Inspired by the wildly successful Internet Cat Video Festival, a Twin Cities nonprofit is launching a Dog Video Festival to give dog lovers their day in the sun.

Can Do Canines, which trains service dogs for people with medical conditions and disabilities, is seeking original video submissions from the public for the Sept. 17 event. Entries are due next month.

The nonprofit is located on a four-acre parcel in New Hope, where a large outdoor screen will be set up for canine lovers to relax and enjoy the show. A dog costume contest, dog vendors and music will be part of the mix.

“The cats have had their time: Now it’s time for dogs to show what they can do,” said Emilie Branca, events director for Can Do Canines, Minnesota’s largest nonprofit providing service-dog training.

But first, organizers needs Minnesotans to send their favorite videos of Buster, Bella and other canine buddies.

The festival flier describes what organizers are looking for: “Does your dog have an amazing skill? How about a quirky habit? Funny, heartwarming or anywhere in between, we want to see it.”

More than 11,000 people attended the fourth annual Internet Cat Video Festival at CHS Field in St. Paul last year. Branca isn’t expecting such a massive turnout for the dogs’ first year, but the nonprofit plans to move the festival off site, as soon as next year, to accommodate growth, she said.

The video festival will start at 1 p.m., following an 11 a.m. walkathon fundraiser held annually by Can Do Canines. Funds raised through the events will support the nonprofit, which has graduated about 530 assistance dogs since 1989.

The dogs undergo hundreds of hours of training and socialization with volunteer puppy raisers, paid staff and specially selected prisoners at a handful of Minnesota prisons, said Alan Peters, its founder and executive director. Cost is about $25,000 per dog.

The nonprofit now trains canine assistants for people with diabetes, autism, seizures, hearing loss and mobility issues such as required use of a wheelchair.

The diabetes-trained dogs, for example, monitor the smell of a person’s breath and alert them when their blood sugar is dropping, said Peters. Seizure response dogs are trained to act in certain ways once a seizure occurs, such as pressing a medical alert button, bringing a cordless phone, or going out and seeking help, he said.

Dogs working with autistic children act as a “social lubricant” with the outside world and prevent them from bolting away from their parents when they are away from home, he said.

Video submissions for the festival must be original but don’t have to be professional, said Branca. Something shot with a cellphone would work just fine.

Deadline for submitting a video is Aug. 14. The cost of attending the festival is $10. For more information on sending in your entries, go to


Jean Hopfensperger 612-673-4511