AVON PARK - With a woof, waggle and waddle, the wiener dogs were off.
Ridge Area Arc's 5th Annual Wiener Dog Race was a big success with nearly 40 dachshunds and wiener wannabes waddling their way to victory. From 2-month-old rookies to 11-year-old veterans, racers reached impressive speeds as they competed for winning titles and bragging rights as the ultimate winning wieners at Avon Park's annual Oktoberfest celebration.
The Wiener Walk entertained the audience as they cheered for their favorite dogs dressed in a variety of costumes as they paraded around a race track. The walk was divided into three costume categories: Best Dressed Dog, Best Dressed Team and Best Float. Escorted by her owner Todd Boehmer, Josie won Best Dressed Dog dressed as an ice-cream sundae; Buttercup Truffles and her partner, Emily Burns, won Best Dressed Team as Nemo and a scuba diver; and Craig Seniow and Johnny Myers returned with their crew of "float engineers" taking home the Best Float Award for their Hallo-Weiner-themed float.
The races started shortly after the walk divided into five categories: Senior/Disabled dachshunds, Puppies, Adults, Weiner Wannabes and Top Dog. At 11 years old, returning competitor Buttercup Truffles won the Senior/Disabled race by a landslide.
In the puppy division, young rookies were more focused on each other and the fans than making it across the finish line. Susan Dazey's young Dottie managed to waddle her way to the finish with Ann and Harry Durbano's Bella trailing in a close second.
Judges and fans were on the edge of their seats during the adult dog competition. These experienced runners gave judges a difficult time in determining the final winner. After numerous heats and a final race re-do, judges awarded Liz Dixon's dachshund, Minnie, first place with competitor Oscar-Meyer and his owner, Danielle Plank, nipping at their heels for a close second.
Weiner Wannabes ranging from chihuahuas to terrier mixes gave the audience a show with Rita Chandler and Keebler taking first and Don Billy and his pup, Reese, coming in second.
Top Dog was awarded to Seniow and his all-star, Bailey.
Ridge Area Arc would like to thank all racers, cheering fans and sponsors, Heacock Insurance and Citrus Animal Clinic, for making this fundraiser possible. All proceeds benefit Ridge Area Arc, which provides programs and services for individuals with developmental and other disabilities.