three Canine Companions service dogs wearing DogFest bandanaAbout DogFest

DogFest supports the mission of Canine Companions® to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by providing expertly trained service dogs, free of charge. These service dogs make a profound impact through the jobs they do like opening doors, picking up dropped items, alerting to sounds and much more.

Our dogs love us endlessly, and the human-canine bond is powerful! Whether as service dogs, working dogs or pet dogs, there are countless tales of our best friends doing amazing things. We invite you to join the fun at your local DogFest or participate virtually as we celebrate the incredible joy dogs bring to our lives. Registration is free. Fundraising is encouraged.

Why We Fundraise

Canine Companions transforms the lives of people with disabilities by providing expertly trained service dogs. Our dogs perform practical tasks that enhance independence and reduce reliance on others. They aren’t just the eyes and ears, hands and legs of their human partners, they’re also goodwill ambassadors and often, our best friends. A student achieves their dreams of attending college. A veteran gets a good night sleep. A patient can endure an additional procedure. Lives are transformed after being matched and working with a Canine Companions service dog.

According to the U.S. Census, nearly 1 in 4 people in the U.S. have a disability. While it costs approximately $50,000 to raise and train every Canine Companions service dog and provide ongoing support to the human-canine team, each dog is provided to the recipient completely FREE of charge. Canine Companions has placed over 6,600 service dogs, but more than 400 people with disabilities are still waiting for a match.

Our service dogs open up new opportunities and spread incredible joy. By raising funds through DogFest, you support our mission and the people we serve. Thank you.

DogFest 2021 Locations

(Registration is open for events in bold)

If you would like more information about registration, volunteer opportunities, sponsorship, and vendor opportunities for one or more of the events listed below, please click here and complete this form.

DogFest Jacksonville – March 28

DogFest Orlando – April 17

DogFest Southwest – September 4

DogFest North Central – September 12

DogFest Philly/NJ – September 25

DogFest Texas – October 2

DogFest Washington DC – October 23

DogFest Northwest – October 30

DogFest Alabama – TBD

DogFest Long Island/NYC – TBD

DogFest New England – TBD

DogFest Space Coast – TBD

Stories of Independence

Knightly & Cadbury
Knightly & Cadbury in hold style garage decorated placeKnightly, who has Down syndrome and apraxia, was matched with an assistance dog named Cadbury, a two-year-old black Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, professionally trained in over 40 commands to help Knightly live a more independent life. Cadbury has been able to assist Knightly by encouraging communication, behavioral reinforcement, speech production, social inclusion, and so much more. Cadbury is more than a best friend — he is an important partner in independence for Knightly. “Our family has grown by four paws and an incredible group of ambassadors who show that a life with a disability is full of hope, opportunity and community,” Knightly’s parents, David and Drexelle share. “Our son has found his best friend who loves and plays with him, no questions asked.”
Chris & Nikko
New Castle County Police Department welcomed expertly trained Facility Dog Nikko to their team. Nikko helps in criminal investigations, including calming a young girl long enough for detectives to gather necessary evidence from a crime scene. “The whole situation was causing her stress and anxiety,” said Master Cpl. Chris Gigliotti, Nikko’s handler and a member of the department’s Community Services Unit. “So, we got on the floor and played. We taught her a couple of Nikko’s commands, and after about an hour, she became agreeable to the investigation.” Nikko has been trained in numerous commands to ease trauma victims in stressful situations as well as assist children and other vulnerable populations.
Leigh & Nerf
Leigh in a wheel chair walking her service dog on the sidewalk Leigh Dittman was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, which makes her bones weaker than normal and more prone to fractures. When it was time for her to apply for college, she knew that she would need physical help. That’s where Service Dog Nerf enters the picture. ”Nerf was the perfect match for me and now, with him by side, I am able to attend The University of Tampa and achieve my college dream. This wouldn’t have happened without Canine Companions.” shares Leigh. When Leigh is at school or running errands, she needs some physical assistance. Nerf assists by retrieving dropped items, pulling Leigh’s manual wheelchair and other tasks that enable Leigh to be more independent and involved around campus and in life.