A party all about pups

Canine Companions for Independence event DogFest celebrates and supports service dogs June 22

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Dogs of all kinds make the world a better place.

A dog house created and donated by Mrs. Nitcy’s first grade class at Farmin Stidwell Elementary. Photo by Lyndsie Kiebert.

But it could be argued that dogs raised and trained through the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence may take the cake for dogs going above and beyond to improve the world we live in.

Celebrate those dogs by attending DogFest 2019 on Saturday, June 22, at Forrest Bird Charter School 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and support the organization’s mission to provide skilled assistance dogs to disabled people at no cost.

When DogFest was first held in Sandpoint last year, the local CCI chapter raised $20,000.

“I was shocked,” said CCI puppy raiser and event organizer Lilly Mitsui. “We had great support from the community.”

The Inland Northwest Chapter of CCI — of which Sandpoint is a part — is one of 44 chapters across the country. DogFest celebrations all over share in the common goal to raise funds to keep these specially trained service dogs free of charge to the families they’re matched with. Mitsui said CCI dogs are worth $50,000.

“We have a waiting list all over the country of people who need dogs,” she said. “Money raised through DogFest supports breeding, raising, training and placing the dogs.”

Mitsui described DogFest as a “crazy canine festival for dog lovers,” but added that you don’t have to have a dog to come. However, there will be plenty of games and treats — including “musical sits” and even frozen doggy ice cream, to name a few — if the family pup does tag along. All well-socialized dogs are welcome on a leash. 

There will also be activities for kids, the chance to meet CCI dogs and the companions they matched with, as well as breakfast and lunch from Jupiter Jane and music from Kevin Dorin. KXLY 4 Chief Meteorologist Kris Crocker will emcee the event. DogFest is free to attend, but donations are appreciated.

“It’s just a fun, festive family day,” Mitsui said.

DogFest will feature more than 30 silent auction items and will also mark the end of CCI’s “Raise the Woof” dog house silent auction, which is going on now at the Sandpoint Center. Three dog houses were created and donated by Mrs. Nitcy’s first grade class at Farmin Stidwell Elementary, Duke’s Dynamics and Winterhawk Construction to raise funds for CCI. The houses will remain downtown for bidding until June 21, when they’ll be moved to Forrest Bird Charter School in preparation for DogFest on June 22. Once at DogFest, people can bid on the houses until 12:30 p.m. After that, winners will be announced.

To learn more about DogFest, the “Raise the Woof” dog house auction or about CCI in general, visit cci.org/dogfestnorthidaho. 

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