Dog Expo helps group provide service dogs to those in need

 Posted By: Camila Orti

For many, a dog is like another friend or family member; for some, they’re a guide necessary to day-to-day life.

The 8th annual I Love My Dog Expo raises money for an organization called Domesti-PUPS, which provides service and therapy dogs to those in need of them.

Organizers say around 2,600 people came through the Lancaster Event Center over the weekend to share their love of dogs. 85 vendors, from nonprofit adoption agencies to dog bakeries, set up shop. There was no lack of entertainment, either. Several demonstrations and workshops were scheduled throughout the two-day event.

For Tonja Peterson-Wendt, having a dog is about more than just companionship, it’s about independence. After suffering severe concussions due to a couple car accidents, Peterson-Wendt’s vision started playing tricks on her, shifting her visual field higher than what it really is.

“I was always falling back,” she explained.

The 45-year-old says her growing complications and sometimes paralyzing migraines makes it hard to get around by herself, especially since falling is a very real hazard.

“I don’t trust what I see, I just learned to trust how it feels,” Peterson-Wendt said.

That’s where Duke comes in. The 4-year-old black lab has been Peterson-Wendt’s service dog for about two years. Besides giving her stability, Peterson-Wendt says Duke can tell when one of her migraines is coming on, and will bring her medicine.

“I have my independence back, I can leave my house, I can be functional,” she said.

Duke is one of several dogs Domesti-PUPS helped to provide. The nonprofit serves clients locally, regionally and nationally.