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  HOT DOG! WEINERS ON PARADE.  
   
 

ew York's Washington Square Park is awash with a carnival of NYU students, drug dealers, wayward tourists, street performers, hacky sackers, and guitar playing hippies, all of them forced to make way for a sea of wieners.

Dachshunds, that is. Hundreds of them. Lowriders of the canine world. Everywhere.

 

 
  Nearly three-hundred dachshunds and their owners have gathered in the shadow of the Washington Arch, almost at the very spot where Harry and Sally first went their separate ways, for the 12th Annual Dachshund Oktoberfest. Standing atop a cement bench with his dachshund, Waldo, Adrian Milton, founder of The Dachshund Friendship Club (DFC), happily takes in the sights and sounds of what can be considered a New York institution of his own creation.

"It's a hobby that's grown out of proportion," admits Milton. "It's become a service. I counsel, give advice, it's become a community. This is our playdate."

Upon arriving, it's apparent that stepping into the midst of what is probably the highest concentration of "hot dogs" anywhere on the planet is more intense than your average meeting of dog lovers at the local run. It's more than an ankle-level parade of dogs, more

 
   
 

than the constant intermingling of leashes and piercing high-pitched barks, more than the polite banter of strangers, although there's plenty of that as well. A band has been brought in for the occasion; an accordion/violin duo proudly playing what has become the official anthem of the DFC, The Dachs Song. The full band version of the song is available at www.dachshong.com and well worth the visit. Here are a few lines to get you started:

There's no other dog like a dachshund,
Walking so close to the ground,
They're stubborn and sly as a fox and
The happiest pet to be found.

As man and dog arrive at the park their roles (Ah, the inevitable hot dog play on words. Tee hee.) instantly reverse. The dachshund leads, the master hangs on and follows. Not surprisingly, the trail is backed up with some serious rear sniffing and random acts of hostile barking. The owners look down and say something along the lines of, "Say hello. Say hi, Grand Baron von Princess Sparkle Tootsie."

Only after this do the owners look up and say hello to each other. The rest of the conversation reveals just how much dachshund owners like not only their own dog, but this type of dog in particular. They want to know the other dachshund's name, how they got it, where they live, what it likes to do, if it has siblings and anything else that might teach them something new. Most have brought cameras and are blowing through film snapping pictures of other dogs. When the dog decides it's time, it's on to the next group.

For Milton, this all started a little more than a decade ago when he came to the aid of Damon, a neighbor's dachshund he babysat from time to time. "The people shouldn't have owned pets. They would hit him." says Adrian. "When we saw things were getting worse we took him."

Damon was also suffering from the recent death of his twin, Phythias. "We'd take Damon on walks and every time he saw another dog he'd start to cry," says Milton. Something had to be done for the depressed dochsie. The answer: find Damon some friends -- some sausage-like friends! Adrian posted flyers around the city inviting other dachshund owners to meet in Washington Square Park.

Today, Milton and the DFC organize two dachshund rallies each year, which, depending on the weather, have been known to draw as many as 700 people. Over 1,000 others subscribe to the DFC newsletter, a publication composed largely of dachshie pictures and people's letters about everything from their newest dachshund, to the Dachshund Rescue League, to how to prevent your dachshund from peeing all over your house. "They can be difficult to housebreak," says Milton.

Urination habits aside, unlike other small dogs, the dachshund wasn't developed for the sole purpose of being the rat-sized chippy companion of well-to-do city dwellers. According to the American Kennel Club the dachshund is a member of the hound group, which puts it in the same category as the Irish Wolfhound, the tallest of all dogs. The breed was developed more than 300 years ago to hunt badgers. Because of its status as a hunting dog the AKC has deemed that "scars from honorable wounds shall not be considered a fault," when judging the dog's appearance.

It would have been difficult to see any scars on the dachshunds in Washington Square Park, as most were in costume. Princess Apollonia and Princess Yasmina, for example, wore matching 1950s pink poodle skirts. Others with names like Precious Bismarck, Thelma and Louise (sisters), Honeybun, and Winston, were dressed as bumblebees, a witch, even a Venetian Gondolier. More than a few had dawned hot dog costumes, complete with a squiggle of ketchup or mustard down the back. You can't help but feel sorry for a dachshund named Dippy sporting a hot dog costume. Still others opted for a Harley Davidson t-shirt, a kimono, or a black leather jacket with matching leather hat.

"Watch out for dochsie droppings," warned one woman as she made her way through the crowd. Another woman has three dachshunds splayed out from one leash. Two of them are silent and still, their eyes fixed on something just out of reach. "Frankie and Louise are more interested in getting that kid's hot dog right now," explains the woman. The little girl takes her last bite and stares back down at the dogs. She looks confused, then a little guilty.

Vicky Cosgrove, attending her 8th rally, had other kinds of dogs before giving her heart solely to dachshunds "I started with a St. Bernard, then a Lab, and now I'm about as low in size as you can get for a dog." Nine years ago she rescued her first dachshund from the street. "We named him Peter Sausage," says Cosgrove, who used Peter as the star of her first children's book.

After Peter, Cosgrove had Hummel and Otto. Today, she is with Squeaky Tyme, a red miniature long-haired whose original name, Franz Furter, was abandoned after it was determined his high-pitched bark better characterized him. "I don't know what it is about them, they're contagious. You can't have just one Dachshund."

Squeaky Tyme is the focus of Cosgrove's most recent children's book, a photo story book called Squeaky Tyme. According to the blurb on the postcard advertising the book's availability on www.xlibris.com, Squeaky was vision impaired from birth, was rescued and subsequently adopted by Cosgrove.

"Squeaky lives life to the fullest, with enormous gusto for his tiny size," reads the blurb. An excerpt from the book, available on the website, shows Squeaky taking care of a little business in the back yard. The caption under the photo reads, "Squeaky Tyme is Stinky Time." Overcoming disability indeed.

After a little over an hour Milton gets on his bullhorn and asks the crowd to gather round. He thanks everyone for attending, lets them know he has copies of the DFC newsletter to pass out and reminds everyone not to forget the Dachshund Spring Fiesta to be held on April 26. There's clapping and cheering, even more barking. Finally, the sheet music is passed out and the crowd readies itself for a final singing of The Dachs Song, the final chorus summing up all there is to know about dachshunds and their owners.

Dachsie, meine dachsie,
The best canine under the sun,
Call you "wie-ner"or "sau-sage" or "hot dog"
We know that you're number one.

Of course, they sing the song twice.

 

*BT*

Ross Tucker is one baaad motherfuck -- ha! It's just so much fun to say, huh?