Wiener 100 gets little legs letting go

by Bryan Brown |

By Linda Wilson Fuoco
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thursday, August 18, 2005

They were off and running, their short legs pumping furiously as they raced to the finish line. Well, most of them raced toward the finish line. Two of the contestants turned around midrace and ran back to the starting line. One never budged from the starting line. One didn't want to leave its owner to line up for the race.

One little guy showed early signs of being a contender. He ran really, really fast, but he ran in circles. Unfortunately for him, this race, start to finish, was run in a straight line.

It was the first-ever Wiener 100 at the Kennywood Park. The race featured wiener dogs, properly called dachshunds, racing 100 feet.

"It was hysterical," Kennywood spokeswoman Mary Lou Rosemeyer said. "We're definitely going to do it again."

The Wiener 100 was held in conjunction with the third annual Silver Star Meats/Kennywood Entertainment Hot Dog Eating Competition on Aug. 5. The eating contest was held at all three Kennywood parks -- Kennywood, Sandcastle and Idlewild & Soak Zone. The dachshunds were only at Kennywood in West Mifflin.

The winning wiener was a 5-year-old red smooth-coated dog named Pork Chop Baron of Frankfurter. Owners Jerry and Judi Erno, of Sewickley, call him Porky. Weighing in at 16 pounds, Porky was the biggest dachshund in the field. The others were miniatures, weighing six to 10 pounds.

The Ernos say Porky is a "tweenie," weighing in between the minis and the standards.

Miniature dachshunds weigh less than 12 pounds and standard dachshunds weigh 16 to 32 pounds, according to the breed standards set by the American Kennel Club.

When Porky was led away from Erno in the prerace parade, he wasn't too happy about it. But when the race started, Erno said the magic word, cheese, and Porky came running for his reward. His second-favorite food, she said, is grape tomatoes.

The eight contestants ran on a special track designed by John Rodger, Kennywood entertainment promotion director. Rosemary Overly, an artist at Idlewild, made little jackets with racing numbers.

"The jackets were just adorable," Rosemeyer said, but were too big, and would have dragged on the ground beneath the bellies of the very low-slung mini dachshunds. They would have probably fit standard dachshunds.

The Wiener 100 contestants actually know each other because they have monthly play dates with their owners, who have formed a group called the Pittsburgh Dachshund Meet Up Group. They met on the Internet site There are 49 members, and most months, about 20 dachshunds and people show up for the play dates, which have generally been held in Frick Park in Pittsburgh. Future play dates might be held in other parks.

Porky has huge birthday bashes that are served by a professional caterer, who happens to be Judi Erno.

Porky's fifth birthday party June 25 was attended by "a couple hundred people," Erno said, and at least 50 dogs. Porky and some of his best four-legged friends arrived at War Memorial Park in Sewickley in a stretch limousine.

The Ernos asked guests not to bring presents for Porky. Instead, they suggested that donations be made to Animal Friends. Porky's birthday guests donated $2,400 earmarked for construction of the new Animal Friends shelter and resource center in Ohio Township.

A low-cost rabies vaccination clinic will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the Forest Hills Fire Department, Ardmore Boulevard. The cost is $8 for each dog and cat older than 3 months. All dogs must be on leashes and all cats in carriers.

For further information, go to or call the shelter at 412-566-2103.

(Linda Wilson Fuoco can be reached at or 412-263-3064.)