Hot dogs play catchup

By Gus Bode

A dog in jean shorts had barely started its fashion walk when it suspiciously squatted in the grass.

“Oh no, he’s gotta poop!” yelled a lady who noticed the dog as it paused.

Almost 30 Dachshunds and their owners gathered Saturday at the Anna City Park for Kid’s Fest: featuring the 3rd annual Wiener Dog Race and Wiener Dog Fashion Show.

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The event is a fundraiser for the Children’s Medical Resource Network, said Ginger Meyer, an event coordinator and medical caseworker for the group. She said the group provides children with a chance to have fun and learn about health through such things as dental and vision screenings. The Children’s Medical Resource Network is a four-year-old program under the SIU School of Medicine.

“We developed the Kid’s Fest so we can have a fun and educational activity for kids, to raise awareness about child abuse and raise funds,” Meyer said.

The wiener dog fashion show and race were the last events of the day. Crowds of people, both young and old, gathered around the 75-foot racetrack and fashion runway to cheer for the 29 wiener dogs.

Dogs came dressed as bees, princesses, skunks and – predictably – hot dogs to walk across a grassy runway flaunting their costumes on their elongated bodies and short limbs. No strings were attached – just leashes.

Louie Bennett, an 11-year-old from Lake Creek, dressed his dog, Fudgie, in a tuxedo. His aunt’s dog, Little Bit, strutted in a wedding dress. Bennett said he has wanted to participate in the show since it began.

“I’ve been waiting to do this for about four years, and I finally made it,” he said.

After a few minutes of showing off, a winner was chosen. Bill and Kathy Marks of Marion won first prize. Their dog, Aimee, was dressed in a green sheep outfit.

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Kathy Marks, who made the outfit, called Aimee her “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“I wanted it to be something original and something that a Dachshund would look good in,” she said.

A race followed the fashion show. Because of the number of dogs, the race was run in different heats, with the winner of each race competing in the final showdown. As some dogs ran the wrong way, others took off down the racetrack toward the shouts and encouragement of their masters.

The winners of the race were the dogs of Brian Neely of Olmsted and Regina Purcell of Cairo. The two said they decided to enter the race after they received a flier from their martial arts instructor. They enticed Purcell’s dog, Saddie Sue, toward the finish line with a squeaky toy.

“If you tease the dog, it gets her adrenaline pumping,” Purcell said.

Purcell grinned ear-to-ear after winning the final race.

The turnout for Kid Fest this year was more than previous years, Meyer said.

“I am so pleased with the way things turned out,” she said.

The medical group specializes in examinations for children who have been sexually or physically abused. About 250 to 300 children up to 17 years old are seen each year, she said. The network also provides education and training to other doctors and professionals regarding child abuse.

Ryan Rendleman can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 273 or [email protected]

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