Archive for Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Speedy dog

Tonganoxie dachshund — named Moose — world’s fastest wiener-dog

August 31, 2005

Moose could smell victory.

He was neck and neck with two other dachshunds as the finish line drew near.

Bam! The two dogs collided.

Staying focused on finding his owner, Moose crossed the finish line into her arms.

"The announcer said 'he had a clean, fair race. He didn't crash with anyone,'" Aubrey Mikijanis, owner and Tonganoxie native, said laughing.

Moose, a 12-pound shorthaired miniature dachshund, now represents Tonganoxie as the world's fastest wiener-dog.

On July 29, Moose won the 12th annual Wiener-dog National Championship race, winning in 13.14 seconds at the Woodlands dog track in Kansas City, Kan.

Luck of the draw

A dachshund doesn't have to be top dog to qualify for the annual Woodlands race. He just has to have a bit of a lucky paw.

Each hopeful participant sends an application to the Woodlands about five months before the race. Out of hundreds of applications, 64 are selected at random.

Mikijanis applied last year, but wasn't selected. This year was a different story.

"I was surprised, really surprised," she said. "I know one of our friends has been trying for four years. It's just really lucky to get in it."

She said she hoped to participate again next year.

"I just think it was really cute all the dog lovers there who are just crazy about their animals," she said. "There were people fanning their dogs. They're just like us. They think they're our children, and just how proud they were when they finished the race."

Participants came from all over the Midwest, including Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas.

Bacon

Moose loves bacon, Mikijanis said. So naturally that was the meat of choice during training, which wasn't too difficult, she said.

"He's a smart one," Mikijanis said of Moose.

Mikijanis began training Moose about four months ago when she received the acceptance letter from the Woodlands. For conditioning, Moose was walked two miles for five days per week with Grizz, his training partner, and younger brother -- by one month. Grizz is a 2-year-old longhaired dachshund.

Mikijanis and her fiance, Casey Buerman, of McLouth, then took Moose to the Oskaloosa High School football field. Mikijanis' twin sister, Ashley, also helped train Moose.

"He loves bacon so we would just yell 'bacon,'" Mikijanis said.

And off Moose ran, 100 yards down the field. He received a treat when he reached the opposite end.

The race

Mikijanis said the speed of some of Moose's competitors shocked her. She said she thought Moose would have had an easy win over some of the other dachshunds.

"The big, fat ones were really fast dogs," she said laughing.

The competition was broken into two races. The first race consisted of all 64 dogs divided into eight heats of eight dogs each. The winner of each heat then competed for the championship.

Mikijanis said she didn't think Moose was going make it out of his heat. He had to race two dogs that placed in top four overall last year.

"We were shocked," she said.

But not everyone doubted the 2-year-old Moose. The announcer picked Moose to win the championship and gave him 2-1 odds. The dogs ran 110 yards alongside their owners. Buerman ran with Moose because he was too quick for Mikijanis.

Better than a belly rub

Since winning, Moose has grabbed a lot of gifts -- and attention.

He won a giant trophy, a cape, a ribbon, a cage, a year's worth of free food, toys, treats and shampoo. Sponsors included Dressler's Dog Supply and Varsity Sports and Trophy, Kansas City, Kan.

Each of the eight dogs in the championship race received a ribbon and trophy.

"He just loves the attention he gets," Mikijanis said.

In fact, it took her and Buerman 40 minutes to get out of the stadium because everyone wanted to see Moose, she said.

"It was really cute. When we were leaving all the little kids said, 'I want a dog like him,'" Mikijanis said.

Moose's picture was shown on a Kansas City news station. His picture will go in the Oskaloosa newspaper. And visitors from a small Texas town also took Moose's picture and will place it in their town's newspaper, Mikijanis said. Grizz, however, is a little jealous of Moose's 13.14 seconds of fame.

He even had to stay home on his second birthday while Moose raced. Only the canine participants were allowed to enter the stadium, Mikijanis said.

"He wasn't too happy," she said of the birthday pooch.

But no one will doubt Moose is getting a big head on his little body.

"You put his winning cape on and he starts wagging his tail," Mikijanis said. "He knows he did something good. He knew he was getting an awful lot of attention."

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