For the Love of the Game

Last Saturday, dachshund lovers all over Southern California panted with excitement as the annual Wiener Nationals dachshund race and Seal Beach Animal Care Center fund-raiser geared up for its 11th year.

Now, the dachshund might not have quite the athletic gravitas of some of your larger fighting dogs. (Overheard at the race: "I was walking my dachshund puppy and this guy in an Escalade rolled up and yelled, 'You're a faggot with that dog.'") But ask any possum that has wound up in the path of a dachshund—and subsequently found itself inside a dachshund's mouth—and he'll tell you these dogs don't mess around when they're in their element. There's nothing a dachshund likes more than a good athletic competition—except perhaps a Kong toy filled with peanut butter—and while greyhounds generally enjoy a reputation as the bullet trains of the canine kingdom, the dachshunds' Germanic temperament makes them the perfect race dogs. Up at precisely 6 in the morning for calisthenics, break by 6:45 for some Snausages and an energy drink, and then time trials for the rest of the morning.

After attending the race, I can confidently state that you simply have not lived until you've seen 10 dachshunds loaded into racing chutes and then released in synchronicity. Of course, the real action was at the starting gates, where the dogs who refused to embrace the Man's concept of a linear race milled about, drunk on freedom and the pungent odor of their brethren, while their owners frantically tried to communicate to them the life-and-death importance of the competition. But what's a $2,200 purse mean to a dog when there is soft dirt and green grass and sunshine to be exploited? And perhaps the French soccer team can take an example from these noble animals: Who won? Who cares? Despite their defeat, these dogs understand that it's an honor to even make it to the nationals, and—barring the official elimination of finish-line tummy rubs—nothing can take away their love of the sport.


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