Husker Dogfest A Success

About 400 people and 200 dogs attended Husker DogFest on Saturday, August 11, in the greenspace immediately south of Manter Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. The event’s organizer, Associate Professor of Psychology Jeffrey Stevens proclaimed the event a success. “I think it was terrific!  We had a great turn out for visitors, and fabulous demonstrations, vendors, and games.”

The purpose of the festival was to showcase UNL’s new Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab, and to recruit dog owners to participate in its upcoming research studies.

The free, open-to-the-public event included lab tours, professional dog demonstrations, dog activities, pet-related vendors, and food vendors.

Registrants had the opportunity to sign their dog up for the fall studies, which will focus on dog psychology and dog-human interactions, and were also entered into a raffle to win a gift basket valued at $50.

The lab brings together associate professor of psychology Stevens’ interests in both human and animal cognition. Tours were given every thirty minutes. A mini-lab, where owners could test their dog’s smarts, was also offered at the festival.

When research begins in September, dogs will be brought in to play games for treats while researchers record data about their decision-making and cognition. The second part of the research will have participants interact with dogs to see how they influence people.

There were four dog-related demonstrators. Prairie Skies, Kansas City Disc Dogs, and UNL and Nebraska State Patrol police dogs each gave two demonstrations. Prairie Skies, operated by Jill Morstad, who has been teaching people to train their dogs since 1985, showed off obedience. Kansas City Disc Dogs is a group of owners and their dogs that enjoy playing frisbee for fun and competition and have performed for sporting events. The UNL police dogs demonstrated bomb detection work, and were tweeted about at https://twitter.com/k9_layla.

The festival also featured 15 other dog-related organizations including Norland Pure, which provided a watering station for dogs, and three food vendors.

Given the event’s success of this year, Stevens said he’d definitely hold another festival. He credited the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with its wonderful support of Husker DogFest and said that he couldn’t have done the event without UNL and the event’s sponsors. “I want to thank the university, sponsors, volunteers, demonstration groups, and vendors for helping create an outstanding event!” Stevens said. He added that if anyone is interested in enrolling their dog in his studies, go to UNL’s Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab website.

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