The Running of the Wiener Dogs in Buda, Texas
by Celia Hayes
Let me say up front that we’re still a little unsure of how to pronounce ‘Buda’ – although most of the people that we met there last weekend pronounced it ‘B-yu-dah’, which is fair enough. For those unfamiliar with the geography of South Texas, it is a once fairly independent and separate little community about an hour’s drive north of San Antonio on IH-35, and close enough to Austin that it and the similar little community of Kyle are more or less bedroom slippers to Austin, as Boerne and Bulverde are now bedroom slippers to San Antonio.
We decided to go to support a friend who has a dachshund and who had a vendor booth for his bird feeders and ornamental lanterns, and because the mental vision of galloping wiener dogs was too much cuteness to resist. It seems to have begun as a sort of adjunct to a Lion’s Club hotdog roast fund-raiser, and then someone suggested the notion of racing dachshunds as an attention-getting device. The whole thing took off from there, and now Buda has fully embraced the image of being the Wiener Dog Racing Capital of Texas – well, anything is better than slipping into dull suburban anonymity. The Wiener Dog Races in Buda a have just had their fifteenth run, so I can pretty much say it is now a well-established tradition – as being a very well organized one.
The event itself takes place in a city park in the older part of town, and in order to keep the traffic and parking situation from getting totally out of hand, the Lions’ Club very cleverly set up the parking lot in a huge empty field behind the equally huge Cabela’s outlet, just off the highway, and shuttled people to and fro in school-buses, which seemed to come every five minutes or so. Getting to the festival itself was practically painless, although I did feel for those people who were juggling folding chairs, kid-strollers and a dog or two on leashes. Did I mention that this was a totally dog-friendly event?
Why, certainly it was. Although only dachshunds or mostly-dachshunds can run as contestants in the races, other dogs were totally welcome into the venue itself, and even into many of the shops open on Main Street. I think about a third of the people there had dogs with them, my daughter says no, more like half … but as there were as many attendees who had multiple dogs, so it probably came out pretty much like. And if you didn’t arrive with a dog, there were opportunities offered by various dachshund rescue associations to leave with one, if you were so inclined. Dachshunds are jolly little dogs, friendly for the most part – and they made a fine show in the first heats, too. None of them lost interest half-way down the track, although some owners of fine racing wiener dog stock tell us that the racing is something that they really have to be in the mood for doing.
A lot of the vendors had dog and dog-related items; stuffed sock dogs, metal art featuring wiener-dogs, jewelry … and dog treats, of all kinds. The two creators of OohLaLa Gourmet Dog Treats even went so far as to tell us that their dog treat cookies were so wholesome and good that they could even be eaten by humans. There was one thing that we did notice, though … the whole of that afternoon in Buda, we didn’t see a single cat. I wonder why?