Dachshunds dominate Denton’s Annual Weenie Dog Race

Dachshunds dominate Denton’s Annual Weenie Dog Race

Dachshunds dominate Denton’s Annual Weenie Dog Race
November 05
17:40 2018

Faces of excited fans line a racetrack sectioned off with hay bales as participants gear up for an intense race. Dogs of all shapes, sizes and speeds are placed in the starting box at one end of the track. After a starting signal, they barrel toward the finish line, ears flopping in the wind to greet their owners.  

Every year, dozens of dogs and dog lovers swarm the D&L Farm and Home Denton location for the Annual Weenie Dog Race, where canines of every breed are allowed to compete in both races and a costume contest.

Jennifer Sanders and her husband purchased their first D&L Farm and Home in 2009. Other stores in the chain had been doing the weenie dog races for years, so Sanders believed they should carry on the tradition in the Denton community.

“It’s a family-owned business,” D&L sales associate Julie Miller said. “We try to really connect with our customers, and I think this is a great way to do it. Everybody seems to have a lot of fun. Plus, cute dogs.”

Participants of the large dog race run to the finish line. Adriance Rhoades

It is difficult to argue with Miller, considering many of the attendees and dogs have been competing in the competition for years. Organizers said this year was their largest event to date, going from around 12 weenie dog sign-ups in 2017 to about 40 this year.

A long-time competitor and winner of this year’s costume contest was Tommy, a Xoloitzcuintli or Mexican hairless dog dressed as a pirate alongside his owner, who was also sporting a pirate outfit. He has won every costume contest to date since the competition was added to the event several years ago. However, Tommy excels in more than just costumes.

“He was a rescue dog,” said Margaret Worth, who works at the Denton County Sheriff Office and Lewisville Animal Services. “I got him at the Fort Worth pound and started out as a foster, but he did so well and attached to me so well that I decided to show him in obedience, rally and fly ball. He’s probably one of the most titled show dogs in the nation. I’ve been showing dogs for about 35 years now. He’s probably my best performance dog.”

While much of the races come down to chance, many of the dogs compete against each other year after year, which has made some of the owners very competitive.

“I think it’s a little bit of both [luck and skill],” Sanders said. “There are some dogs out here that are super competitive. Like El Chappo, [who] won the last heat. He’s been here for three years, and his mom is very competitive. I think she helps him to compete and there are other ones who just get lucky the first time.”

Owners call their dogs from the finish line at the D&L Annual weenie dog race. Adriance Rhoades

Competitor Devon Cooper has raced her dog at the event for the past six years. El Chappo is a fan favorite of the event and is easily recognized by many of the D&L Farm and Home employees. Cooper is competitive in general, but her main concern is the rivalry between El Chappo and his brother Shorty.

“It’s always a stiff competition and we race against his brother Shorty every year,” Cooper said. “It’s the battle of the bloodlines.”

While El Chappo has never won the overall competition, his mom remains hopeful. He won his heat this year but was beaten out in the finals. While Cooper’s heart’s desire is for El Chappo to take home the prize, his motivation seems to lie in a different organ.

“He loves food,” Cooper said. “As long as I’m at the end of the line with food, he’ll trip anybody out of the way to get to me.”

El Chappo is not the only racer motivated by a meal at the finish line. Four-year undefeated champion Dexter, a dachshund, has a similar mindset when it comes to racing.

“He’s not always the nicest, but he is a winner,” Laney Smith said. “I think it’s [the] treats. He’s very gluttonous — he loves any kind of food, so any motivation that’s food he’ll do whatever he can to get it.”

Two dachshunds make their way to the finish line at the D&L Annual Weenie dog race. Adriance Rhoades

Dexter won the overall racing competition for yet another year in a row, beating out not only the other dachshunds but the winners of both the medium and large dog categories, as well in an overall finalist heat.

Smith and Dexter took home a large handmade doghouse this year to add to their collection of trophies, which Smith says decorates their fireplace mantle. While Dexter may be the dog to beat, Smith takes a more relaxed approach to the event.

“We just like to come out here and watch all the other dogs and see if he can win,” Smith said. “It’s really fun. We’re waiting for someone to beat him. Sometimes people recognize him and it’s really funny.”

With so many return visitors, community seems to be a focal point of the competition for both the organizers and attendees.

“I think because it brings the community together, it’s a lot of fun,” Sanders said. “It’s something a family can enjoy together, and everybody loves weenie dogs.”

Featured Image: Dexter the dachshund mix poses with his trophy for grand prize winner of the dachshund race. Adriance Rhoades

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Slade Meadows

Slade Meadows

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