Remy, a 3-year-old dachshund, was well on his way to winning the first round of the Wiener Dog Nationals Saturday afternoon.
While some dogs trembled or looked dazed at the starting line, Remy was an intimidating force, barking constantly and lurching forward in his handlers hands, itching to get to the finish.
To earn his place in the championship round, Remy, short for Remington, had to go up against Franky – a confident, cool competitor. On the count of three they were off, charging toward their fans at the finish line.
Remy won by just a hair, and was swept up by his owner, 22-year-old Cassandra Kipker.
Hes a feisty one, said Kipker, who was one of several Remy fans wearing bright yellow Remington Racing shirts. Hes rotten. But he does OK when he doesnt get distracted by the girls.
Remy persevered during the next few rounds, beating out 100 other dachshunds to win the 19th annual Wiener Dog Nationals during Germanfest at Headwaters Park. He won a $250 gift card for Uncle Bills, $50 for a photo shoot at Paw Prints Pet Photography and one month free service from Poop Happens, a pet waste removal service, among other prizes. Dogs who placed second and third also received prizes.
Owners tried every trick in the book to get their dachshunds to cross the finish line. Some clapped and called to their dogs; others waved stuffed animals or favorite treats. The contest drew veterans, like Remy, and novices as well.
Bella, a 2-year-old dachshund, tried her first race Saturday. And it didnt go well.
When the announcer yelled Go, Bella looked up at her owner, who had just released her. She stood still for a while, then took a few steps toward the finish line. But just as she neared it, she turned around again and starting trotting the other way.
I think the pressure got to her, said owner Scott Krafft, 53. Shes never performed in front of people before.
His wife, Bev, added, She just wasnt focused today. And we didnt practice.
Jason Warne, a 23-year-old spectator, recently moved to Fort Wayne from Valparaiso. When he heard about the contest, he said he couldnt miss it.
I love it. Its an interesting bit of culture, he said. I didnt think I liked dachshunds, but some of them are pretty cute. For having short little legs, they move pretty good.