The only things moving faster than beer and bratwurst at Spokane Oktoberfest Sunday afternoon were the 18 dachshunds who raced down a makeshift track outside the CenterPlace Regional Event Center.
Normally the outdoor event sees 60 or more dogs entered, but occasional rain and snow, plus temperatures in the upper 30s, sent some little wieners home and forced the race under a tent.
“But the show must go on,” said Margo Mossburg, the director of Dachshund Rescue NW.
Mossburg said she has organized the Dachshund race each of the past five years since Spokane Oktoberfest started. Last year she raised about $500 over the course of the weekend.
For $5, dachshund owners entered their pups for a chance to win gift cards, pet items and T-shirts. All of the proceeds went to Mossburg and Dachshund Rescue NW.
Mossburg started the dog rescue on her farm northwest of Spokane in 1991 when she realized Dachshunds were being put down at local shelters for digging and barking.
The German breed, which translates to “badger dog,” was bred to have short legs for going underground to chase badgers and wolverines.
“The shelters don’t realize these are hunting dogs,” Mossburg said.
Dachshund Rescue NW has placed nearly 2,200 rescued Dachshunds in homes over the last 28 years and about 100 dogs so far in 2019. Mossburg can host eight dogs at a time.
Despite the cold weather and lower turnout than usual, Mossburg said she was happy to get to promote her rescue operation and support the Oktoberfest event.
“We do it because it’s fun,” she said.
About 200 people gathered to watch Rudy the Dachshund defend last year’s championship title.
His owner, Nick Gutzwiler of Cheney, crouched at the finish line squeezing a faceless rubber chicken that he only brings out on wiener dog race day.
“He loves his chicken,” Gutzwiler said.
Rudy was top dog again after outrunning three other dachshunds.
Eddie, a 13-year-old dachshund, won the senior wiener dog race for the third year in a row.
His owner, Dalene Szember of Spokane Valley, adopted Eddie from Dachshund Rescue NW three years ago. She adopted her first wiener dog, Ralph, from the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service about two years prior after owning Basset Hounds for many years.
“We thought it would be easier to take a miniature basset hound traveling with us,” she said. “We just fell in love with them.”
All of the adoption fees at Dachshund Rescue NW go toward vet bills and other rescue costs for new dogs, Mossburg said. She also takes donated pet items that she resells to offset some costs.
“We’re like the Goodwill of the wiener world,” Mossburg said. “I pay it forward to help the next dog.”
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.