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January 3, 2012
“Poncho’s First Snow” Takes Top Honors in Winter Pet Photo Contest


Caitlin Day of Newington CT has been awarded the Grand Prize in the Best Friends Pet Care “Nippin’ at your Nose” winter photo contest for her photo entitled “Poncho’s First Snow”.   The photo features Poncho, an 8-month old Chihuahua-Yorkie mix puppy, his face dotted with snow, being snuggled by a caring human against an icy snow storm.

Day’s photo was voted into the top ten out of more than 675 Facebook entries, making it eligible for consideration for the Grand Prize. A panel of judges then evaluated the ten finalist photos, and selected Poncho’s First Snow as the winner. Day will receive $1000 in cash and her photo will be featured on the Best Friends Pet Care website and Facebook page (

“There were so many wonderful photos that the judges had a tough challenge selecting the Grand Prize winner,” explained Renee Coughlin, VP of Marketing for Best Friends Pet Care.  “They ultimately chose Caitlin’s because it really delivered against all the contest criteria:  It’s a beautiful and well taken photograph, it reflects the contest theme perfectly and it embodies the spirit of the Best Friends brand.”

“What a great way to start the New Year!”  said Day, when she was notified that her photo had been selected.  She explained that the photo was taken during the freak October snow that hit Connecticut just before Halloween.  “It’s was Poncho’s first snowstorm, and my sister and I took him out to play,” she said. “We picked him up to snuggle him because we were worried his feet were getting cold.”

Day rescued Poncho, who had been abandoned by his previous owner because of health issues, last summer.  She has another dog, a Chihauhua, who is also a rescue.

The “Nippin’ at your Nose” contest ran from November 11 through December 29, 2011.  In addition to presenting a grand prize, Best Friends is honoring the top 30 vote-getters in the contest: 10 finalists will receive gift certificates for a week of Doggy Day Camp or a Pampered Pooch Weekend boarding package, and 20 runners- up will receive $50 gift certificates good at any Best Friends Pet Care center nationwide.

“Our congratulations to all the winners and our thanks to everyone who entered,” said Coughlin.   “We were so delighted with the response to the contest, we’ll be running another one soon.”


More details on the judges decision:

While there were many fun and well-executed photos submitted, we chose “Poncho’s First Snow” as the winner because we felt it did the best job of meeting all of the contest criteria:

1.  It does a great job of representing the Best Friends brand.  We see Poncho being held close by a caring human, who is warming him after playing in the snow. The bond between pet and human is apparent, mirroring the care and attention guests receive from the loving professionals at Best Friends centers.  We also can see that Poncho is wearing ID tags, demonstrating responsible dog ownership – something Best Friends promotes.

2.   It beautifully reflects the contest theme.  A puppy discovering snow for the very first time is an iconic winter image.  The scene feels natural and intimate, as though we are getting a glimpse into Poncho’s daily life, and we’re happy to be included in this little moment in time.

3.    Technically, this is a great photo.  Poncho is the main focus:  he is in the center of the frame and his eyes, looking directly into the camera, draw you in.  The vehicle in the background, buried in snow and adorned with icicles, is out of focus, conveying the drama of the storm without upstaging the subject. The dark-light balance between jacket and snow further enhance the image.

And, although it didn’t affect our choice, this shot also was clearly a “fan favorite”, receiving the most comments from voters in the top ten.

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