Ready… Set… Go!
Eighteen wiener dogs of all ages raced for the title of top dog at the fifth annual Ren’s Pet Depot Wiener Dog Races on Friday at Grand River Raceway.
The free event saw three heats of six wiener dogs raced on a 20 metre track to qualify, with the top three of each race moving on to the finals.
Two people and one wiener dog make up each team: a “releaser” holds the dog behind the starting line until the race begins and a “catcher” tries to encourage the dog with a toy and by calling its name.
Not only did members of the crowd get to enjoy the wiener dog races, they also had the chance to watch and bet on the horse races, play slot machines, try something from the food trucks – and of course – eat a hot dog.
Rosie, a 20-month-old dachshund, raced for the first time at the event and ended up qualifying for the finals. Her owner, Jennifer Collins, decided to enter Rosie after watching the previous year’s race. Her training strategy, similar to many of the other wiener dog owners, was to practice running in a straight line and rewarding her dog with treats and toys.
Another entrant, The Mighty Zeus, trains every spring ahead of the race by running against a fellow wiener dog.
Despite their training, some of the wiener dogs were distracted and did not qualify, running in zigzags, trying to play with the other dogs, accidentally cutting off a focused dog, or not wanting to leave their owner’s side to go to the finish line.
The 2018 and 2017 winners, Dashpig and Mustard, competed in the third heat against wiener dogs of a similar skill level and easily qualified for the finals. However, they were bested by Flash, another dachshund that qualified in their same heat. Even after crossing the finish line, Flash was so full of excitement that he went past his catcher and kept on running.
Natasha Kottelenberg, Flash’s owner, says that his key to staying fit is his love for chasing squirrels in the backyard.
The four-year-old dachshund has previously won first prize at other wiener dog races in the area. “I didn’t know about wiener dog races until after I got Flash, but he loves the experience and all the attention he gets,” said Kottelenberg. “It was a spur of the moment decision to enter him in his first race, and he’s done really well ever since.”
The top qualifier in each heat won small gift cards, with the top three of the finals receiving prize packs with gift cards and dog accessories.