The barking inside the Lancaster Event Center Sunday afternoon wasn’t coming from the vendors peddling goods or the customers milling. The barking was from the four-legged poodles, pooches and pugs amassed inside the center for the “I Love My Dog Expo.”
Shelly Escamilla and her dog Finnegan, a 160-pound chocolate brown Newfoundland, were among thousands of other dogs and owners.
“It was great to see all the different breeds of dogs and extreme looks, like a poodle dyed pink,” Escamilla said.
The expo held Saturday and Sunday featured more than 60 vendors from the Lincoln area and drew more than 3,000 dog owners and dog lovers, according to event organizer Michelle Ashley.
The event was sponsored by Domesti-Pups, a volunteer-based organization that provides service dogs to the disabled and pet therapy programs. This is the sixth year they have sponsored the event.
“This has been the busiest year by far,” said Ashley, executive director of Domesti-Pups. “It’s a fun event for people to get involved with their dogs.”
There were different entertainment events each hour of the fair. Such events included doga, which is yoga for dogs, search and rescue demonstrations from Lincoln Fire & Rescue and “Muttalica,” a group of dogs dressed like the band Metallica.
Participants could view Earthdog demonstrations, where terriers and Dachshunds hunt for vermin underground. In these demonstrations, tunnels made from wood were set up with plexiglass-paneled walls, and the dogs could be seen hunting.
Domesti-Pups has multiple pet therapy programs it provides to communities in Lincoln, Omaha and St. Joseph, Mo. The group also sends dogs to schools, where children read out loud to them. Ashley said because dogs are not judgmental of reading ability, they act as a motivator for children who struggle with reading.
There were dogs of all shapes and sizes, from giant Great Danes to tiny Dachshunds, from dogs with three legs to dogs with mohawks.
Vendors peddled caps, shirts, leashes and other pet items. Owners could get a caricature of their dogs drawn. There were also raffles participants could enter to win a variety of pet-related prizes.
Businesses such as Camp Bow Wow and dog boutiques had booths set up. Domesti-Pups sponsored “Pawsitively Photos-To-Go,” where dog owners could get a professional photo of their dog taken.
“Getting to see the different breeds together and getting along was great,” said LuAnn Mozer, a volunteer at Pug Partners of Nebraska, an organization that rescues pugs from puppy mills.
Pugs are taken to vets and found new homes. The group had a booth set up where participants could pet pugs in need of homes.
Brad Naber, a dog owner, said it was great for his dog Lexi, a tan and white boxer, to get to meet other dogs.
“Watching her get to socialize with other dogs is nice,” Naber said. “It gives her experience.”
Ashley said the event helps dogs get out of the house and out of the cold.
“This is the one event in middle of winter that people can bring their dogs to,” she said.