but everything is still open.

Cosmos Blog, Super Bowl Sunday activity, Guitar exhibition, RH Fleet Science CenterImagine having the entire Park to yourself, with all its sights, sounds, and scents, on a Sunday afternoon no less! Here are just a few ways to take advantage of this unique opportunity:

  • Enjoy a popular interactive exhibition like Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center or the newly reinstalled Ripley’s Believe or Not at the Air & Space Museum without having to wait long, if at all, to interact with all the displays.
  • Take a picture or have your picture taken inside the Botanical Building without a random tourist accidentally walking into the photo.
  • Park yourself and your pooch wherever you want inside the Spreckels Organ Pavilion to hear the free Sunday afternoon concert.
  • Get seated immediately at The Prado Restaurant—without reservations.
  • Experience a special moment in front of a beautiful painting at one of the art museums without someone’s cell phone going off.

Of course now that the cat’s out of the bag regarding one of Balboa Park’s best kept secrets, February 2 may be just like any other Sunday in the Park. Speaking of cats, do we really need a Kitten Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday as well?

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