Philly wiener dogs race in Manayunk

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Dachshund owners from across the area relished in dressing their furry friends as hot dogs in a wiener-take-all charity race at a hot dog and burger bar in Manayunk.

Hundreds of people packed Lucky’s Last Chance on the 4400 block of Main Street on Wednesday night to watch 40 wieners walk, waddle and whisk their way along a 60-foot AstroTurf course.

Several of the elongated entrants, however, never made it across the finish line. One sat down halfway through a race. Another stopped for pets from the humans surrounding the track. Several owners had to help their hot dogs ketchup when they went off course. Other dogs who seemed to be on a roll ran right out of their buns.

After 10 heats, two champions emerged. In a photo finish, Dilly bested his competitors in the mixed-breed category, while 2-year-old Mazie won the purebred competition. The win was a redemption for Mazie and her mom, 25-year-old Megan Ryan of Manayunk.

“She ran last year and controversially came in second place,” Ryan said. “This is a big deal since we have been training all year for this by doing absolutely nothing.”

Several competitors were named after famous hot dogs, like Oscar and Nathan, while others had names that belied their size, like Hugo, Brutus, and Reggie White.

The human spectators had dachshund shirts, hot dog dresses and wiener purses. One dog owner even taped a bun costume to his own back, in solidarity with his pup.

Chris Barnes, managing partner of Lucky’s Last Chance, started the competition in 2013 to benefit the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and to celebrate National Hot Dog Month.

The first year, eight dogs competed but only three were dachshunds, Barnes said.

“We called in some ringers, like a pug, at the last minute because we didn’t have enough competitors,” he said.

Since that first race in the alley next to Lucky’s, the competition has grown. Last year, about 250 people attended. This year, registration filled up within three weeks.

Camera icon TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

Competitors Itchy (left, with Mike Wilson) and Savannah (right, with Sean Kelley) get to know each other while waiting to race.

Barnes said Wednesday’s contest was the biggest race yet, though attendance figures weren’t immediately known. People packed Lucky’s backyard, the alley and a bridge overlooking the course.

The only requirement for racers, aside from being a wiener, was a little bit of doggie style — each competitor had to wear a hot dog bun costume, which the bar provided.

But not every bun — or every wiener — is made the same.

“There have been a couple of wardrobe malfunctions,” Barnes said. “We’ve had some dachshunds cross the finish line without their buns.”

Four heats were held for each group followed by a championship race for both the purebreds and the mixed breeds.

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The winning wieners received a photo shoot with a professional photographer and a prize basket of goodies for dogs and their humans.

Last year, the event raised nearly $3,000 for PAWS, the city’s largest no-kill animal shelter. The organization is on track to rescue more than 3,000 animals in Philly this year, according to Melissa Levy, PAWS executive director.

“We are entirely funded by donations so literally every animal we rescue depends on the generosity of our donors and the supporters in the community like Chris and so many other small business owners,” Levy said.

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And that’s the doggone truth.

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