Hot Pets Contest: And the winners are...

Perhaps the only upside to the last week's Heat of Insanity was the phenomenal turnout for Unleashed's My Pet is Sooooo Hot contest.

The heat inspired us!

More than 40 people sent in entries that showed just how hot their pets got during the heat wave -- and what they were doing to keep their cool. We saw dogs monopolizing air-conditioning vents, dogs trying to dive into their water bowls and dogs lounging poolside like A-list celebrities.

There was even one cool cat

I think it was a lot of fun for readers to see so many funny, adorable and impressive pets. And now it's time for the competitors to learn who actually won.

Choosing the winners wasn't an easy job. Judges included Sun photo editor Bob Hamilton judging Best Photo, video editor LeeAnn Adams choosing Best Video and newsroom staffers Richard Gorelick, Chris Kaltenbach, Lori Sears and Arthur Hirsch helping me decide the winners of the Funniest, Cutest, Best Trick and Coolest categories. Your feedback determined the People's Choice winner.

Without further ado, the winners are:

Best Photo: Archie the soaking-wet Schnoodle.

Bob explains why: There is serious cuteness going on in this photo. The dog is sopping wet, but has an expression that says “What are looking at?”  Photographically speaking this may not be the strongest picture, but kudos to the photographer for having the smarts to capture the moment.

Best Video: The Don't Worry Be Happy Dogs

LeeAnn explains why: I think most people can relate to wanting to hang out poolside on a scorching day. The music perfectly reflects the laid back attitude of the dogs. You really don't expect to see a dog so comfortably floating on an air mattress. You really don't expect to see two of them.  Also, the bright yellow and red floaties are a nice contrast to the cool aqua-colored water. The colors are so vibrant. It also leaves you wondering: How did they get up there?

Funniest: Sadie, the pup who forgot the pool has to have water in it to work.

This one is fairly self-explanatory. The whole idea that Sadie would hop into the pool, having remembered how fun it was the last time she was in there.... except this time something was different. Priceless.

A very close runner-up in this category was Saxon, the Golden Retriever who found that she had a little too much junk in the trunk to fit into the baby pool.

Cutest: Brewer, the vent-hogging Beagle puppy with the best ears in the business.

Again, self-explanatory. Adorable puppy who learned verrrry early where to find the coolest spot of the house. The ears seemingly blowing in the rush front the vent only seal the deal.

Best Trick: Bohdie, who knows how to stand upright in the pool. How awesome is this? He walks around in there on two legs. And he taught himself!!!

Coolest: Milly, the Golden who looked cool as can be in her own backyard pool. Here she is just the epitome of summertime ease, keeping her cool in the pool. Maybe the pups who won Best Video can bring her a drink.

People's Choice: An utter tie between O.C. the scrappy alley cat and the high-spirited dogs of BARCS. Late Sunday night, these two literally had the exact same number of votes. More than 130 votes EACH. Both entries featured wonderful animals in need of homes. And both were sent in by caretakers who wanted nothing but the best for them. I was happy to see that by the end of the contest, Sandy, the joyous leaping dog, had found a home. I think Artsie, the other pup featured in that entry, is still available. As is O.C., the well-fed orange kitty who's charmed an entire neighborhood. As more than a few commenters put it, wouldn't a loving home be the best prize for these furries? (BTW, a close runner-up here was Josie, the puppy Michael Phelps who is also available for adoption. Give her a second look.)

Speaking of prizes, every winner will be getting a little something. I'll be contacting them individually. And the People's Choice winners will each log in some time as the face of Unleashed on the blog's Facebook page. 

Thanks again to everyone who entered, to everyone who voted and commented. And big round of applause for the winners. Altogether, a refreshing splash of joy during a run of some otherwise hard-to-bear days. Now stay cool out there!

To see all the Hot Pets entries with their complete stories, go here.

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