BRISTOL — Renee Hamulak of Shelton lifted her dachshund named Belle up to her chest in sheer joy. Belle most certainly didn't win the race in which she was running.
Among a heat of about five stubbed legged contenders, Belle finished … well, it doesn't really matter. “It took her six tries but she crossed finally,” Hamulak said.
For the past few years Hamulak has joined the state’s dachshund lovers at the 6th annual “Wiener Dog 100” held at Lake Compounce amusement park on Saturday.
“She likes spending the day at the park. She gets all excited when she sees all the kids,” Hamulak said.
About 100 dogs signed up and clad in pink kerchiefs — the sponsor was Pink’s hot dog stand — they were divided in different categories. Humans and canines were all excited to be there — the cuteness of the whole thing defeats description. The park was at a standstill while the races were in session.
“It's a feel good event. You come to Lake Compounce with your family and this lets you bring your furry family,” said Amy Thomas, director of marketing for the park.
The event also supported Connecticut Dachshund Rescue and Pet Services of Killingworth, a dog rescue organization. “The breed really identifies with each other,” said Eliot Jordan, a representative from the group.
‘Backwards and sideways’
The race was a serious proposition. The dogs, held by their owners, line up. After a count of 1,2,3, then go, the owners let them go and then, theoretically, the dogs race about 25 feet to the end of the course.
A few go-getting dogs race to the other side. A few others meander around the starting line. Still others get a really good start, but wait, over here there is this interesting smell, so I am going to head on off the track.
“He goes backwards and sideways,” East Haven resident Gina Thomas said of her 10-year-old dog Spencer. “He goes for the nearest bush or the most interesting smell.”
The canny owners bring nice treats or toys to entice their stubby athletes to the other side of the track. One enterprising owner had a hot dog covered in bacon waiting at the other end, something that could certainly entice this reporter to finish a road race.
Trumbull resident Stephanie Plumeau entered four wiener dogs into the festivities — Luna, Titan, Jager and Cody. She and her friends came clad in gray t-shirts with pink lettering with the dogs’ names and entry numbers.
“I just love them. They are so adorable,” said Plumeau, who volunteered in an animal shelter as a kid and was so taken with the wiener dogs that the minute she was old enough she got one.
Last year Luna won her heat, but Cody found himself disqualified by not making it all the way over the line. “We try to get them a little bit in shape. Jager had to lose a couple of pounds to come here,” Plumeau said.
Manny Martinez of Bridgeport had his dog Toi in the final heat. Toi and her fellow wiener dog friend Teeniy were the fashion plates of the race, arriving in a small replica of the iconic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Teeniy wore a lovely polka dot blue dress.
Toi, after his race, wore a striped shirt with green trim and a smart blue hat emblazoned with bones. He was sitting pretty. “He’s won it a couple of times. He just likes to run,” said Martinez, who noted that one of the wins came after back surgery.
The final race between Toi and two opponents, Flash and Ruby, came down to an extremely close finish, probably by a nose, so to speak.
“Heads are huddled. Video is being reviewed. It took them 22 minutes at the (Kentucky) Derby, so we are still ahead of the game,” STAR 99.9 radio personality Jay Raven told the crowd.
When the dust cleared, Flash was the winner. Toi was third in the race, but if there was an award for best ensemble, he’d have won hands down.
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢