Canine Companions is hosting a DogFest where you can have a paw-some day with your fur baby on Sept. 25.
The event will take place at The Avenue Viera from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Festivities will include games for children, a fashion show for dressed-up dogs, live music and food. It’s free to enter, but you must register.
“We’re so excited to have an in-person event this year, as well as a virtual option,” said Martha Johnson, the public relations and marketing coordinator for the Southeast Region of Canine Companions.
“The Space Coast is a great place to rally for our cause. People in this area are already actively involved in the program, but we want to raise even more awareness.”
DogFest Space Coast supports the mission of the nonprofit organization Canine Companions for Independence to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by providing expertly trained service dogs free of charge. These dogs make a profound impact through the jobs they do such as opening doors, picking up dropped items and alerting to sounds.
While it costs approximately $50,000 to raise and train every Canine Companions service dog and provide ongoing support, each dog is provided to recipients free of charge, according to the Canine Companions website. Canine Companions has placed more than 6,600 service dogs, but more than 400 people with disabilities are still waiting for a match.
On the Space Coast, there are currently 11 active graduate service dogs and four active puppy raisers.
Event chairperson Karen Londos is a Viera real estate agent who said she had her life changed by a Canine Companions service dog.
“I’m deaf and I have a hearing dog who alerts me to sounds I can’t hear on my own,” Londos said. “When I got my first service dog in 2012, it gave me a sense of security and allowed me to come out of my shell in public.”
Londos said she and the other organizers hope to educate people on the importance of legitimate service dogs and how they help people with disabilities stay independent.
“It’s a family event and I would encourage everyone to stop by and participate — just have fun,” she said.
When registering, be sure to indicate you are bringing a dog to get your free DogFest dog bandana. Then participate in fundraising to qualify for some fun DogFest swag. There are sponsorship, volunteer and vendor opportunities, too.