Small dogs, big hearts and a fantastic day for all in Tampa, Florida
(Note: Full Photo-Feature at end of article)
The very first feature I ever wrote for Bad Azz Dogz was about the Florida Wiener Dog Derby (FWDDA) Tampa event. So it was with more than a little nostalgia to return to Tampa for the 2019 Florida Wiener Dog Derby X and after all, what more fun way to spend a Saturday in Tampa than watching pint sized pups racing with the determination of a sight-hound?
Dachshunds may be small of stature, but were actually bred to flush out one of the earth most ferocious beats. Badgers. They were also employed in hunting rabbit and other smaller ground game. Though today, most live leisurely lives and this may be the most exertion a few have all year.
From a swinging gate, six of these track warriors at a time would race the fifty-foot stretch. Divided by divisions of age and special divisions for non-breed small dogs and special needs dogs, over 160 competitors and their bi-peds rose to the occasion this year.
In front of a crowd of 15,000 visitors to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for the Tampa Riverfest. Pups and people of every color, age and background enjoyed a hot early Summer day, but the action on the track was even hotter with the “Pups” (age under 2) division being the largest of the day.
It’s not a club sport but a community
There are not “Wiener Racing Clubs” as you may find for Sight-hounds, or Hunting Dogs, etc. Instead this sport if a scattered but strongly bound community of fans of both these fierce and fearless dogs and the sport.
The Florida Wiener Dog Derby (FWDDA) was originally created by its first president and founder Doug Daily and officially recognized in 2015, though it had been running ever larger events since 2009. Now, in 2019, the Florida Wiener Dog Derby has been added to the National Dachshund Races circuit.
Now it’s tenth year as a major attraction of the Tampa Riverfest, the organization continues to gain steam and teams from around the country. Today was no exception and even included internet celebrity pups from other states.
If you are not having fun? You are doing it wrong.
The entertainment value is beyond question, but most enjoyable beyond the happy pups, were the number of children of all ages with smiles and laughter cheering the pups on during every race. Unlike most competition today, the Wiener Dog races are never taken so seriously, they intimidate some.
That’s not to say there are not some serious competitors and multi-time champions. However, no one gets bent out of shape over the wind blowing or a child too making too much noise. It is all great fun for all.
Once the dogs are loaded and safely positioned in to “box” they are released to run to a “catcher” fifty-five feet away. Usually an owner or close familiar. However, this is not professional racing and the pups don’t always know that was the point.
Dachshunds do more than race
I spoke with the current FWDD president Karin “Roxie” Lejeune about the derby and its goals this year. With half a dozen events scheduled across the state and new sponsors coming on, the future of Wiener Dog Racing in Florida looks to just beginning.
The Dogs require no formal pre-training or club membership and can be registered on the official FWDD website or even on site for most events.
Additional games are part of the events. From “Peanut Butter Eating Contests” to “Best Nose”, Best Tail” and more. There are also special prizes for games like “Speed Trap” for fastest time. With a variety of games and open track divisions for other small breeds and dogs with disabilities, the FWDD looks to provide a host of activities for all.
For those with special needs or disabilities.
The race requires the dogs be released from a box like a miniature Greyhound race, but also requires someone at the other end to retrieve and usually encourage the dog forward. It is possible to load your dog and ask for time to go to the other end of the track and if special accommodations are needed, it seems that every effort will be made to help reasonable requests.
I visit many dog sports and many dog events. The Wiener Dog Derby combines both, but importantly, combines the very best of both and if you attend this year you will hopefully find yourself rejuvenated as your worries fade away and a smile can appear on the most cynical face.
These pups have no agendas, no egos, no rules of conduct. They just want to play and its even more fun if you come too!
Check out the links at the end of this feature for more informaion, but first see our Photo-Feature and lighten your day right now.
“Diz game is certified Bad Azz! ” - Bristol, Bad Azz Dogz
2019 Florida Wiener Dog Derby X Tampa Riverfest Tampa, FL
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