On Saturday, July 22, 90 dachshunds will compete for a chance to win cash prizes. Proceeds from the event benefit the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, which is a non-profit, no-kill shelter dedicated to finding homes for stray animals.
The Wiener Nationals begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Los Alamitos Race Course at 4961 Katella Ave., in Cypress.
Admission is $3 for adults, and free for children ages 17 and under.
Katie Row’s year-and-a-half-old puppy Henry Morton will be racing for the first time.
“When I moved to Long Beach, I had never heard of it,” said Row of the Wiener Nationals. “But everyone talked about it, so I was like, ‘I have to do it.’ I emailed photos and a video of Henry running, and then I got an email that he was going to be in the races, so I was super excited.”
Henry was adopted by Row when he was 2 months old. Now, she considers the dog her “only son.” She is excited to see how he does at the Wiener Nationals. “I take him to the dog park all the time and he’s super fast,” Row said. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, he would be totally good for [racing].’ I’m hoping he does well. He’s such a loving, happy, energetic dog.”
Katie is bringing along her best friend to help with loading Henry into the box at the starting line so that the pup can run to her.
Rory McDonald’s 2-year-old dachshund Baby is also preparing for her first race.
“My friends have gone a couple times,” McDonald said. “Everyone loved their dogs like I love her, and everyone said, ‘Why don’t you put her in?’ It seemed like it could be fun, and all my friends wanted to join in.”
McDonald says he is excited to see how Baby does at the practice runs. “I feel like she’s going to stop and do something cute in the middle or bolt right to me,” he said. “She’s very attached to me, so she’s going to be anxious in the box.”
Some dog owners use lures such as toys or food to get their dogs to run to them, but McDonald has a different plan for what he will use. “Just love,” he said. “She loses interest in toys after a little bit. She’d rather be cuddling or sitting on my lap.”
McDonald said that Baby loves attention, and will enjoy being around so many people and dogs at the race.
“She’s probably going to sleep well that night,” he said.
Laura Scully’s 6-year-old dog Tootsie has raced several times before at the Wiener Nationals and other dog races. At only 8 pounds, Tootsie is smaller than much of her competition, and once ran in a one-on-one “Big/Little” race against a nearly 20 pound dachshund.
“She loves to run around all the time at one speed,” Scully said. “We were in a Petco parking lot and she was running circles around me, and someone said, ‘You know, you should take that dog to the races.’ We have taken her to more than a couple, and we enjoy going to these events when we can because this is a win-win-wiener situation. Everyone gets to support a no-kill shelter and that’s everybody’s dream – that a pet has a forever home.”
Tootsie will run in a jacket that makes her look like her namesake —a Tootsie Roll. Scully will be ready for her at the finish line with her favorite food as her lure.
“She normally eats very healthy food,” Scully said. “But she gets crazy when she smells a tiny bit of a hot dog.”
Tootsie’s size doesn’t necessarily work to her advantage.
“Her heart’s definitely in it, but she’s little,” Scully said. “If she gets bumped, it takes her a little while to recover. She gets going sideways. It’s like free range chicken because they’re just all over the place. They run into each other and all over the place, and run part of the way and turn back. It’s the funniest thing on four legs you’re ever going to see. I’m just really happy to do this. I think it’s a great community thing and it’s fun, too.”
Scully said that Tootsie seems to enjoy the competitions. While she’s being loaded into the box, she’ll frequently bark loudly to be let out, which veteran racers refer to as “talking trash.” Scully said she is looking forward to returning to the race, especially because of the money raised to help animals.
“No matter who wins,” Scully said, “Everybody is a wiener.”