On a hot Labor Day afternoon, over 3000 people gathered at the Louisiana Downs racetrack to watch the annual Wiener Dog Races. The race determines who has the fastest paws in the Ark-La-Tex. Contestants bring their wiener dogs, or dachshunds, to compete against each other for the title of the Fastest Wiener. The rules are simple, the dog must be a pure bred dachshund, verified through AKC paperwork, and must be picked from a raffle to compete.

Spectators watch the wiener dog races.

The competition consisted of four heats of eight dogs each. Each heat divided the dogs up by weight, from the lightest to the heaviest, to make the playing field as fair as possible. Owners don’t take the race lightly. Matt Hemingway, who owns Leo, trains his dog in his front yard in South Highlands. “It’s Leo’s third year, and last year he finished 3rd which was his best finish.” Leo took first place in the practice run this year and his owner is hoping for first or second place finish in his heat.

Leo, who took third place last year is looking for a first place finish.

Spectators could gamble on the races, but all winnings go to K9 Karma, a nonprofit that provides training to service dogs for veterans. “We try to get our dogs from the shelters, but sometimes the veterans will bring their own dogs,” said Daniel Murray, the founder of K9 Karma. Murray, a Marine Corps veteran, says their aim is to help veterans who suffer from PTSD.

The master of ceremonies announces the third heat winner.

In-between the races, there were local food trucks, bounce houses, kids races, and an exotic petting zoo. The star of the petting zoo was Tucker, a joey Kangaroo. “Kangaroo’s do extremely well in Louisiana because the climate is so similar to Australia,” said his owners. Along with Kangaroos, spectators could pet goats, chickens, and tortoises.

First, second, and third place prizes.

First and second place wieners from each of the four heats competed head to head for the championship. The race was close, but Bella, last year’s winner, took first place again. “Her secret is she’s really skittish and loves to run,” said owner Allison Acree, who said that this will be 7-year-old Bella’s last year competing. “Tonight she’s going to get a corn dog and we’ll let her sleep in our bed,” said Acree.

First place winner Bella, and her owner Allison Acree

If you would like to enter next year’s competitions, contact Casey Boddie at cboddie@caesars.com.