Bill Lillich of Mechanicsburg gives Buddy, a 5-month-old longhaired daschund, a kiss before putting him down for a puppy race Sunday.
Bill Lillich of Mechanicsburg gives Buddy, a 5-month-old longhaired daschund, a kiss before putting him down for a puppy race Sunday. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)

Brooke Say's father, a veterinarian, told her Eleanor is a pretty quick little dachsund.

So when Say's hairdresser told her about the inaugural Keystone Dachshund Races held Sunday near Lewisberry, she and her husband, Adam, of Conewago Township, decided to bring their 3-year-old dachshund to compete.

Eleanor, a red, smooth Dachshund, was among about 100 competitors registered as the races began just after noon at Belle Vista Training Center.

Race coordinator Kate Felix, who was hustling from one last-moment preparation to another just before the races began, said it was her first time managing a charity event.

Proceeds from the race benefited Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue.

Eileen Wood of Enola gives 9-year-old Tralfaz some encouragement before a race Sunday.
Eileen Wood of Enola gives 9-year-old Tralfaz some encouragement before a race Sunday. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)

Felix said she was at a dachshund race early last fall and was "just hooked," so she decided to hold one locally.

Racing the small dogs began about a decade ago, around the time a national beer ad featured the dogs racing, said Toni Gossard, founder of National Dachshund Races.

Gossard said she began the group to standardize such races across the country and make sure the events were safe for the dogs.

Ed and Carol Howard came from northern Dauphin County for the races.

Ed Howard said he found out about the event at his job in Harrisburg and figured it would be fun for dogs Amber and Archer.

"Just fun, and for a good cause," Ed Howard said.

The race distance is relatively short: about 20 feet for the puppies and senior division and about 35 feet for the adults.

One handler holds one of up to four dogs behind a flip-up door until the race begins, after which they let go and the dogs runs toward another handler, who is often holding a tennis ball or some other toy.

Many of the early heats saw a few dogs sprint toward the finish, with a straggler not wanting to run right away or looking lost.

Those dogs tended to get an even bigger applause than the winners once they found the finish line.

And race day did turn out pretty well for Eleanor.

Stacy Paxson, left, of York and Esther Walker of Windsor carry Paxson’s two rescued daschunds in carriers made for their long bodies. Paxson said
Stacy Paxson, left, of York and Esther Walker of Windsor carry Paxson's two rescued daschunds in carriers made for their long bodies. Paxson said that, since the dogs like to be held, the carriers are a great option. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)
She took second place in her semi-final race, Say said.
bburkey@ydr.com; 771-2035

THE WINNERS

Here are the winners of Sunday's grand championship races, according to Kate Felix, race coordinator:

  • Miniature division: Dylan Kline

  • Standard division: Rainey Trump-Latshaw, a Hurricane Katrina survivor who is nicknamed Highwater