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Hot dog is top dog when these Colorado Springs dachshund owners get together

September 10, 2017 Updated: September 11, 2017 at 1:18 pm
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Since January, a group of Dachshund owner-enthusiasts have been having monthly meet ups for their canines. Jazzy and Bubba go for the "weiner walk" with their owners. The group was meeting at Bear Creek Dog Park on Sunday, August 13, 2017.-(Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Tank can tell when he's nearing Bear Creek Dog Park for a doxie meetup.

"When we get to about Patsy's (candy shop on 21st Street), he just freaks out," says Tank's owner, Elizabeth Ainsworth. "I have to hold him - it looks like he's trying to fly out the window."

All kinds of wiener dogs - chocolate, black, tan, dappled, piebald, wire-haired, silky smooth and long-haired - set aside their snooty airs, yappy tendencies and nonsocial ways at Colorado Springs Low Riders Dachshund Club meets.

About 40 or so dachshunds, accompanied by their owners, get together on the third Sunday of each month at the county dog park on the West Side of Colorado Springs.

The group does an informal "March of the Wieners" around the small-dog section before engaging in tail chasing, backside sniffing and general frivolity.

Some sport festive bows, neckerchiefs or fancy harnesses.

"They're the only dogs I've ever had," said Maggie Straub, who acquired 4-year-old Gretel from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. "They're funny, clowny and affectionate."

Since January, a group of Dachshund owner-enthusiasts have been having monthly meet ups for their canines. Frankie gives a kiss to her owner. The group was meeting at Bear Creek Dog Park on Sunday, August 13, 2017. Frankie gives a big kiss to his owner. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) 

She and Gretel bonded almost immediately, and now, "It's like she's attached at my hip."

Katie Healy Barcelon, who works for a Department of Defense subcontractor, started the club in January, for owners of the beloved breed to better socialize their dogs in a safe way, talk about their doxies, find out about adoption opportunities, share health issues and swap stories.

There's always a good story about the long-bodied, short-legged dogs developed in Germany to hunt badgers. At least one a day, said Suzi Maxim.

"Why do we like dachshunds?" she repeats the question.

"Because they have a mind of their own," she answers. "What don't we like about dachshunds? They have a mind of their own. The same thing we love about them."

Maxim owns two full-sized dachshunds. She inherited Buddy a decade ago, after her father died.

"My dad took him everywhere, even to work, where everybody took turns letting him out," she said. "They say dogs don't have emotions, but they do. It took Buddy six months to get out of his shell."

The club has more than 100 members and is growing from social media and word of mouth.

Ainsworth was at a grocery store when she noticed another shopper with a tattoo on her leg: two cartoon-faced dachshunds positioned snout to snout.

"I've never seen anyone with a dachshund tattoo," Ainsworth said. "I thought, 'I've got to talk to her.'"

Ainsworth, who works at a day-care center, introduced herself to Kelly Parang, an aesthetician, and after admiring her tattoo, invited her to the monthly event.

Parang showed up for her first meet in August with Jackson and Roxie.

"I love this, it's great," she said, eyeing dachshunds scampering everywhere. "I'm a weenie dog owner for life - their personalities are so cute."

Dachshunds enjoy hanging out with their own kind, club members say.

Since January, a group of Dachshund owner-enthusiasts have been having monthly meet ups for their canines. The group was meeting at Bear Creek Dog Park on Sunday, August 13, 2017.-(Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) 

"They like smaller dogs," Maxim said.

Dexter has improved his manners from making friends at the meetups, said owner Mike Easley, a security officer.

Dexter used to have to wear a warning label on his collar so people wouldn't try to pet him. Now he's friendly and seems to love the interaction with other dogs, as well as children.

"He's my buddy," Easley said, lifting him up for a few wet licks on the nose.

Dexter was headed for a kill shelter when Easley and his wife, Laura, acquired him.

"He gets into stuff all the time," Laura said, accepting simultaneous growls and kisses.

Another Dachshund quirk is that they can have a Napoleon complex, thinking they're bigger than they are.

"Our other dog, Brutus, has that. It's why we kept the name Brutus," Laura said.

Phuong Nguyen, who recently moved to Colorado Springs from Kansas City and works on a dairy farm, also attended the August gathering, for the first time.

"We're trying to find people to hang out with," she said, holding 10-year-old Ume, selected for her cuteness. "Their personalities are so great."

Artist Judy Applegarth recently moved here from Nevada.

"This is a fun event," she said.

One-year-old Boba Fett, named after the Star Wars bounty hunter, cavorted with his newfound buddies.

"Bo is snippy, so we're working on that behavior," Applegarth said, doling out a few hot dog tidbits when Boba Fett does what he's supposed to do.

Since January, a group of Dachshund owner-enthusiasts have been having monthly meet ups for their canines. When Dexter started coming to the group, he wore a tag that said "danger", but after socializing with the group he can be petted by anyone. He gets petted and a treat while being held by his owner. The group was meeting at Bear Creek Dog Park on Sunday, August 13, 2017.-(Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) 

Barcelon, the club founder, said she hopes to organize members to do activities such as fundraisers for rescue groups, walk en masse in local parades and attend the Sept. 30 Dachtober Fest in Littleton, and the Running of the Wieners races in Loveland every June.

"Ultimately, it would be great if we could create our own event for Colorado Springs and do something like a Dachs-A-Palooza to celebrate our dogs and have fun," she said.

Barcelon and her husband have owned eight dachshunds, including Bubba.

When the couple adopted Bubba, he had been kept in a cage for nearly four years for breeding and was severely malnourished and scared of everything - taking walks, hearing birds and seeing cars.

"He would always keep his tail low and tucked between his legs with his head down," Barcelon said. "You could see how terribly dejected this poor dog was."

Patience and kindness eventually won over Bubba, now an 11-year-old "happy boy who wags his tail, runs to greet us and barks and plays merrily," Barcelon said.

Every dachshund was a top dog at what seemed like a big dog party, including 11-year-old Woody, who slipped a disc and tools around with his back legs in a cart.

"It doesn't slow him down," said Ben Fischer, a fire support specialist at Fort Carson who owns four dachshunds, including Woody.

Fischer and his wife saved Woody from being put to sleep by his previous owner after his back injury. They also own 14-year-old Oscar, a "true lap dog" who's been an inspiration to school children; and Eddie, a "trooper" who got bit by a rattlesnake and racked up a $1,200 vet bill.

"My wife took Oscar to a school by our house for kids to read to him, and it made a huge difference in their reading ability," Fischer said.

He and his wife have been faithful attendees of club gatherings.

"You get to meet other people and see that wiener dogs are actually popular."

The next meetup is at 11 a.m. Sept. 17 at Bear Creek Dog Park in the small dog area.

In October, the group will do a field trip to Calhan for an open house for Denver Dachshunds Rescue and Transport, which will run 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 8 at Liberty Ranch. There will be low-cost vaccinations, food, Wiener Dog races and other activities.

For more information on the club, go to www.facebook.com/groups/416032535404012/.

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