Sunday, September 26, 2010

Off to the Dachshund Races!

It's really autumn. Finally. For days, summer has been refusing to relinquish her hold. We've had 94 degree days and 78 degree nights. Then, suddenly, autumn decided she'd had enough and suddenly the temperature dropped to a pleasant 72 degrees and the nights are chilly enough that a jacket or, at least, a thick cardigan is necessary.

Overnight, the leaves decided to start falling and now there are large piles of dried leaves all over the garden, even though we don't have any trees. They come from our neighbour's sycamore tree. I actually don't mind. I like the leaves because I love autumn and they're a symbol. The puppies love the leaves because diving in the piles gives them great pleasure. They emerge from the piles dripping with dried leaves but a happy wag in their tail.

This weekend was when it turned from summer to fall and it was the perfect time for it to happen. As I mentioned, it was the weekend of the annual Street Fair in my parents' town. It's supposed to be crisp during street fair nights and it was fantastic autumn weather for it on Saturday night.

It was actually my second time at the fair that day. My mother and I went up at lunchtime. I'd decided that I wanted to see what went on at the "Weiner Dog Races" because I happen to own a pair of rather speedy dachshunds who can move like the wind when either a) prey, b) squeaky toy or c) food is being offered to them.
Well, I have to say, the Dachshund races were absolutely hilarious. For one thing, I didn't realize that there were so many dachshunds around and, for another, it's nice to see that my own slightly quirky dogs are actually pretty normal for dachshunds.

They had three different heats- the puppy, the girls and then the boys. The very first race was between two rather small pups. The announcer called "On your marks, get set and go!" and then...
Nothing. The poor pups stood there. Then one of them decided to high tail it out of the little 'track' (which was really just a lightly fenced area in a car park that was probably less than 20 feel long and ten feet wide). That dog did NOT want to race. Fortunately, she was returned to the track and after a period of a few minutes, was finally enticed to her waiting owner at the other end by the offer of treats.

It was my first ever spectatoring of such a sport. In a nutshell, the dogs are taken off their leashes at one end of the little 'track' and held by a friend or owner until the "GO!" is sounded. Then the dachshunds are supposed to race to the opposite end where their owner awaits.

Some of the dachshunds got it. Some of them didn't. There was more than one that, bewildered, blinked and just sat down at the starting line. Others decided to run far away from their owners and make a break for freedom. Then there were the dogs that actually could run and they even ran in the right direction.

My favourite of the dogs was a girl named Pixie. She had a very large fluffy toy of which she was clearly very fond. All her owner had to do was show her the toy before backing up to the finish line and Pixie was ready. She had a very continuous, determined little bark that did not stop until the announcer said "Go" and then she ran for her toy. Her barking was so comical, I just loved her. She came in third, overall, I think.

My other favourite dog whose name I unfortunately can't remember, I called "Doughnut Dog." He was a dachshund whose toy was a large squeaky doughnut. Doughnut Dog was spastic. When he wasn't racing, his owner tried to hold him. Most of the other dogs were placid and quiet and sat quietly either on their leash or in their owner's arms. Not Doughnut Dog. He wriggled, squirmed, whined, yipped and finally yelled. His owner clearly had a very hard time holding his dog. When Doughnut Dog raced, he was a spaz but he was fast. When he and Pixie went head to head, it was a battle of the spazzy dachshunds and it was hilarious to watch.

There were other dachshunds who raced well. The overall winner was Fonzerelli. He was a fast little dappled dog who didn't seem to have quite as much personality as some of the other dogs.

What I did like was hearing the names of the other dogs. The most obvious choice for a dachshund's name for some owners seemed to be based on their colour. There was a Goldie, a Sable, a Brownie and a Suede and various other dogs whose names were very much suited to their names. Then there were the ones whose owners clearly had fun naming their dogs. My favourite was Leder Von Weinerstein. Yes, that was his name. When he showed up to the starting line, he was a tiny little wire-haired dachshund who seemed far less impressive than his name. There was also Reesie Weinut Butter Cup. Nope, didn't make that one up either.
Reesie did well until the finals in which he decided that he was going to switch owners and ran for another dogs treats instead. He didn't place in the top three, sadly.
Overall, it was just a fun thing to watch. Dachshund owners love their dogs and it was pretty clear that there were some other spoiled dogs there who might rival my own. The dogs seemed to have a fun time too even when they were making a break for freedom.
The rest of the fair was a lot of fun. I did get to ride the carousel again this year with my niece and we got to play the games. I also got to ride the ferris wheel with my sister, the newly registered nurse. We thought it'd be fun. Then we went up and got stuck. It looked rather a long way down and we both had a momentary attack of the, "WHAT WERE WE THINKING!" 's. Still, in the end, it turned out to not be that scary and, in fact, was a lovely way to spend a crisp autumn night.

This year, the fair seemed to be much better. I think, maybe, it was just my attitude towards it. I wasn't attempting to try to remember why I'd loved it so much as a youth but, instead, looked at it with my adult eyes and saw that it was a nice way to spend time in a small town on a lovely autumn day/night.

And I got to see dachshunds race. Next year, I think Rory and Sookie might be competers. I think if I managed to get a squirrel or a rabbit for them, they'd win without a doubt. However, I might have to use something a little less alive like, say, cheese.

All in all, the fair was a great way to spend the first official weekend of Autumn. I'm going to keep my eye out for other 'harvest festivals' and that sort of thing. They're just a great way to appreciate the beauty of fall now that she's finally here.

Happy Monday!

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