Four years after the cat-loving kooks at the Walker Art Center decided to make an entire summer festival out of YouTube cat videos, Minneapolis’ Internet Cat Video Festival has spawned copycats from Portland to Northern Ireland, while buoying the careers of some of the world’s most influential felines.
In 2015, about 13,000 flower-crowned fans with faces painted like cats crowded St. Paul’s CHS Field to watch a stream of videos curated by Will Braden, creator of Henri Le Chat Noir – the existential French tuxedo cat.
Could videos of dorktastic dogs attract the same mania? Can Do Canines, a provider of assistance dogs to people with disabilities, hopes so. It’s hosting Minnesota’s first Dog Video Festival September 17 at its New Hope ranch.
Emilie Branca, event organizer, believes it’s time that dog owners had a festival of their own. The cat community has set a high bar with big-time celebrities like Grumpy Cat, who won CatVidFest’s Golden Kitty award in 2013 and now travels the world to walk red carpets and pose for magazine covers as a Friskies mascot. But dogs have been longtime chart-toppers of the viral video world too, she says.
For instance, there’s Clark the talking dog whose owner ate all the bacon. Then there are the guilty dog videos, the skittish dogs who tiptoe around cats videos, the dogs welcoming soldiers home videos, the dogs who can’t figure out stairs videos.
“You know the cat video festival is a great event. We just think it’s time for the dogs to have their time on the screen, so it’s kind of equal opportunity,” Branca says. “It’s just wide open what people can submit to the festival. It can be dogs doing something very touching, dogs with a great skill or talent, or just adorable-cute.”
The Dog Video Festival will be held in conjunction with Can Do Canine's annual Woofaroo charity walk, which Branca expects to attract several hundred people and their dogs this year. The proceeds from both events will help Can Do Canine to provide assistance dogs to people suffering from things like blindness, autism, and seizures.
Each dog costs about $25,000 each to raise and train. There are currently 160 people on Can Do Canine's waiting list for autism dogs alone.