WHEATON – Just two weeks after the illustrious pageantry of the Kentucky Derby horse race, Wheaton residents will see a different breed of competition: dachsund races.
At the fifth annual Cross Town Bark Around fundraiser at 10 a.m. May 18, dachshund owners, enthusiasts and, of course, the “doxies” themselves will converge on the DuPage County Fairgrounds by the hundreds to raise money and awareness for the MidWest Dachshund Rescue, a non-profit foster program for wiener dogs.
Lori Biesboer, the president of the MWDR, said that the non-profit relies solely on volunteers for its foster programs and that the Bark Around helps cover the veterinary costs for the rescue group.
“The first day they come into our organization, we make sure that they are up to date on all vetting, then we send them to a foster home,” Biesboer said.
In 2012, the organization took in 252 dachshunds.
Biesboer said that the MWDR takes in dogs from a variety of backgrounds, including those with special needs and health problems that require significant work with veterenarians before finding a foster – and eventual “forever” – home.
“We take dogs that need surgery, with other big health problems, and we make sure they get the help they need,” Biesboer said. “It doesn’t matter how much we pay for vetting, all dogs are adopted out at the same price.”
She and four others with a shared “love of the breed” started the organization ten years ago in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. She said that many dog breeds have their own awareness and foster programs, but that to those who own them, wiener dogs are special.
“Dachshunds are not for everyone, but those that have a dachshund will probably never get a different type of dog,” she said. “They have so much personality, tenacity and stubbornness and are just stinkin’ cute on top of it.”
Longtime MWDR volunteer, current treasurer and fellow dachshund lover Lynn Widmann served her time as a volunteer foster owner, helping around 30 dachschunds become socialized, evaluated and vetted.
“There were times when I had seven dogs in my home, times when other foster homes were out of town or something, including the two dachshunds that I already had,” Widmann said. “It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my whole life.”
As the scope of the non-profit has widened, the Bark Around has also grown.
“Every year it gets bigger and bigger,” said Biesboer.
The event includes raffles, auctions, costume contests and more - all appropriately wiener dog themed.
But the big draw is the race, culminating in an eventual champion. While the race requires registration, anyone can come to the fairgrounds to enjoy the sight of 400 wiener dogs in one place. Admission is $5, whether you have a doxie or not, and includes a free hot dog and drink. But there is one stipulation: no big dogs allowed.