Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Owners released their dogs during the National Wiener Dog Finals on Saturday at Headwaters Park.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette The National Wiener Dog Finals take place during Germanfest at Headwaters Park on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette The National Wiener Dog Finals take place during Germanfest at Headwaters Park on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette The National Wiener Dog Finals take place during Germanfest at Headwaters Park on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette The National Wiener Dog Finals take place during Germanfest at Headwaters Park on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette The National Wiener Dog Finals take place during Germanfest at Headwaters Park on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette The National Wiener Dog Finals take place during Germanfest at Headwaters Park on Saturday.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette A pair of dogs sprint down the 50-foot track to the finish line Saturday afternoon.

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette The National Wiener Dog Finals take place during Germanfest at Headwaters Park on Saturday.

Sunday, June 09, 2019 1:00 am

Wiener dog races delight crowds at Germanfest

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Jeremy and Audra Mohler developed a strategy for their puppy, Cooper, to win the ever-popular wiener dog race at Germanfest this year.

“We've been fetching really hard, practicing our fetching,” Audra Mohler said about a half-hour before Cooper, rebranded Mini-Coop for the races Saturday at Headwaters Park, was about to try for glory on the 50-foot grassy track.

Disappointing for his owners, Mini-Coop didn't win the first race, but the squiggly 7-month-old “chocolate and tan dapple” short-haired dachshund squirming in Jeremy's arms looked as though he had enough energy to race all day.

Mini-Coop was one of 82 dogs registered for the popular races held every year at Germanfest. People watched from bleachers or at a wall overlooking the races.

Germanfest wraps up today with a church service in the main tent at 11 a.m., a concert by the student accordion orchestra from Gera, Germany, Fort Wayne's sister city, at 11:45 a.m. and the 18th annual Germanfest Bake-off at 10:30 a.m.

More information is available at www.germanfest.org.

Capt. Nancy Fritz, the National Wiener Dog Finals organizer, said this year was a first for prizes. Registration is free.

“It's a family fun event,” Fritz said. Prizes included a Miller Lite cooler and a coupon for service at Paw's-n-Claw's Pet Care Palace.

Fritz wasn't sure how many years the races had been run at Germanfest, but Jim Sack, Germanfest founder, said the race was added about 10 years after the festival's 1981 beginnings.

“The wiener dog race is a Headwaters Park phenomenon,” said Sack, who was working in the administration of former Mayor Win Moses when it was founded.

Kaitlan O'Connor and husband, Andrew, watched the spectacle from the bleachers. Kaitlan O'Connor said she'd been rooting for a dachshund named Stella.

“We come every year we can,” she said. Besides the wiener dog races, she said she loves the atmosphere and the “great sense of community.

“It's fun to see people you don't know come together for something positive and fun,” she added.

Mini-Coop still trailed after his second run. Audra stood down at the other end of the race lane, holding a dirty sock, something that Cooper loves, she said.

Jeremy gave Mini-Coop a smooch on the head and carefully put him down at the start of the track. He took off all right, but a few feet in, stopped to get his bearings.

While he paused, Daisy Lynn shot past him and didn't take a break until she passed the finish line.

It will be back to the fetching until this time next year for the pup.

jduffy@jg.net