The athletes had been training for weeks (some for months). There were practice runs, pep talks, special diets, even special clothing designed for speed. As with any competition, preparation, desire, opportunity, skill and luck is what separates the winners from the losers. Everyone knew the competition was going to be fierce. after all, this is the wiener nationals and a record number of the four-legged athletes had registered, and they were all looking to be in the finals.
The day started as the sun came up and the track was made ready for these dashing dachshunds. Dogs and owners began arriving, some dressed to the nines, others fortunate that there was not a dress code. The competitors were sizing each other up with some trying the “I want to be your friend” approach while others were trash barking to intimidate the meek and mild. One thing was clear—it was a very hot day and everyone was ready to race. As the announcer began calling the racers to their positions to begin the time trials to see who would qualify for the finals, dog treats, squeaky toys and the ever familiar whistle gathered at the finish line to urge the runners to victory (or at least a fast enough time to qualify). Doxies were set in their starting box and race after race began with approximately six competitors in each heat. With ears flying and some flopping, over 300 dachshunds dashed for glory with only 16 making it to the finals. I had prepped my two mini-racers to be in top condition and ready to run. As the starter called for dogs in the starting gate (box), I could feel their adrenaline and knew they were ready. As the gate opened, Lexi (our female) started her dash to victory. Leo slowly edged out of the gate and made his way half way down the track, then took a hard right and escaped under the barrier into the adoring crowd. Lexi went on to win her heat, but her time was not fast enough to qualify for the finals. As the temperature hit close to 90 degrees, we packed up our athletes and reminded them that it’s not whether you win or lose, but that you competed to the best of your ability.