By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport

SCENE & HEARD: A week from Sunday, July 16 – the champion of the 9th annual Wiener Dog Races at Hastings Racecourse will be crowned and track announcer Dan Jukich will gladly file his script away for another year that begins with:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, start your wieners!”

The darling little Dachshunds – 80 in number – invade Hastings next Saturday and Sunday for what has become a must-see event on Vancouver’s family entertainment calendar.

Presented by Hastings Racecourse and Schneiders, the popular four-legged wienerschnitzels compete for $1,800 in prize money and, just as important, bragging rights for a full year.

To think, it all began in 2008 when a dozen of these wee pooches were lured to the racetrack to see which one could best cut the mustard, no bun intended, in a 50 metre dash.

Normally horses and dogs don’t get along. But once a year they share the same intimidating starting gate the thoroughbreds use during the regular racing season.

The aggressive little pooches compete in heats leading up to the championship finale.   Wiener Warden Christine Hong explains that each dachshund must be accompanied by two handlers, one at the starting gate and the other at the finish line.

“Each of the wiener dogs charges for the finish line on his or her own and must not be pulled across by an over-anxious accomplice,” Christine says. “We have judges and clockers positioned everywhere.”

Somewhere on the North Shore a very proud and understandably pompous wiener dog named Joey will be watching television replays of Sunday’s championship round. Owned by a non-skier named Nancy Greene, Joey captured the Hastings-Schneiders trophy a record four years in a row.

According to a source choosing to remain anonymous, Joey has bulked up a bit since being on a steady diet of wieners and beans in his retirement years.

“I wouldn’t dare call Joey a fat cat for fear of insulting him,” the source suggests. “Let’s just say he’s a content canine.”

The 2017 version of Wiener Dog Weekend begins with qualifying heats next Saturday and continues leading up to the championship showdown after Race 6 on Sunday’s regular horse racing card.