The racers took their marks at the starting gate as a wave of silence fell across the crowd. Breathless seconds crept by until the starting bell sounded and the racers burst forth from their starting positions and bounded down the track, their 2-inch legs digging into the dirt.
Amidst a constant barrage of “aww,” the crowd shouted things like, “Oh my gosh, they’re so adorable,” and “Look at their tiny little legs.”
The 19th annual Kent and Alan Wiener Dog Races took place at Emerald Downs, July 12. The event was put on by Seattle-based radio station Star 101.5 in partnership with the track and it featured 24 purebred dachshunds that participated in two qualifying heats and culminated in a third and final race to determine the top winner, or wiener, an honor that went to Kirby of Granite Falls.
“Typically our winners are always coming back and getting recycled,” said Jen Pirak of Star 101.5. “This year’s winner came from out of nowhere and knocked the other’s out of the way.”
Even though the large wiener dog-topped trophy and other prizes went to Kirby, the show was dominated by the dachshund known as Anderson Pooper from Mountlake Terrace.
Pooper arrived at Emerald Downs with her family in a stylish doggie stroller pushed by her family, Dave and Brenda Sizer. As race time approached, she was strapped with a GoPro and placed in her miniature wheelchair designed to help her run despite paralysis in her hind legs. Pooper slowly made her way to the finish line, finishing last in her heat as the crowd erupted into applause.
“Anderson Pooper got into the race because she was one of the winners of the main drawing we had,” Pirak said. “She was definitely a crowd favorite because she was the underdog.”
In addition to the races there were bounce houses, face painting, cupcakes from New York Cupcake, and other family-friendly activities. The audience was packed with families and racing enthusiasts alike, but according to Vince Bruun, Emerald Downs Media Relations, the scales tipped more toward families for this particular event than most other matches at the track.
“We do market our facility to families much more than normal for tracks do, but even for us there was an unusually high amount of families present for this year’s wiener dog race,” he said. “I guess the wiener dogs just bring families out.”
Bruun says the greatest benefit of hosting the event at the track is the increased foot traffic that can inspire more people to come to the track of a regular basis.
“The great thing about an event like this is it brings out many people who wouldn’t normally come out to our facility,” he said. “It’s a different kind of crowd, they might not wager as much or be as familiar as our regulars, but anytime you expose people to something new it’s a great thing.”
2015 Wiener Dog Line Up:
Otto (2014 winner), Roy and Kathy Edick, Lake Tapps
Maxx Throttle (second in 2014), Gretchen Howell, Lake Stevens
Dottie, Sara Beck and Ben Ice, Seattle
Smallz, Anjel David and Kris Nelson, Seattle
Zella, Becky Streich and RJ Hamm, Seattle
Annie, Cassie Hanek, Seattle
Max, Josh and Sheila Hardman, Graham
Cayenne Lil Bit-O-Luv, Karen Heesacker, Federal Way
Anderson Pooper, Brenda Sizer, Mountlake Terrace
Charlie Brown, Christine Hoffman, Auburn
Ben Norman, Norman Howell, Lake Stevens
Kalia Kauweloa, Frank and Linda Kauweloa, Issaquah
Kirby LaCoursiere, Dave LaCoursiere, Granite Falls
Archie LaCoursiere, Jeanette LaCoursiere, Granite Falls
Lundi, Tony Laruffa, West Seattle
Minnie, Kim and Larry McKinney, Kirkland
Winston, Amy and Joel Roswall, Kirkland
Wiener Dan, Cindy Rowe, Rainier
Tiki, Kyle Davis, Kent
Skipper, Gayle & Emmet Williams, Fall City
Kandi, Andy Taylor, Orting
Shultz Von Woofer (fan favorite), Erika Heller, Bow
Willie Nelson (2015 rally first place), Christi Betz, Everett
Penny Lane (2015 rally first place), Maggie Schmidt, Stanwood
Peanut (first alternate), Tricia Horstman, Pacific
Tigger (second alternate), Courtney Brunner, Federal Way
Anderson Pooper Video posted by owner, Dave Sizer: