The Fast and The Furriest: Annual wiener dog race returns in Mount Pearl

Owners let go of their wiener dogs as the race begins.  Even though three of the four dogs are moving so fast that they are a blur, one wiener has decided not to run and is instead staring into the camera.
The race has just begun for these dachshunds. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC News)

Over 40 pet owners proudly gathered for the 11th annual Wiener Dog Races at the NL Pet Expo in Mount Pearl this weekend.

“People will train,” said Tanya Martin, founder of Dachshunds of Newfoundland and Labrador and an organizer of the race. “People wanna win. Nobody likes losing.”

This year, 43 dachshunds competed in the races.

“They’re in preassigned heats based on their age,” said Martin. “The winner of each heat goes on to compete in the championship.”

All dogs go home with medals, but the big winners receive trophies and prize packs from exhibitors at the Glacier Arena expo. According to Martin, the prizes are valued at around $2000 and many of the racers are seasoned pros.

“There’s actually one dog here that’s coming back for his 10th year,” Martin said. “He’s actually a senior now, he’s 12½-years-old and so he gets to race with the puppies, just because he’s a little bit older and the puppies probably won’t know where to go, so he’ll show them.”

A woman poses with an old-looking dog on top of a colorful mat in what appears to be a warehouse.
Tanya Martin is the founder of Dachshunds of Newfoundland and Labrador and is pictured here with Archie, who participated in the races. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC News)

With over 2000 wiener dogs in the province, Martin said Dachshunds of Newfoundland and Labrador continue to grow every year.

“We’re a local group and really the foundation of our group is to support responsible ownership and breeders,” Martin said. “It’s not even a group, it’s more of a community.”

Martin said the dachshund owners like to help each other and the community at large.

“If one of the dogs in the group needs help just financially because of back issues, we usually come together and help each other out,” Martin said. “Our group has given over $30,000 to the Janeway Telethon in the last several years.”

A slightly blurry photo showcases 8 wiener dogs racing across a colorful mat.
The audience cheers as the wiener dogs race slightly faster than the camera can capture. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC News)

Groups like Martin’s are just one of the many features at the Pet Expo.

“This is actually our 15th year running the NL Pet Expo and it’s been a huge success so far,” said Sheila Lewis, the president of Beagle Paws and coordinator of the expo.

Lewis said the expo was Beagle Paws’ biggest fundraiser of the year, raking in around $20,000 for the group in previous years. She says all of that money goes back to the dogs.

“The biggest expense for us is veterinary care because we do take in hundreds of beagles throughout the year,” Lewis said. “We vaccinate and spay all the dogs that come in and provide the vet care, we have a shelter that we operate.”

As well, expenses for Beagle Paws have gone up since the pandemic as more people are deciding they no longer want their pets.

“We’ve gotten a lot of owners surrendering pets, beagles that were adopted, especially through COVID times and everybody’s lifestyle was different during COVID . But now we’re getting back to our normal way of life. We’re getting dogs that don ‘t do so well-being left alone and have developed separation anxiety.”

A woman smiles in front of a booth with a 'Beagle Paws' sign, selling Beagle Paws branded t-shirts.
Sheila Lewis, president of Beagle Paws Rescue, says the NL Pet Expo is their biggest fundraiser of the year (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC News)

Lewis said that’s another reason why the Pet Expo is so important.

“It’s an opportunity for people to come out and see if they’re interested in getting a pet, what’s in the city, what’s there that they can call on, and different breeders and organizations if they want to rescue. We have it all here .”

As well, the event is a fun opportunity for pet owners, who are allowed to bring their furry companions with them to the event.

“They appreciate that it’s something they can come out and do with their pets,” Lewis said. “It brings in a huge crowd of people and it’s so much fun.”

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