Man's best friend will take over Coffman Park on Oct. 9 for Canine Companions' Dogfest.

Man’s best friend will take over Coffman Park on Oct. 9 for Canine Companions’ Dogfest.

The annual fundraiser for Delaware’s Canine Companions will run from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Coffman Park pavilion and will feature a walk, prizes and raffles.

“It’s a pet-friendly, family-oriented walkathon, and it’s a pledged two-mile walk,” Canine Companions development director Laurel Marks said.

The event will include a DJ, an agility course for canines and raffles for such prizes as cooking classes, sports tickets and restaurant gift certificates.

Dogfest also will include one famous canine.

“Jean Schultz, Charles Schultz’s widow, is on the national board,” Marks said, noting that Snoopy and friends would be featured at the event and on T-shirts.

A costume contest for people and dogs also is scheduled. Costumes will be judged for best overall costume, best canine costume, best human/canine costume and best child costume.

Dogfest organizers hope to raise $20,000 for the costs of training canines.

“We’re a national organization based in Santa Rosa, Calif. We have our own breeding program and receive about 120 dogs each year that are raised from eight weeks to 16 months and then returned to the center for professional training,” Marks said.

The golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers and mixes spend their first months with a volunteer puppy-raiser, who teaches basic obedience skills and socialization prior to receiving instruction on how to be an assistance dog, Marks said.

The entire process takes about two years, and the dogs are valued at $45,000.

“The 40-plus commands are learned and include picking up dropped items, turning on and off lights and opening and closing drawers,” Marks said. “The commands are task-based.”

After training is finished at the Delaware facility on state Route 37, the dogs are placed in homes in 14 different states free of charge. Marks said the Delaware Canine Companions group serves the north central region.

People who receive the assistance dogs from Canine Companions include adults and children with cerebral palsy or autism. The dogs do not get placed with people who are blind or sight-impaired.

“We also have a veterans initiative,” Marks said. “We place dogs with veterans returning from current conflicts (who are) injured or lost a limb or are in a wheelchair. The dogs provide greater independence.”

Marks said some Canine Companions dogs and future assistance dogs would be at Dogfest.

“We have graduates attend with assistance dogs, as well as puppy-raisers with their puppy-in-progress,” she said. “The public is welcome to bring their own dog as long as it’s socialized and has updated shots.”

For more information on Dogfest, look online at faf/home/default.asp?ievent=478939.