Dachshunds have their special day at Wienerfest

Not all the dachshunds were lapdogs, according to Susanne Hamilton of Montville, who brought her pet to the 7th Annual Belfast Wienerfest. These wirehaired dachshunds were bred to be hunters and trackers, and can run for miles in the woods to find wounded deer, she said. (Bangor Daily News/Abigail Curtis)
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Not all the dachshunds were lapdogs, according to Susanne Hamilton of Montville, who brought her pet to the 7th Annual Belfast Wienerfest. These wirehaired dachshunds were bred to be hunters and trackers, and can run for miles in the woods to find wounded deer, she said. (Bangor Daily News/Abigail Curtis)
Posted Sept. 12, 2010, at 11:02 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — If it’s true that every dog has its day, Sunday belonged to the dachshunds.

Organizers estimated that a couple of hundred people — and many, many of the short-legged, stretched-out dogs — frolicked at the seventh annual Belfast Wienerfest held at Steamboat Landing Park.

There the dogs raced together, competed in a costume contest and even listened to a special story time.

“Where else are you going to see this many dachshunds in one place?” asked Emily Muise of Trenton, who brought Tracker and Simba with her. “It’s nice to get them here so they can see they’re not the only tiny dogs around.”

The Wienerfest began after organizer Diane Wood purchased her first dachshund and then watched a “CBS Good Morning” report on a picnic for the little dogs in Texas.

“I said, ‘I can do that,’” she recalled. “And we did it. It’s a huge amount of fun.”

Volunteers from Friends of Belfast Parks helped to make this year’s event run smoothly, Wood said, and proceeds will benefit the Belfast Dog Park.

While most of the elongated dogs scampered about at grass level, greeting each other and chasing balls, others had different means of locomotion.

Lady, 12, sat proudly in a baby’s stroller.

“Some days, she prefers to just ride,” said Trent Chandler of Augusta.

Simba, Emily and Leroy Muise’s dog, has problems using his back legs after he was injured in a car accident when he was a puppy. He now energetically pulls himself along in a cart.

“He hasn’t much known anything different,” Emily Muise said. “Without the cart, he would just be dragging himself around. … Dogs get used to it fairly quickly.”

Though cute, the little dogs are much more than that, emphasized Susanne Hamilton of Montville. Her wire-haired dachshund, Buster, is a certified blood tracking dog. During hunting season, he works hard helping hunters track wounded deer.

The breed was developed to track and hunt, she said, and the dogs will run five miles through the woods once they catch the scent.

“They have amazing noses,” she said.

Sofie, 3, of Belfast looked like she was more a party dog than a working dog. She was dressed to the nines in a plaid kilt and a white top, ready for the costume judging contest.

“My husband and I are very involved in the Celtic festival,” said Diane Braybrook of Belfast. “We tried to sneak Sofie into the Celtic dog festival but she was found out. I told her, ‘Your day is coming.’”

JoAnn and Lewis Burgess of Lincoln were old hands at Wienerfest, having attended for four years.

“We love it,” JoAnn Burgess said while showing off her mini black and tan rescue dachshund, Little Bit. “Just seeing all the colors and shapes and sizes, and how much fun they all have.”

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