Lily had never been in this situation before, but clearly she knew exactly what to do.
At the shout “Go!” she lunged at the bowl and, in little more than the blink of an eye, had gobbled down four chunks of hot dog and stood looking on at the competitors she had beaten in the Bobbing for Wieners contest at Wiener Dog Day on Sunday afternoon.
Wiener Dog Day is an annual benefit for Dachshund Rescue of North America, and Sunday’s event on the Weaver Street Market lawn brought out a crowd of dachshunds, dachshund owners, dachshund fanciers and interested onlookers despite the damp and chilly weather.
“Thank you for braving the weather,” organizer Pam Stephens said to those on hand. “You are the few, the brave, the dachshund lovers!”
No one took an official count of dachshunds in attendance, and although event volunteer Linda Kapcar said numbers were down compared with other years, Raleigh dachshund owners Giana Malak and John Barnes estimated there were 35 to 40 “pretty easily.”
There were brown wiener dogs and black wiener dogs, tan and a wealth of mixes. There were smooth coats, longhairs and wire-hairs, most sporting jackets against the weather and quite a number dressed for the costume contest.
Brooke Washabaugh from Cary and her dog, Marileau, both came wearing angel wings.
“We just thought we’d get dressed up,” Washabaugh said. “I just call her my angel dog.”
Event’s goal is rescue
Proceeds from Wiener Dog Day go to a fund that pays medical expenses for dachshunds in foster care after being rescued from animal shelters, puppy mills and owners who for one reason or another cannot keep them, Stephens said.
Stephens, the North Carolina representative for Dachshund Rescue, brought along a dachshund she is fostering, Mandy, who wore a coat that said, “I’m available. Adopt me from DNRA.”
A donation jar was out, but most of the fundraising came from raffling off three baskets of dog-related items – rawhide chews, brushless toothpaste, Rescue Remedy (“a natural stress relief”), children’s books with titles such as “10 Little Hot Dogs” and “Pet Trouble: Dachshund Disaster.”
“They are big dogs in a little dog’s body,” said Ana Carla Smith of Durham. She and her husband, Daniel, foster dachshunds through a volunteer network in the Triangle.
“They have lots and lots of personality and they’re very good looking,” Smith said. “Who can look at a dachshund and not smile? They’re sweet – sweet and spunky.”
Stephens, who is a dachshund contact for the Wake County Animal Center, Durham County Animal Protection Society, Orange County Animal Shelter and Wake County SPCA, said the dogs were originally bred to go down into badger dens.
“As you can imagine that makes for a dog with what we call ‘doxie-tude.’ Like many bigger hounds, dachshunds are independent thinkers. ...They are not frou-frou little dogs, but tough little big dog wannabes.”
Hank and Susan Newman heard about Wiener Dog Day and drove up from their home in Pinehurst.
“We came just to look at the wieners,” Hank Newman said. They had dachshunds for 35 years, they said, but because of health issues don’t have dogs any more.
“We’re just crazy about them. I don’t know what to say, we just love them,” Susan Newman said.
The weather had Stephens discouraged when she arrived at Weaver Street Market. Wiener Dog Day has gone on for more than 10 years and never had a rainout, she said, but if no one showed up she had no plan for a rain date.
Parade goes astray
As it turned out, though, the drizzle stopped just after the announced start time of 2 p.m. and held off for more than two hours – plenty of time for all the planned events. When the day ended Dachshund Rescue’s Stephens was pleased with the turnout.
“Did some nice fundraising, I got some people who might consider doing a foster-home application, which I’m excited about,” she said. “We always need foster homes.”
Wiener Dog Day began with a dachshund parade – which quickly became rather disorganized as wiener dogs ducked out of line to sniff shoes or other dogs, and accept petting and attention from fond onlookers.
The costume contest saw a dachshund dressed as a Hawaiian princess, another as a turtle, two in black-and-white striped coats that said “Ruff-eree” on the back, another as a rainbow-colored caterpillar and one as a UNC cheerleader.
The winner was Lochsie, wearing a lion’s mane that matched her tan coat – and slipped down her neck almost every time she moved her head.
“But she knew when the final round came up,” said Lochsie’s owner, Alex Krueger of Carrboro. “She came through in the clutch.”