GRAND BLANC, Michigan – Douglas Dennis of Grand Blanc has a family celebrity – his 6-year-old standard dachshund, Dee-O-Gee.
Dee-O-Gee was crowned adult champion in the final round of the national Dachshund races last weekend in Toledo.
“It really left a lot of people in awe,” said Dennis, 48. “He’s a bolt of lightning.”
This racing champ is 7 inches tall from his feet to back, with 3.5 inches legs and a racing weight of 22 pounds.
“We used it in a total of 11 races,” said Dennis. “(On Saturday) he lost one, the last. He won every race on Sunday. “
Dee-O-Gee came home with 12 gold medals, one silver medal and the national champion gold medal, Dennis said.
“He’s just a really good natured dog and he’s done really well,” he said. “He just really owned it.”
The National Dachshund Races was founded 10 years ago by a woman from Ohio, Toni Gossard.
“Sometimes (the dogs) run in circles before they even reach the finish line,” said Gossard. “It’s hilarious. You’re having a really good time. You’re playing.”
Gossard said the Toledo event also included a costume contest. This year’s winner was disguised as a firefighter.
Dee-O-Gee will advance to the finals to compete with the winners of Gossard’s other circuit races in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Findlay, Ohio on September 25th. The final takes place in Findlay.
Dennis started racing his dog in May 2009 after the dog nearly died in September 2008 from playing with conventional dog toys.
Dee-O-Gee swallowed a piece of rubber the size of Dennis’s thumbnail after tearing up a dog toy. The piece got stuck in the dog’s gut and he had to be operated on immediately.
“It killed him,” said Dennis. “He loves to chew things. After this operation we cannot allow him to play with toys. “
Dennis got the idea to start racing from his brother Charles, 41.
“He’s a natural,” said Charles Dennis. “You mention the word ‘you want to race’ with no toys and it goes ballistic.”
Dennis registered his dog with the dog apfrennes in Frankenmuth in May after the operation to try it out. Dee-O-Gee finished second in his very first race, beating most of the other 120 canine competitors.
“He loves it,” said Dennis. “He really enjoys doing it. He has to play like that now. “
Dennis said there is no training. The owners just come with their dogs.
The dogs run on a 12 foot wide, 30 foot long track and start from a starting gate, similar to horse racing. Four dogs run at the same time to minimize confusion and reduce the risk of injury.
Instead of planning the races, Gossard said, the first dog to completely cross the finish line – including its tail – wins.
Two handlers must compete in every race, she said. One holds the dog behind the gate and the other stands with a toy at the other end of the lane and calls them.
Dennis said Dee-O-Gee is hunting a squeaker toy and “the brightest stuffed animal we can find.”
Charles helps his brother in the races by releasing Dee-O-Gee when the gates open.
The races are just for fun, very different from traditional competitive dog races.
“These are pets,” said Gossard. “I have very few (owners) who are only there for competition.”
Gossard spent some time with Dee-O-Gee and Dennis after the championship race and said he was a “wonderful dog”.
“He’s an example of what every dog should be,” she said. “They just love their dog and their dog loves them. It’s something I like to see. “