Monday, Oct. 26, 2009 | midnight
The sounds of yapping, both human and canine, filled the aptly named Barkin’ Basin dog park Saturday as Hallowiener brought together dachshund enthusiasts for a day of healthy competition, camaraderie and charity.
Beyond the Sun
From shorthaired puppies so skinny they resembled miniature greyhounds to fat long-haired dogs whose bellies rubbed against the grass, the dog park was filled with dachshunds of all sizes, colors and mixes. The four-legged companions competed in costume, kissing and belly-rubbing competitions for ribbons and prizes from sponsors, which included 100.5 Jack FM and Healthy Tails. Many of the vertically challenged dogs also raced down a track in Hallowiener’s most popular event: wiener races.
The annual event, in its sixth installment this year, is a fundraiser event for the local group Hot-Diggity Dachshund Club and Rescue. Originally begun as a meet-up group for fanatics of the German breed, the club became a non-profit 501(c)3 organization in 2008 after seeing a need for a dachshund-specific animal rescue organization in the valley.
Organizers estimated that more than 550 people attended the event last year and raised more than $3,000 for the charity through entry fees, contest fees, raffles and silent auctions. According to rescue coordinator Barbara Yumant, this year’s numbers exceeded last year’s.
Yumant wouldn’t estimate how many dachshunds attended the event throughout the day, but she was quick to point out one attendee: Rosie.
Sporting a bright green bandana reading “Adopt Me,” the grey wirehaired dachshund mix is one of several adoptable dogs Hot-Diggity Dachshund Club and Rescue is currently seeking a home for. While the organization does not perform on-site adoptions, Yumant hopes that seeing Rosie trot around the adoption pen will entice someone into starting the adoption process.
The adoption procedure includes a background check, as well as a home inspection. Many factors are taken into consideration, including some things that many families don’t think about – such as whether the adopter’s home is two stories. Dachshund’s long backs make the breed prone to spine problems, making climbing a flight of stairs difficult.
Yumant says the concept of conducting a home inspection is simple, “I tell anyone doing a home inspection to think about it as if it’s their own dog. Would you feel comfortable enough to leave your own dog there? If not, then it’s not right.”
The careful considerations behind the placement of dogs may be a contributing factor to the organization’s zero percent return rate. Contracts on adopted dogs require the families to return the dog to Hot-Diggity Dachshund Club and Rescue if feelings change or a situation arises in which the dog must be given up.
So far this year, 15 dachshunds have found permanent homes through the organization. Still, there’s more work to be done.
Nevada having the highest foreclosure rate in the country isn’t helping. More and more pets are being abandoned by families in crisis, Yumant says, making organizations like the Hot-Diggity Dachshund Club and Rescue that much more important.
However, with no permanent shelter to place animals and a limited number of willing foster homes, running the rescue organization can be taxing. Yumant says nights where she and club president Leilani Ehlers have eight to 12 dachshunds at their each of their homes is common.
Yumant says that the time, effort and sacrifices required to take care of the foster dachshunds doesn’t outweigh the benefits. She adds, “When you find the perfect home for a rescue dog, it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world.”
Mika Beck knows that feeling better than most.
The Hallowiener attendee rescued her dachshund Coco from Lied Animal Shelter four years ago. The one-eyed pooch had been turned into the shelter twice and was facing euthanasia before Beck and her husband intervened. They adopted Coco, estimated to be around seven years old, and never looked back.
A longtime enthusiast of the breed, Beck says her earliest memories are sitting at her grandmother’s house with dachshund puppies. Now, Beck makes the most of her dog’s disfigurement, creating a homemade Halloween costume: a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater.
“We wanted something that went with her one eye,” Beck says. “We figured a pirate was too easy.”
The original outfit scored Coco a win in the scariest costume category during Hallowiener’s costume contest. Other winners included a homemade “wiener bot” costume for most creative, a pair of bananas for cutest couple and a ‘70s Elvis complete with full-body jumpsuit and wig for best in show.
Beck says winning was a pleasant surprise, adding, “(Coco) can’t race, but she still won something.”
This year was Beck’s first time at the annual event. Beck says she’ll return next year. She says Coco will, too – maybe as a zombie.